• Norma Walton

Ten Ways to Save Money on a Home Renovation



A couple we know through hockey has been looking to move for the past couple of years but found the prices sky high. They have now decided to renovate their existing home. This is sensible if you like your location, like your neighbours and like your lot and merely want a different house.


When you embark on your home renovation project, the first consideration is budget. Whether you have $10,000 available for a new bathroom renovation or $300,000 for a complete overhaul, that number is your first consideration in planning your home renovation. It is not unusual for people to spend double their budget on renovations so setting a budget and trying to stick to it is critical to success.


Wanting your living space to be beautiful is understandable but you must be realistic about what you can afford. Below I consider ten ways to save money on your house renovation with the objective of balancing your budgetary limitations with your outsized vision for your renovation.


1. Set Your Budget


Unless you just won the LottoMax jackpot, you’re going to need a budget. Sit down and work out a cost estimate you can present to your contractor when hiring for renovations. That will help establish what improvements you can afford and will also provide your contractor with a guide to what is realistic for you. Together you can then keep track of the money being spent once work is underway. As you go along, you can try to find ways to save and to make adjustments to material choices as the job progresses and you know where you are at.


2. Focus on Cash


Before you start renovations, it is prudent to have the cash set aside for the work you want done. If you are relying upon a line of credit, that is also fine. The key is to have the cash ready for when it is required. The last thing you want is to be counting on earning the money or raising the money midway through your renovations. If you are unable to afford your contractor’s current bill, construction will immediately cease, you will be subject to construction liens, and you will be left with an unfinished home. Make sure you have available what you need.


3. Avoid Emotional Decisions


We feel strongly about our houses. Your living space affects your mood and you want your house to make you happy. Nonetheless, always try to be rational when making renovation and material decisions. Bounce your thoughts off people unconnected to the renovations. Ask them their opinion. Think things through and make smart decisions that will save you money while also allowing you to achieve the results you want. Choosing a bold colour, for example, may be the perfect choice for you given your personality, or it may be a decision you’ll regret for a long time. Factor in what you want, what you can afford, and where you can compromise, all trying to be rational and logical, if you want to design a renovation without breaking the bank.


4. Plan Smart


Starting a renovation without a written plan and a detailed drawing is a mistake. You need a plan. You need to know whether you are re-modeling the entire house or just the bathroom. Depending on your budget, many times it makes sense to focus your energies and resources on improving the key rooms you use and those areas that are in dire need of work. That approach certainly permits you to spend less money yet still improve your home’s functionality and aesthetic.


5. Consider Some DIY


Consider the aspects of the home remodel you can take on yourself. For example, painting costs quite a bit of money but is an easier job you may be able to complete on your own or with the help of friends and family. Flooring installation is sometimes the same. Focus on those areas that don’t require specialized knowledge. Perhaps you can do the initial demolition of a wall in your house, for example, and clean up from that demolition. Never consider doing it yourself for electrical work or plumbing where special skills are required, but any place where you have an ability, consider tackling the job yourself to save money.


6. Consider What You Can Reuse


You can find a lot of savings by considering things that can be reused. Reuse, repurpose, recycle. Kitchen cabinets and bathroom vanities can be refinished. My folks recently had their kitchen cupboards sanded and re-painted and they look brand new. You’d be amazed at what a difference it can make. It’s also better for the environment as fewer materials end up in the local landfill. Even the humblest, out-of-date cabinetry can be instantly updated with a fresh coat of paint and some fun new handles. Alternatively, you can also decide to get new cabinet doors but keep the bases. Reusing items you have or repurposing them or at minimum recycling them makes you feel good and saves you money.


7. Buy Used


Not everything needs to be brand new. Reclaimed items have history and character that elude new. Have fun shopping on Kijiji, at salvage yards, at Goodwill and the RE Store, and at other used restoration shops. There is usually a large choice of unique items and materials that can really define your look. Although some of these things can be just as expensive as new, most are less dear and all can add a unique touch to your space. Be creative and think of new ways to use unexpected objects such as an antique dresser as a bathroom vanity or an industrial worktable for a kitchen island.


8. Buy Sale Items


When you are renovating on a budget, clearance items are a beautiful thing. As home renovation centers discontinue lines, you can make some exceptional finds often reduced by as much as 75%. Floor models can often be bought for less money. From sinks and faucets to bathroom vanities and countertops to moulding, you should never have to pay full price when you take the time to shop around. Put your name on some email lists so you’ll always know when a new sale comes around. It’s worth waiting for Black Friday and Boxing week sales, especially for things like appliances.


9. Think Budget Friendly


Does IKEA have the look you want but at a better price because you need to assemble it yourself? Can you find what you want for less money? Avoid Restoration Hardware if you can find the same look at Home Depot. Try to source your items at more budget friendly places. Don’t get too caught up on where you buy things and look instead at traditionally more affordable stores where DIY is expected so the prices are reduced. Places like IKEA allow you to stretch those loonies and this isn’t just for furniture. Storage in your kitchen, cabinets and vanities, and all types of other things can be found with lower price tags but slick looks that will enhance your living space. Look for items you can repurpose, or dress up to look fancier, such as premade shelves installed like built-ins.


10. Stick to Less Invasive Changes


The lower your budget, the less invasive your changes should be. Work with your contractor to find ways to make spaces more livable and organized, without the need to tear down walls, move plumbing or install new windows or doors. The more structural changes you make, the higher the price tag. Electrical installations, plumbing, and things like gas lines all add up to major costs. If you can work within the existing layout and find ways to improve functionality with the existing footprint, your budget will stretch much further.


Our friends plan to move out of their home just after Labour Day and hope to return by Christmas. By incorporating the above tips, they plan to save a bit of money while still achieving the look they want. That is the objective…getting what you want within your budget. Good luck!



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