Is your kitchen feeling reminiscent of The Golden Girls famed cheesecake eating spot? Does your bathroom feature a 20 gallon per flush commode?
With the warmer weather here, many homeowners are thinking of making minor and major household improvements. And for most, the cost will be exorbitant: The average kitchen remodel tops $20,000 and a bathroom overhaul can run $8,000.
No worries! With some careful planning and smart choices, you can shave thousands off the cost of renovations.
Here are 7 terrific ways to save when remodeling.
1. Don’t Do a Complete Remodel
While it’s tempting to want to go all out, unless structural damage demands that a room or area be completely gutted, there’s rarely a reason to start from scratch. Instead of knocking down walls and hallways, try to envision the outdated area with a fresh coat of paint, new light fixtures and some minor décor changes.
Is your kitchen a total blast from the past? Instead of taking a sledgehammer to your cabinetry, consider replacing the drawer pulls and knobs and either staining or painting the cabinets. Bringing new life to old cabinets can be a full 50% less expensive than putting in brand new ones.
2. Shop Around For a Contractor
Choosing a contractor is not a decision to take lightly. You’ll want to find someone honest, professional and reliable – and willing to give you a decent price.
Don’t hire anyone on the spot; check out at least three different contractors before making your decision. Ask for references and meet with each contractor in person to get a feel for their character and professional conduct. Take note of whether they show up on time and their willingness to answer questions. Doing these simple tasks will provide you with important clues about their reliability. Be sure to ask your prospective contractor if they generally stick to their schedules or tend to fall behind. In this business, time is money, and a delay in a project’s completion can cost you a pretty penny.
Finally, be sure to see a detailed contract before making any final decisions. The contract should stipulate the final cost and estimated timeframe for the project.
3. Consider Long–Term Costs and Benefits
You don’t want to choose the most expensive option for every remodeling decision you’re going to make, but it often makes sense to pay more now if it’ll save you big down the line.
For example, if you’re installing clapboard siding, you’ll save in the long run by paying more for pre-primed and pre-painted boards. Using the more expensive prefinished claps means you’ll need half as many paint jobs in the future.
4. Pick Quality Mid-grade Materials
Choosing the cheapest materials usually ends up costing more in the future. But that doesn’t mean go with the most lavish and expensive. In general, it’s best to go with the midgrade option whenever possible.
One significant area where you’ll see this at play is in carpeting. Basic olefin and polyester carpeting will run you $1 to $2 per square foot, while wool costs upward of $9 to $11 per square foot.
If you are replacing old laminate countertops, don’t immediately jump to the stone products, like granite. While they are beautiful and often the most popular options, they are nearly double the price of solid surface materials like corian. You might opt for new laminate once you review the price difference. Some laminates can even look like expensive granite and quartz.
5. Update Your Window Dressing
You would love more natural light but knocking a hole in the wall for a new window might be drastic and expensive. Changing out your window treatments can make a significant impact to a room makeover and on the natural light your room lets in. You could trade out the heavy drapes or bulky vertical blinds for some opaque cellular shades and lighter fabric panel curtains.
6. Lend a Hand
You don’t have to be super-handy to help out and save money at the same time. You can easily do some of the demolition work, sanding, and painting yourself.
If you think you’re too clumsy for even these minor jobs, lend a hand with the cleanup and haul-away during the project. Why pay a cleanup crew $200 a day to sweep up sawdust when you can handle a broom just fine on your own?
7. Increase Efficiency, Not Size
If you feel like your kitchen is too cramped and you need to push out some walls to make it work, think again. You can easily re-organize your kitchen for maximum efficiency and save tens of thousands of dollars.
First order of business is to de-clutter your items. Start with the plasticware cabinet where lids seem to grow legs and disappear from. Clean out and dispose or donate the items you haven’t used in years.
Now you can focus on the space you really need. Replace large, clumsy, overfilled cabinets with pullout drawers that are equipped with racks for easy, aesthetic storage space. Upgrade your cabinets with dividers, pull-out trays and more.
Consider hiring a professional organizer to show you how to maximize the space you’ve got. The organizer’s fee and the money you’ll spend on the specialized cabinets will still fall way below the cost of an expansion.
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