Home improvement projects can increase the resale value of your house, transform drab rooms into dazzling showcases, and equip you with handy skills. They can also cost you…a lot.
Have you been holding off on your home improvement dreams because of the cost factor? With some creativity and a little extra effort, you can cut costs in many areas and take those projects from dream to reality.
Top ten ways to save money on home improvement costs:
Be Calendar Savvy
Buy at the right time to save big on appliances, supplies and materials. Take advantage of holiday sales at large retail stores, especially if you need new appliances. September and October are also good months for appliances, as the manufacturers are releasing their new models and retailers are motivated to get rid of the old ones. If you’re not too picky about selection, wait until January when retailers are even more motivated to get rid of last year’s models.
Save your power tool and electronics purchases for Black Friday (the day after Thanksgiving) and Cyber Monday (the Monday after Thanksgiving).
In the market for lawn care supplies or outdoor furniture? Wait until the end of the summer for the best deals.
This is where a little extra research can pay off. Avoid the retail markup for your home improvement supplies by taking advantage of the many secondhand options available to thrifty homeowners. Habitat for Humanity operates “ReStores” nationwide, featuring all kinds of home improvement supplies and materials. You can find your local ReStore here.
Cybersleuths can use Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, VarageSale, eBay, and Freecycleto find the best deals on everything from appliances to zip ties.
Try salvage yards and auctions for building supply purchases. To find local auctions, do an online search for “building material auction + [your state].” Contractors in your area might also be willing to sell you their leftover materials at a better-than-retail price.
DIYWR (Do It Yourself Within Reason)
Even those projects that require a contractor have some elements that you can do yourself, like demo, prepping surfaces, painting, and ripping out carpet. If the task doesn’t require a special skill, consider taking the time to do it yourself, rather than paying a professional to do it, with a hundreds-per-hour price tag. YouTube channels like FIX IT Home improvement offer an endless selection of short how-to DIY videos.
Why shell out hundreds of dollars for a tool you only plan to use once or twice? Renting is a cost-effective option for lots of tools, especially the big or obscure ones (where would you even keep a wallpaper steamer if you bought one?) At RentalHQ you can enter what you need to rent along with your ZIP code for a list of local options.
It Pays to Hoard
When it comes to home improvement, it’s actually a good idea to hold onto small leftover supplies from all of your projects. That way, next time you need a certain size nail or anchor, you don’t have to go pay for an entire new set at the hardware store. Keep your collection organized and you’ll have your own pop-up store in your basement or workshop, right when you need it.
Refurbish, Don’t Replace
Using what you already have will save you a considerable amount of money. Why pay for brand-new cabinets when you can re-paint or stain the ones you have, or even replace the doors for a completely new look?
A simple change-up of knobs and pulls can have a dramatic overall effect on a room, and it’s immensely cheaper than a full remodel.
DIY resurfacing kits can upgrade the look and feel of your countertops for hundreds of dollars, vs. the thousands you would pay for granite or quartz.
Where do you start when it’s time to hire a contractor? It’s best to get a referral from someone you know and trust. If that’s not an option, ask your neighborhood Facebook or Nextdoor group. You may also be able to get a referral from the staff at your favorite local kitchen and bath showroom.
When it’s time to hire a contractor, make sure you get three in-person bids with references for each bidder. Never hire a contractor without looking them up on Better Business Bureau .
The best time to hire a contractor is during their off-season, right after the new year. When work is slow, you may be able to get a better deal. But hiring a contractor isn’t just about chasing the lowest price. It’s about maximizing your value. A cheap contractor with no references and an online trail of complaints is not worth the savings.
Keep it Simple
Any project that requires relocating plumbing or electrical outlets is going to raise the cost of your project. Be creative and find ways to work with the current location of these features if you want to keep costs down.
Let It Go
Although it’s good to hold onto supplies you may use in the future, it’s also smart to let go of the stuff you have no use for. If you’ve replaced or upgraded, see how much you can get for the item you replaced. Remember all those resale sites where you got a great deal on your supplies? You can make some extra cash by selling on those same sites. Faucets, ceiling fans, cabinetry…no matter what the material, it’s worth a try to help offset the cost of your project.
Perfection is Overrated
Have you heard of oops paint? This is marked-down paint that was mixed incorrectly and never used. Check your local retailer’s clearance section or ask at the paint counter. Consider this thrifty option for projects where color doesn’t matter (for example, the inside of a closet) or smaller projects that require less than one gallon of paint.
“Scratch and dent” appliances have never been used or owned, but they have mostly cosmetic imperfections that result in a mark-down, usually by a third-party seller. Review this scratch and dent buying guide to decide if this money-saving strategy will work for you.
Now that you’re armed with these money-saving tricks, feel free to go forth and bring your home improvement dreams to fruition, without having to take out a second mortgage on your new and improved home.