Under Control: Use These Strategies to Keep Your Reno Costs Down

Everyone has heard horror stories about home renovation projects that skyrocketed out of the homeowner’s financial control. A budget was set, remodeling begun, and before they knew it, they’d blown through their budget and were dipping into savings to get the work finished.

That’s a nightmare scenario you can avoid, by following a few simple guidelines.

1) Ask your builder about leftover products from other jobs. Chances are, they may have, or know another builder who has, items left from previous projects that are ready for the garbage. For example: fixtures are often unreturnable and flooring can be cut and planed even if it was used on another site, rather than buying all new flooring for your kitchen. Contractors are usually happy to make a few calls to colleagues to find clients good deals on leftovers – it’s better for the environment, as well as the customer.

2) Add functionality, not necessarily extra space. An extension can run in the tens and even hundreds of thousands, so think carefully about your existing space first. Consider remodeling the kitchen, for example, so it is ultra-efficient, rather than adding more square footage. Opt for function, not space, and you may be able to eliminate the need for an addition.

3) Have someone pick up the demolished stuff for recycle and resale. According to experts in the industry, as much as 85 percent of the items that build a home can be recycled or resold. Rather than paying someone to haul it all away, call your local charity who will take plenty of the things from your torn down home reno, clean them up and either sell them, or use them in projects of their own. You save money, you help this charity, and the environment and local landfill gets a break. Everybody wins.

4) Do your own demo! This advice comes with a caveat: it’s best to leave indoor demo to the professionals, but if it’s an old deck, go ahead. Knowing precisely what spot to target with a sledgehammer inside takes knowledge and experience. But pulling down an old shed or deck is fairly easy, and you can blow off some steam at the same time!

5) Keep an eye on costs throughout the renovation. If the cabinets you want for the kitchen are 20 percent more expensive now than they were last year, consider shopping online at one of the many discount vendors for renovation supplies. This, too, comes with a caveat: it can be tricky choosing something over the Internet that you can’t see and touch, so talk to your renovator about findings reliable sites. These professionals always have the inside track on where to buy certain items at good prices, and are happy to share that info with their clients.

6) Discuss the budget with your renovator, then add 10 to 15 percent as a cushion. Of course, your experts will do their best to keep costs in line, but they can’t see through walls and anticipate every problem. We recommend planning on an additional 10-15 percent “in case” money – as in, in case the wiring is faulty, in case a pipe is cracked, etc. You get the idea. Always have a contingency plan.

Keeping your budget in check can be done, but it is vital that you are realistic, and discuss it with your renovator before work begins. No one likes nasty financial surprises, and your team can help ensure you don’t have too many economic ones along the way to the finished reno.