Welcome to Post #2 in our “Renovation on the Cheap!” Series!
This week, we’ll be telling you about how we’re staying frugal during these seemingly expensive projects!
If you missed our first posts, you can check them out below!
Household Renovation on the Cheap!
Renovation on the Cheap- Post #1
When you think of home renovations and upgrades, you typically associate it with tons of expenses that will leave your wallet with a big, fat hole in it. It doesn’t have to be that way though!
If you enter into a project with a solid plan, you can save tons of money, still have an amazing outcome that LOOKS like you dropped a few thousands on it, and you won’t have a gaping hole in your wallet!
Sure, it takes a little more hard work to stay on a frugal budget, but, it is SO worth it. Trust me.
So, in our first post, we detailed our project list. Our biggest and most important project is finishing our lower level in our tri-level home. We’re going to be adding:
Large 3rd bedroom
Enclosed laundry room
Plus, the givens such as painting, adding flooring, fixtures, etc.
Just looking at that list, my brain jumps to $$$$$$$. But, since we are putting in a little extra work, it’s really only a couple dollar signs! Whew!
Here’s how we are saving a ton of money:
My dad is doing the majority of the work along with my husband- electrical, plumbing, framing, you name it. My mom, gramma, and I will be doing the painting and other things here and there
How you can do it: Ask around your community (your church, etc) and find people who are willing and able to help you out at minimal or no cost. Just make sure they actually KNOW what they’re doing so you don’t end up with a disaster on your hands when Jim So-and-So claims he can wire your addition with no problem, and, instead, starts an electrical fire. Yikes. Have a painting party- enlist a bunch of friends to help you paint. They provide free labor and you provide the pizza and beer!
Salvaging lumber to do all the framing.
How you can do it: Check out local dumps for tossed lumber that is still in good shape. Scout out construction dumpsters for perfectly good lumber (just make sure the dumpster isn’t on private property- you don’t want to be paying any fines, or worse, be arrested for trespassing!). Visit local “re-stores” and see if they have any lumber that people donated. Browse your local online resources like Craigslist- you’d be surprised what people give away for free or for a minimal cost!
Finding free materials on Craigslist.
We found a nearly brand new Kohler toilet for free and just had to haul it home ourselves.
Cost: Free (except the minimal gas to and from pickup- don’t waste your time if you’re going to have to drive an hour away to get something. Stay local so it’s cost effective)
How you can do it: Again, scout the Free page on Craigslist. You have to be quick because the good stuff goes fast (sometimes within minutes of someone posting it!), but, you can find some amazing things for nothing at all. Also, post in the Wanted section on Craigslist or your local online “garage sale” sites. Check these sites DAILY and I can guarantee you’ll snag some great things.
When my parents and gramma built their homes, they ended up swapping out a few fixtures that they didn’t like. Instead of tossing or donating them, they saved them for a situation just like this! Now, we have BRAND NEW fixtures at no cost to us.
How you can do it: Check out those “re-stores” and thrift stores again to find fixtures at crazy low prices. Look on Craigslist to see what people are giving away. You may need to spend a little time cleaning pieces up, but, it will be worth it when you aren’t spending hundreds of dollars on new fixtures. Don’t bother buying broken items with the intention of fixing them- you’ll never do it because you’ll have tons of other projects. Buy items that are in good condition that just need a little elbow grease to get them clean again.
Getting unused paint from friends/family.
My gramma bought a 5 gallon bucket of paint for her home and only used a couple gallons of it. It’s the same color we already have in our house, so, now we have 3 gallons of free paint to get us started.
Cost: Free for the first 3 gallons + the cost of however many gallons more we need
How you can do it: Ask around your local Home Depot, Lowes, or local paint store for gallons of paint that was either returned, never picked up, or was the wrong mix for someone. Some places will offer HUGE discounts on custom paints because they can’t just stock it back on the floor with everything else. Just make sure you don’t settle on an obnoxious color because it’s the only thing they have. Keep looking and if a family member or friend is doing some painting with a color you like, let them know you’d love to take any extra off their hands when they’re done.
Buying discounted items from our local Habitat for Humanity Re-Store
My mom and gramma found a great, brand new granite vanity counter-top with an under-mounted Kohler sink with hardware for a couple hundred bucks. It was a custom order from Lowe’s and the person ended up just donating instead of using it since they couldn’t return it. They also found a great mirror for under $40!
Cost: Under $300 for everything
How you can do it: Get familiar with your local re-stores and thrift stores. Ask about discounts too. I think some people feel weird asking for discounts because they think it will make them seem cheap. Well guess what!? If it saves you money, it’s worth it and who cares what anyone else thinks! They’re paying full price while you’re getting a percentage off ;) Our local re-store has a discount day where you spin a wheel and whatever it lands on, that’s the percentage you get to take off your entire purchase (my mom ended up getting 20% off!)
Choosing good quality, yet, inexpensive flooring options
Cost: Dependent on your local options
How you can do it: Flooring is something that is a little harder to find used and in good condition. This will probably be something that you’ll have to purchase new. Your best bet is checking out local flooring stores and finding out what’s on sale or what you can get a discount for. You can still pick out a nice quality option without breaking the bank. In all honesty, if you are preparing to sell your home, choose a flooring that looks great and will attract a buyer, but, don’t feel like it needs to be the highest quality. If they want the highest quality option out there, let them spend the money after they purchase the home. Don’t make it your expense.
Price match and search for the best prices
Cost: Dependent on the item you’re looking for and your local stores
How you can do it: For basic construction materials, most places are going to be pretty similar, if not exactly the same on prices. If you are military, you can get 10% off at Home Depot and Lowes so make sure you ask for the discount when checking out (you’ll need to show your ID). Keep an eye out for coupons too. For other items like fixtures, etc., check out the prices at all of your local stores. If one store is significantly cheaper, but, you want to purchase the item elsewhere along with some other supplies, see if the store of your choice will price match. Even though it takes a little more time and effort to check prices at multiple stores, it could save you a chunk of money in the long run. Just remember, make sure it’s cost effective- if the monetary difference is only a couple cents or a couple dollars, it probably isn’t worth it.
Since we haven’t started our renovation yet, I can’t give you the exact dollar amount that we’re spending, because I have no idea what it will be! We’re aiming to stay under $5,000 which is a pretty conservative budget, but, I think we can do it! As we continue through the series and acquire more of our materials, I’ll be updating the cost.
One last tip…
Financing your renovation. If you take any tips away from this series, take this one- don’t sign up for the credit cards at the home improvement stores.
Why you ask? The interest rates are ASTRONOMICAL and you will end up paying 3x+ the amount you wanted to for your renovation. If you must use a credit card, choose one with the lowest interest rate. If you must to take out a loan, find one with the lowest interest rate. Ideally, avoiding credit cards and loans is the best route, but, sometimes you need to go that route- just be as smart as you can about it. If you have a family member or friend who is willing to front you the money, take them up on it and set up a payment plan if needed. If you have a super flexible time frame to complete your project, slowly acquire your materials by putting aside extra cash each month so you can avoid credit, loans, or other debt. Instead of using that $4.00 a day for a latte, put it in a jar or a separate account and use it for materials. My husband and I were not fond of taking the money from my parents to do the downstairs, but, we both felt better about it since we know we will be able to pay them back in a couple months when our home sells.