10 Ways To Save Money On Your Remodel

At the beginning of last year, I thought I was the uncredited queen of saving money….that is until we bought a sixty year old house and started remodeling it. Labor bills, power tools, and so many things I had never purchased before like cabinets, flooring, and doors. It’s an overwhelming process, and it tests your patience. Now that we are six months in (not planned btw) I feel like I have learned a few things to save some cash through trial and error, so I thought I would share those learned nuggets of info with you guys today! I am not a guru by any means, but I am starting to feel like I have a better grip on our remodeling budget.

1. Shop around and compare

This is one of my better tips, which is why I put it first. Think of any industry that thrives off of the “quote” pricing system, some that come to mind are weddings, catering, and contractors/labor. When you have to search & contact someone and then wait for them to come to your home and give you a quote not only are they hoping that they are the only person you contacted, but chances are you wont go to the extra trouble to check the pricing and you will just book the job to get it crossed off your list. Don’t do it! Check with at least two other people and get a few quotes, then you will have an assortment of pricing to decide from…plus you will see if one of the bids is astronomically high in contrast to the others.

I learned this through a mild experience with painters. We sought out three bids with three different people for a few rooms, two bids came out to eight hundred dollars and the remaining bid was estimated at three grand! If he had been my first and only call, I would have assumed that was just the going rate and wasted a ton of cash in the process. Long story shot, retailers in the remodeling industry want to drag you through a conversation and keep the bottom line unclear…have a research based mindset when shopping.

2. Stay off Pinterest & Instagram

I know what you’re thinking, you’re going “Wait, Natalie…I already have my perfect dream house planned out! How will I ever know what I want to buy and order if I don’t get inspiration from my carefully curated boards!”

Let me tell you why this can turn into a financial disaster. Don’t get me wrong Pinterest is an awesome inspiration source for styles and color palettes but searching for that perfect XYZ can leave you on a quest for something that is ultimately out of your budget and limit your mind to affordable options when they are right in front of you.

For example, I love Fireclay Tile for the unique shapes and colorful geometric designs they offer and after doing a brief Instagram search decided we needed geometric backsplash. Needed, like a we-are-going-to-explode-without-them kinda need! The reality is I spent hours trying to make cuts to fit this insanely expensive tile into our budget, proceeded to scour the aisles of Home Depot for lookalikes, when in reality plain subway tile would give a similar vibe for a fraction of the cost. Plus, retailers LOVE when you come in with a specific “vision” because it translates into $$$ for them.

3. Borrow tools from friends, neighbors, and family.

Within a week of getting the keys to our house I started ordering tools off of Amazon left and right. Our house was full of saws, paint guns, air compressors, and tons of drills. By month three, I was so over ordering yet another dang power tool and out of need asked my brother if he happened to have a hopper for some wall texture and he brought one right over. It wasn’t like we needed to texture our walls every year, so borrowing it was the way to go and was the most cost effective option. Now when we need something, we check in with everyone we know before buying it. Not only is it a great thing to utilize on the receiving end, but we’ve let other people know what we have so they can borrow from us too!

4. Sell the old stuff!

This one is great for padding your budget. When we remodeled our kitchen we made sure to sell anything that could be sold and donate things we couldn’t sell instead of just tossing them out. Light fixtures, sinks and faucets, appliances, cabinetry (in good condition), and hardware are all things that can be sold or donated to give you some extra cash. Plus anything you don’t throw into the dumpster costs you less when its time for the trash to be collected.

5. Hire professionals when it’s really necessary.

So many things make DIY appealing! The cost, the reward, the pride of doing something all by yourself, but sometimes professional help is necessary and cost effective if you consider the downside of something going wrong. I have heard stories about people having to rip everything up all over again because of something they should have hired out. Do it once, and do it well!

6. Attempt to cook at home.

I say attempt because it really takes some effort and a knack for survival in a haphazard environment to pull this off. If you are ripping up your kitchen, one of the hidden costs is going out to eat for every meal. We started our renovation in the summer so the grill served as our primary cooking station, but as the temperature dropped we had to get creative with our Keurig and our microwave. Trader Joes was a really great place to shop, since the single serving microwave options are numerous and decently healthy in dire circumstances. We also heated oatmeal in the mornings and ate a lot of cereal and salads. There isn’t a perfect strategy with this so count any meal you eat at home as a win.

7. Find the least expensive group and choose color/style from there.

By this I mean when you’re choosing things like carpeting. It can be overwhelming to choose from three hundred color options so give your brain and wallet a break by finding what you’re comfortable spending on and choosing a color or style within that limit. You will save money and be free of floating samples lurking around your house.

8. Ask for help, and accept it when it’s offered.

Your community wants to help you, and they are the best labor around because they usually will make you have some fun in the process. Our parents and friends have been so helpful and we’ve had so much fun working with them on the weekends. Ask your people for an extra hand when you need it, and accept the help if someone offers.

9. Check out goodwill, craigslist, and rebuilding centers for deals.

This one goes right along with the last tip, you do not have to buy all your supplies new! There are so many good deals to be found at used stores and on posting sites and you can save some serious coin. Here are some deals on our kitchen remodel that I am particularly proud of 🙂

A pack of 65 electrical outlet covers and a brand new toolbox at goodwill for nine dollars. A light fixture for twenty five dollars and 6 crates (!!!) of blue Pratt and Larson Tile for twenty dollars from The Rebuilding Center in Portland. Rejuvenation towel bar for one dollar at the outlet store near our house. It’s worth taking a look at some of these places before you hit a retail store, trust me there are so many fun things to find and you will save a bundle if you find the right deal.

10. Instead of financing, deal with what is and save for next quarter.

Nothing is worth paying off with added interest, I promise. Those cabinets you love aren’t worth the grief of paying for them months and months after they are installed. Something I have had to develop during this whole process is the ability to deal with a less than ideal situation until I have the cash in hand to solve it. If I am really dying to repair something and its out of the budget, I hold off until next quarter and set aside the cash week by week. This is something I am really trying to remember right now regarding our bathroom since I’m not thrilled with where things are at, I am trying my best to be patient until its time to take the jump.

I hope some of these tips inspire you to cut a financial corner on whatever big project you’re tackling at the moment 🙂 If you have a tip that I missed (duh, of course you do!) leave it in the comments below.


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  1. 3
    Shelby Kilgore

    Great tips!! Pricing can be so vague, you are so right. We got our countertops and had the hardest time getting a bottom line.

  2. 5
    John Kingsbury

    Congrats on your remodel! My wife and I went through ours in the early 2000s and we are still enjoying the results. Nice to see young people buying homes!

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