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Design Your Dream Home

Your renovation project can often come with a big price tag, a lot planning, and sometimes years of saving money to create your dream space. Here are 7 ways you can save money while helping your aesthetic and functional goals.

1. Top tips to save money on a renovation

Plan Ahead: Do not jump the gun and start buying items! Plan thoroughly before you purchase, items may need to be returned or exchanged for items which are the proper size and specs once the entire design is planned out. Trust me, this will save you money and headache.

Shop Around: Whether this is seeking multiple bids from contractors or searching the internet for which website sells the faucet you want for the best price.  You may even find a sale or promotion. Don’t settle for the first thing, do your homework.

Time is Money: Often clients feel that paying a designer is a waste of money because they can handle everything themselves. Planning for any renovation requires many many hours of meticulous planning, sourcing, and purchasing and tracking, not to mention on-site management during the process. If you don’t have the free time or expertise to complete and oversee your renovation, which often equates to a full time job, call in an expert to help. What may take you hours to source one product, can take your designer a matter of minutes to read your mind and show you exactly what you never knew you always wanted. Your valuable time should be spent with your children or your partner, or at your day job.  Phone a friend, it may save your marriage during a stressful renovation.

2. How do you determine what to do yourself versus hiring someone?

Sweat Equity is the best tip for saving money on a renovation. Bring your DIY skills to the table, only hire a professional for the portion of your project which you cannot competently complete yourself. An excellent place to start is painting.

On the portions of renovation that have higher stacks for safety or damage to your home if done incorrectly, always hire a professional, such as structural changes, electrical and plumbing. Remember your family’s safety is ensured by proper installation.

Some portions or renovation work are an art form. I would never recommend anyone attempt to install their own drywall. This fantastically awkward task has a lot of precision and even a screw sunk too deeply will not allow you to get the proper service texture when mudding and taping.

3. Are there certain things you want to try to avoid (like plumbing) or that don’t add value?

The biggest budget killers in a renovation come from layout changes which disrupt or require changes to plumbing, electrical and/or structural framing. The cost of these larger and more intrusive renovations need to be weighted heavily against the return-on-investment (ROI).  If you are renovating your house to sell, it may not be worth taking out part of a wall in the kitchen if it means you need new footings and a beam to replace a loading bearing section when it only gives you an extra 18” of counter space. When renovating your forever home, your return on investment from adding an additional 5K line item to your bathroom renovation budget to install a curbless shower is very different, who can put a price on a home spa experience.

4. Creative ideas or ways to save on cost of materials

Clever ways to save money on the material for your renovation start with long range planning. If you know what material and fixtures you need, and have no rush to acquire them, it gives you the best advantage to find the cheapest cost or vendor. Shop around. 

Plan to take advantage of those big sale times of the year. Black Friday, Memorial Day or Fourth of July. Vendors have mega sales during these holidays. Also some brands only have their sales and promotions once a year. For example if you know the brand of appliances, specific models and sizes you want for your kitchen renovation you will be prepared to scoop those items up during a sale event.

Architectural reclamation and leftover building supply yards exist in most every city. These are large warehouses where building materials are donated or dropped off from contractors which are left over from current job sites. There is no guarantee what you will find there, or what quantities, but you may find a palette of tile at a fraction of the cost. 

Outlets stores exist for most major appliance retailers also, such as Best buy, and floor models at home improvement stores change seasonally and especially near year’s end to make way for new models. On these large ticket items a good deal can be found if you have time to wait and hunt.

5. Any tips when budgeting and planning a renovation?

When it comes to the overall budget for your renovation, be honest and write down a hard number of what you can afford. A renovation or refresh can be completed with most any budget. A can of paint can cost $50 and can make a huge difference. For most of us who have a budget and have been saving for a renovation, there are items of focus or added importance, and these items come at a cost in the give-or-take game. What facets are the most important to you, spend your money in those areas, buy the items you are in love with. Other areas of lesser importance may provide you budget reprieve by using a functional yet not name-brand fixture. For example, If you really want the expensive wallpaper, then save money and pair it with an inexpensive subway tile. If you desire a conversation-starting gorgeous piece of natural stone for your kitchen island, maybe opt for a more simple and less expensive countertop choice for the rest of your counters. 

When planning a renovation budget, know that changes to your floor plan are the most expensive. Moving walls, plumbing and electrical will cost you. If you can live with the original layout and update the fixtures and appliances you have already saved a major part of your potential budget. The second biggest renovation budget killer can be changes that affect the exterior of your home or that need engineering and structural assistance. For example, if you are changing the size of a window, ensure that the cost to reframe, weather proof, repair siding, and extra permit preparation is balanced with the portion of the overall budget it eats up. Again, is the layout change worth the cost and what is your return on that investment?

6. Are there certain times of the year when it’s better to renovate and why?

Times of the year to renovate your home depend heavily on where you live. Some areas have intense winters and waterlogged spring seasons where any exterior work is impossible to complete. Interior work during these seasons can be preferable. Other areas of year round work are possible. If you are renovating your home to sell, know that many other people may be booking up the contractors in the winter season for a spring listing. Know your local area. For example, many HVAC installers are swamped with the first cold snap of winter or the reverse of air conditioning when the heat waves roll through. Plan ahead for off-season renovations; this may just allow you to work with the contractor you desire, or even for a better cost because they are not in demand.

7. Tips to help people creatively reuse materials

One of my favorite reuses of materials relates to kitchen renovations. When you remove your old kitchen cabinets to make way for your upgraded vision, in most cases the old cabinets can easily be installed in your garage for super slick additional storage and move the old refrigerator out there also, no one will complain about a beer fridge or the additional freezer space.

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