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How to Save Money on Home Remodeling

Updated on April 28, 2016

As an interior designer, I am probably supposed to say something like “Never nickel-and-dime when it comes to home remodeling! Buy only high-quality expensive materials and don’t even try to economize on the designer’s services!” Certainly, your renovation projects are my bread and butter, so please call me any time (kidding – I am not here to advertise myself). Still, I mean it: if you can’t afford something luxurious, you can always try to opt for some minor renovations or a low-budget but pretty design. Here are some tips that may come in handy and save your cash.

In your opinion, what is the most expensive room to renovate?

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Examine your possessions

First of all, use a cold-eye approach. Look around your room and decide:

  • which things you can leave as they are and use in your new design,
  • which things you can refresh with a creative touch,
  • which things you can sell,
  • which things are doomed to be thrown away.

This step shouldn’t be seen as an easy one. The point is to profit from the things you have as much as possible. Even if your fist urge is to replace everything old with new things, try to be rational about it. For example, you are sick and tired of that old-fashioned closet or those dusty armchairs. No wonder, if all you want is to take and burn them out back – which is, of course, understandable, but it’s better to look before you leap. Perhaps you can repaint the closet’s doors, and it will look a lot nicer? As for the armchairs, changing the upholstery is easier and cheaper than buying new furniture, but the impression is just as favorable.

An unplanned yard sale is also an option for those who want to save a little money on home remodeling. Don’t forget about online auctions: if you think that something is complete rubbish, it doesn’t mean that others agree with you. What if someone is looking for a nightstand which looks like yours (yes, the one you wanted to hack into pieces)?

However, you have to get rid of some things once and for all because no one wants them

A little more about online auctions

When it comes to remodeling, we all want to have a lot of new things. Otherwise, how can we call it a renovation? However, brand new things can be rather pricey, and if your budget is tight, it will make sense to save money at secondhand stores and actions.

I’d like to warn you against some common mistakes. Some people come to these places with ideas like, “Oh, it’s all so cheap, let’s buy this, and that, and those, too”. After a while, they are surprised at how much they have spent. If you see a lot of nice things that cost virtually nothing, it doesn’t mean that you have to buy them all. One plus one makes two, and you won’t notice how fast you can reach the limit of your budget. Make a precise list of things you’d like to buy, and follow it with as few unexpected purchases as possible.

Secondly, be rational (I guess I am repeating myself, but this is my first piece of advice to anyone). Even if someone is selling a Victorian cabinet with gilded knobs at $5, ask yourself before you rush into making the deal. Perhaps it won’t fit into your room either because of its size or its style. Perhaps you didn’t plan to buy a new cabinet at all and, therefore, you’ll have to sacrifice something really important to buy it. Seriously, it’s great when high-quality things are affordable, but you don’t need them all, do you?

Another tip is to search for clearance sales. They are more typical for clothes shops, but wallpapers and paints are also subject to fashion requirements – at least, this is what all interior design magazines claim. If you don’t particularly care about being up-to-the-minute, find out when the nearby stores are going to change their displays. It usually happens in spring and in autumn, so you have a good chance to have a real bargain.

Don’t economize on your priorities

If you want just some new pieces of furniture, it’s one thing, but you want global remodeling, make sure you don’t save on essentials. I firmly believe that buying cheap paint or wallpaper leads to nowhere. This can be 1) dangerous, as they can contain harmful chemicals and 2) pointless, as they won’t last for long, and you will have to repaint your room once more (think of these new expenses!). It’s better to spend a bit more this time than doing it all over again in a year.

The same is true for virtually all construction materials. Think twice before you decide to buy cheap and who-knows-where-it-was-done plasterboards or fillers. The foundation must be strong – both literally and figuratively. In the long view, it will save you a lot of money.

If you are not going to do anything on a grand scale, your priorities can vary. Decide on the things which will be the spotlight of your room. Whether it is some kind of wall décor or a king-size bed is up to you, but remember that this thing will catch everyone’s eye, so it is supposed to look nice and stylish. Let it be your major expense, and other things can be bought at a cheaper rate.

Be prepared to work a lot

It’s a lot easier to pay money and get things done by someone else, but if you are narrow with money, you will have to be more hard-working. However, I don’t recommend going 100% DIY – there are things that are supposed to be made by experts. Plumbing and electricity come on top of the list of the most delicate issues which don’t like amateurs at all. So, unless you have some training and experience in this sphere, you’d better call a professional to come and have a look at your problem.

On the other hand, there are plenty of things that you can do by yourself. Demolition, rubbish removal, painting… You never know what your talents are! Don’t forget about your friends and family. Sure, you shouldn’t exploit their kindness, but if they have some free time, they are likely to give you a hand (especially if you promise to throw an after-renovation party in your remodeled place).

Just one example: when you order new furniture, check the cost of the assembly service. It can be rather considerable, so think about doing it on your own. You can find tons of tutorials online, so it won’t a be a big deal (perhaps the biggest problem is to find the necessary equipment, but again, you can ask your friends).

You won't look as happy as these guys while remodelling, but it's worth it!
You won't look as happy as these guys while remodelling, but it's worth it!

That’s it for today! I do hope I managed to convince you that renovation is not as scary as it seems. If you have any other money-saving tips, please share them in the comment section. Have a nice day!

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