People told us to plan to spend at least 10 percent more on our home renovation that we budgeted for. I thank Jesus for those people because they were right, and we were lucky to have that knowledge going into our home renovation. It's a lot less scary when you plan for it!
We had a relatively strict budget for our renovation, because we didn't want to price ourselves out of our neighborhood. Below I'm sharing 10 tips for getting the upgrades you want, while staying in your budget.
1. Find the right balance between doing things yourself and hiring it out.
We were fortunate enough to have both of my parents helping us with this project. Their knowledge and grit, combined with our labor, meant we could do a lot of the renovation ourselves.
We didn't do demolition, because you can really mess things up if you don't know what you're doing. We didn't do the kitchen or bathroom ourselves, either. But, we tried to do almost everything else in an effort to save money.
Just like with everything else in life, look at your nonrenewable resource of time and compare it to the potential spend before hiring someone. Some things are worth outsourcing, while others are worth getting real gritty and handling it yourself.
2. Sometimes you get what you pay for, sometimes you don't.
Before you begin your project, write down what really matters to you. I cared a lot about kitchen counters and cabinets. I did not, however, care about how quality our shutters were, so we ended up selecting a plastic option. Hold tight to things you REALLY care about.
We selected the cheapest bathtub, which is something you'd never notice in our bathroom (I don't think!). We did not, however, scrimp on a shower head. For this, I am grateful every time I rinse my conditioner!
We found The Wirecutter to be particularly helpful for determining which products to purchase. We also learned that hiring a good tiler is really crucial - it can make a big difference. Installing counters, though? Pretty tough to mess that up!
3. Use Ebates for everything.
I know you're probably so tired of hearing me talk about Ebates. But it's SO simple. Every time you go to a site, it tells you how much cash back they're offering. You click the little button to confirm you want to opt in. Then you save money. It is so easy! Throughout our home renovation alone, Ebates deposited more than $400 in cash into our bank account. It really adds up when you do a big project and make an effort to shop online.
4. Craigslist is your friend.
I had no idea how much of the previous owners' decor we'd be able to sell on Craigslist. From old light fixtures to our carport (yes, a carport!) to the bathroom vanity, we sold everything we could. You'd be amazed at the things people buy! We even posted the rocks in our driveway and got over 25 responses asking for them. One man's trash really is another man's treasure.
5. Source multiple contractors.
Contractor estimates for work alone (not supplies) varied by more than $12k. We probably got eight estimates before we picked someone. Friend referrals were definitely the most effective for us.
6. Go to the Sears Outlet.
The Sears Outlet is amazing! It's a huge warehouse with tons of appliances. You have to really be observant - some may be a little dented or scratched. Others, though, will be in perfect condition but, for some reason or another, can't be sold in stores. Our fridge was $850 off of retail. We purchased our range there, as well. They're willing to price match if you find it cheaper online - or even at SearsOutlet.com. They have tons of locations and each store's inventory is updated online.
7. Do not pay full price for appliances.
No matter what you do. You can always, always get your appliances on sale. Between Labor Day, Black Friday, New Year's, President's Day, Memorial Day, etc. In October, we made a list of everything we needed to buy. Then, we hit Black Friday like fools. We did it again at the start of the New Year. Our washer was marked down by $250! Be organized and patient and you can save a boatload on appliances.
8. Visit your local Habitat Re-Store.
Habitat for Humanity has home improvement stores, where they sell donated items. I have heard they vary greatly by location, but the one by us had some amazing deals. We bought all of our bathroom tile for $30 there. I still really want to replace our front door and check their selection every few weeks. They have great ceiling fans, lighting, etc. We just bought new dining chairs there, too!
9. Check out IKEA cabinets.
We did not end up purchasing IKEA cabinets, but I know a lot of people who have and love them. They're definitely worth looking into. A few times a year, they do a friends & family cabinet sale, too, which means you can get really deep discounts.
10. It's a part-time job.
I had no idea how much time and energy went into a home reno on a budget. It's so much work! It's worth it, without a doubt. But if you're trying to save money, plan on spending a good bit of time doing research and working in your house. Would I do it again? Oh heck yes. It is absolutely worth it. But look at it as a part-time job. :)