Renovating your home is an exciting and stressful time even when you have all the money in the world to spend on your renovation. When you add in the constraints of working on a tight budget, your home renovation becomes more complicated.
Don’t get too stressed out, though. There are strategies you can use to make renovating on a tight budget both feasible and fun.
- Make a plan. Before you even start renovating on a tight budget, you need to plan out the renovation. List all the things you want to change about the space you’re renovating. Next, prioritize them. Put the items that must be done for safety or energy efficiency first. Next come the most important cosmetic changes. At the end of the list, write down things that it would be nice to do, but you can live without them if necessary.
- Know where you’re willing to compromise. Wood trim or cabinets can be made from MDF much more cheaply than from solid wood, especially if they’re going to be painted. Laminate countertops can mimic the look of granite or marble at a much lower price. If you’re more interested in function than what’s in fashion, you can save a lot of money by going for the less expensive options.
- Reuse what you’ve got. Sometimes you don’t have to completely replace something to give it a new look. Cabinetry is a perfect example. Fresh paint or stain and new hardware can completely transform the look of kitchen cabinets, vanities and built-in desks and shelving. A can of paint and some new door handles cost significantly less than an entirely new set of cabinets. Better yet, metallic spray paint will give your existing hinges and pulls a whole new look at a fraction of the cost of new hardware.
- Reclaim what others don’t want. A growing trend in flooring is reclaimed wood. This wood may come from beams or floors in old buildings that have been torn down. It can give your home a warm, lived-in look for a much lower cost than new wood. It’s also environmentally friendly because no new trees are cut down. You can extend this principle to just about anything. Salvage yards that deal in home renovation materials will sell you everything from used bathroom fixtures to used doors and windows for a fraction of the cost to buy them new. If you have one near you, a Habitat for Humanity ReStore sells salvaged materials and uses the profits to help build homes for people who need them.
- Shop smart. In addition to salvage yards, Ebay and Craigslist are two sources of renovation materials at a low cost. Much of what you’ll find there will be used, but you may occasionally find some new items as well. Make sure you know the cost of the items when you buy them new in a home improvement store to be sure you’re getting a good deal.
- Do it yourself. Labor is frequently more than half the cost of any renovation. Whenever you can do the labor yourself, you’ll save money. If you don’t know a lot about home renovation, you can take classes for free at many home improvement stores. As an alternative, try trading services with a friend who is good at do-it-yourself tasks. You could offer to babysit, help them with their taxes or whatever you have the skills to do in return for their handyman services.
- Re-purpose what you can. Do you need a kitchen island? Instead of paying for the cabinetry and installation to have a permanent one added to your kitchen, consider using something that will serve the same purpose. A desk, a table, a potting bench or even a pair of bookcases with a wood top can make a creative and inexpensive solution to your island needs.
- Don’t underestimate the power of paint. Whether it’s a whole new color on the walls, metallic spray paint on the cabinet hardware or an old paint job refreshed with a new coat, paint makes a world of difference for a relatively low price. It covers less expensive materials and any number of scratches and imperfections. It’s the budget-conscious renovator’s best friend.
Renovating doesn’t have to break the bank. With some careful planning and creativity, you can do your renovation on a tight budget and love the result.
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