Renovating your home is an exciting process! It’s also a big investment in time and money, but the end results are worth the effort (at least if you plan your renovation well). The dollars can add up quickly, but you don’t have to break your budget to get the look you want! Here’s your guide to saving money on home renovations without skimping on quality or style.
Saving Money on Home Renovations Means Choosing Your Battles
When you’re trying to cut costs on home renovations, prioritizing is key. Take a look at what you want to accomplish and the budget you have in mind. Which projects can you do yourself and what ones are worth hiring out?
Write a list of what projects are most important to you on top and work your way down. If you encounter unexpected costs, the list might change and you’ll have to adjust. Remember, if you spend big in one area, you’ll have to cut back in another.
The Heart of the Home
Where were some of your fondest home memories made growing up? In the kitchen, right? Kitchens are a central hub, and they’re what sell homes. Kitchens are easily the most expensive room to renovate because they have so many components. The average kitchen reno is $20,000 to $50,000—that’s a big chunk of most budgets. Here are some tips for creating a beautiful new space without blowing your entire renovation budget.
Cabinets and Hardware
Completely replacing all of the kitchen cabinets can add up! A great way to save on home renovations is to use your existing kitchen cabinets but freshen them up. New paint does wonders on outdated wood cabinets. This can easily be hired out, or you can do it yourself for even more savings. The key to refinishing cabinets is to make sure that you’ve properly prepped by sanding and applying a bonding agent before painting. This will help your paint stay on the cabinets and have a smooth finish. For a modern, lacquered finish, you can spray on high-gloss automotive paint.
Hardware can completely change the look of your kitchen. Brand-new hardware costs anywhere from $2.00 to $30.00 per pull. If you like the look of a high-end knob or pull, do some research. You may not find the exact same hardware at a cheaper price, but chances are you’ll be able to find one that looks very similar for a lot less. If you want to save even more, stick with the hardware you have and give it a fresh paint job. Or clean up its existing finish. Bar Keepers Friend is an awesome cleaner that will bring your hardware back to life.
Next to cabinets, kitchen countertops can be the biggest expense in a kitchen renovation. Granite and marble can range from $50 to over $200 a square foot! An inexpensive alternative is DIY concrete countertops. Concrete is durable and can come in just about any color or finish you’d like. Grinding the concrete to the aggregate (so that all of the different stones in the concrete pop out), polishing, and sealing gives a really pretty, clean finish. Butcher block countertops are also less expensive, and very warm and inviting, especially paired with painted cabinets.
If concrete or wood aren’t your thing, opt for stone lookalikes. Just like with cabinet hardware, you can get the look you like without breaking the bank. If you’re in love with a natural stone like marble or granite, try something engineered, like laminate, instead. Laminate has come a long way over the years! It comes in a wide range of finishes, including granite and marble. Laminate is also lightweight and much easier to install on your own than real stone is, saving you money on labor costs.
Nothing is more unappealing than walking into a bathroom with a stained tub, sink, or toilet. Even if you’ve scrubbed and bleached and scrubbed again, a bathroom can still look extremely dirty from years of wear and tear. Luckily, there are some inexpensive ways to repair or replace all of these finishes to help make your bathroom look new again.
Showers and Baths
Taking on a shower or bath remodel can feel expensive the minute you walk down the bathroom aisle in any home improvement store, but it doesn’t have to be. Check out these solutions for saving money on home renovations.
- Tile: New tile in a shower or bath can make a big impact and make everything feel fresh. Instead of covering your entire space with higher-end tile, start with a less expensive base, like basic subway tile, and add a small inlay, like a penny tile or a mosaic for some interest. Be sure to check out the clearance and discontinued section, too. You may find a bargain that’s just what you want!
- Shower Wall Panels: If you want to refinish your shower and don’t want to hire out tile installation, try shower wall panels. The great thing about panels is that you can easily install them yourself and don’t have to invest in a tile saw. No grout required! They’re very easy to install and give you a clean, new finish.
- Refinish: One of the easiest ways to clean up your shower or tub is to resurface what you have. Use a DIY kit or hire a professional to put a new surface on your tub or shower. You’ll save time and money in tub or shower removal and labor.
Vanities and Sinks
Bathroom vanities can be saved just like kitchen cabinets. If yours is sturdy, add some fresh paint and hardware and you’re good to go. If not, a fun and inexpensive way to replace bathroom cabinets is to refurbish an old dresser and retrofit it as a functional vanity with sink and storage. Check out this stunning transformation to help you learn how to do it.
Sinks can be saved with refinishing, just like your tub. You can save money by simply replacing the faucet and keeping your sink (if it’s in good shape). That small change will make a big impact.
Shocking Ways to Save
Electricity can seem like a big, bad, expensive problem in home renovations. Unfortunately, some problems are so big that sometimes you just need to hire a professional. On the bright side, there are a lot of small electrical projects that you can feel confident doing yourself. The number one rule before any electric work is to turn off the electricity! Now that we’ve settled that, and everyone’s safe, you’re ready to go!
Fans and Lighting
Ceiling fans can be big eyesores. Sometimes it may be less expensive to replace them with an attractive light. If you really want to keep the fan, here are some ceiling fan makeover ideas:
- Clean the fan and coat it with some spray paint
- Replace the glass covers and pulls to update the fan
- Fix an unbalanced fan by securing small weights to the tops of the blades
Save money on home renovations by installing new lights yourself. If it seems intimidating, ask a friend that’s done it before to help walk you through it, and you’ll be a pro in no time! When you’re shopping for fixtures, opt for brass if it’s in keeping with your style. Brass tends to be less expensive. If you’re trying to stay away from brass, don’t forget the power of refreshing current fixtures with paint!
A quick, easy way to save when renovating is to replace all of your light switches, outlets, and plates. This is an inexpensive way to make your home feel clean, cohesive, and new, and it’s simple to do yourself.
Zone Out Your Heating and Cooling
Central heating and cooling can cost up to $10,000, depending on the size of your home and whether or not you’re starting from scratch with duct work. That amount of money could definitely break your budget. Give these tips a try to save money on heating and cooling renovations.
Like other areas in your home, try to salvage what you have. If your furnace is broken, hire a professional to see if it can be repaired before completely tossing it. If you have to replace it, this article from Consumer Reports is a great guide to help you find the most cost-efficient furnace for your home.
When central heating isn’t an option or is too costly to repair, install a pellet stove. Pellet stoves pump out a lot of heat efficiently and are capable of heating large areas. They don’t take up too much space and can be an attractive focal point in your home.
Just like heating, central cooling can be costly. Instead of installing a central unit, install smaller units like these multi-zone mini units. These can be a lot more appealing than central air because you can control the climate of each room, saving you money on electricity overall. Installing ceiling fans is another inexpensive way to keep your home cool.
Paint is Powerful
A fresh coat of paint on the walls and baseboards of the home makes a huge impact! But don’t skimp on the paint. If you buy cheap paint, you’ll most likely spend more money buying multiple gallons to get the walls completely covered. Invest in a quality paint with a primer, and you’ll spend less time and money getting the job done. Another way to save on paint is to look for sales and buy in large quantities. Usually, the more you buy at once, the less expensive it is.
Flooring is one of those expensive things that almost always needs to be replaced when you’re renovating. Floors take the brunt of wear and tear and cover your entire home. While we all dream of original hardwood flooring hiding under the carpet, waiting to be sanded and refinished, not every homeowner is quite that lucky. Here are some other ways to save money on flooring.
Hardwood flooring is classic, beautiful, and universally desired (most of the time). But it is pricey depending on the type of wood you install. The flooring alone can cost anywhere from $3 to $5 a square foot. Then add installation fees, and it can be up to $10 a square foot, which gets expensive fast. You can get a durable, hardwood look with these alternatives, and they’re a lot easier to install yourself.
- Vinyl: Planks cost as low as $0.74 a square foot. It is durable, won’t warp with water spills, and comes in a wide variety of finishes. You can easily install vinyl yourself. The tricky part is starting with a very smooth, clean surface to install it on.
- Laminate: Just like vinyl, laminate flooring will help with saving money on renovations. Laminate floors can be as low as $0.49 a square foot. It’s scratch resistant, easy to maintain, durable, and installation is fairly simple.
Sometimes carpet is the best choice for certain “problem” areas. Tile, hardwood, laminate, and vinyl all call for a very smooth surface area for installation. This means more time and more money getting that surface just right. Installing carpet is an inexpensive way to cover flaws. The right pad under your carpet can compensate for slight variations in your sub-flooring. Carpet adds warmth and dimension, and it’s nice to have something soft to land on. Carpet is usually $2 to $5 a square foot, and most stores offer free installation.
A Balanced Budget and Renovation
Saving money on home renovations is all about balance. It really is possible to renovate on a tight budget if your renovation is well planned and your projects are prioritized. If a gourmet kitchen is a must-have, then opt for shower wall panels over tile. Paint salvageable cabinets and upgrade your flooring—it’s all about compromise.
Saving money on home renovations takes a little time and a little know-how. Don’t be afraid to get your hands a little dirty, and don’t be afraid to ask for help from a trusted source. I hope this helped you find some new ways to save some cash on your renovation projects. To get more articles like this one, filled with great money-saving and home improvement tips, be sure to sign up for my emails!