5 Ways To Save Money On Home Improvement Projects

Save Money on Home Improvement

If you follow my facebook posts (hint, hint, wink, wink, nudge), you know that I am in the middle of retiling my master bathroom.  This project started because I had a broken tile in my shower and bought a grout removal tool to replace my broken tile.  After removing the grout, I had another grout line that was black.  When I started removing the grout, the tile popped off and I had mold behind the tile.  My wife says this was the most expensive grout removal tool ever.  But lucky for you, I can help you learn what to do and not to do and ways to save money on Home Improvement Projects.

  1. Figure Out What You Can and Cannot Do:  Unless you want to end up on an episode of DIY Disasters, you need to figure out what you can tackle yourself and what your spouse has the stomach for as well.  My wife, for example, wants every home improvement project to be like an episode on HGTV – 30 minutes and you are done.  So, how do you figure out what you can and cannot do?  The cost for a professional to do something is a very good sign of how hard something is to do and the consequences of not doing it right.  For example, you can get someone to tile a room for you for about $2.50 per square foot.  Alternatively, you can get someone to lay carpet in a room for about $1.00 a square foot.  Installing carpet is much easier than installing tile as long as you have the right tools.  Looking at other areas of the house, you will see that plumbers and electricians can cost you around $100 an hour whereas the floor installers above are receiving about $50 an hour.
  2. Learn From the Pros – Once you look at the cost, go to You Tube and search for videos on how to do what you want to do.  “How to tile a bathroom,” will bring up thousands of videos that teach you every aspect of tiling.  Besides teaching you how to execute your home improvement project, you will also get a good sense of if you can or cannot do the project.  Once you are finished researching online, make a list of questions.  Search Google for those questions for blogs on the subject.  Try to avoid discussion forums because you never know who is giving you advice.  Next, go to the local hardware stores and ask questions.  I went to Home Depot and asked a 60 year old woman about 40 questions on tiling.  She had done more tiling than I would ever dream of doing in my life.  She answered every one of my questions and gave me a lot of other tips along the way.  Also, check with your friends.  Call the ones you know are handy around the house and ask for tips.  This will likely be your least fruitful source of information, but you may get lucky and get a friend that offers to help.
  3. Practice First – Before I ever try a new home improvement project, I get some practice.  When I installed wood floors in my house, I helped a friend with his wood floors.  When I started this tiling project, I tiled two other, less visible, rooms – the laundry room and second bathroom.  Each time I was able to improve my skills and learned what to do and what not to do.
  4. Shop Around – I have a Home Depot and Lowes close to me.  I typically shop at Home Depot due to better customer service.  Since I was spending around $1,000 on this project I wanted to see what kind of money I could save.  I went to Home Depot and recorded the prices on the tools and materials I needed and then went to Lowes for comparison.  The prices were similar, but I was able to save just under $100 by buying a few items at Lowes.  As a bonus, Lowes had a checklist for tile projects that helped me plan for my job.
  5. Estimate Your Time Correctly – By setting the right expectations with your spouse, you can avoid paying the divorce attorney her retainer.  I correctly estimated my first two rooms would each take a weekend of work and an extra day for the grout to dry.  However, when it came to the Master Bathroom, I thought it would take 5 days.  I took off two days of work and used the Columbus Day holiday to give me 5 working days.  I was able to finish the floor in the 5 days, but the studs are still showing in the shower.  My wife is not happy with me at all!  It is going to take me another two weekends of work to finish this project and then another week for the grout to dry in the shower.  Use this rule of thumb to keep your spouse happy(ier).  If you are a novice, estimate the longest time you can imagine that it would take to complete the project and then quadruple it – yes 4x.  If you are very handy, then double that time.

Keep in mind that it is not always cheaper to do these projects on your own.  My laundry room would have cost $250 to pay someone to tile it.  It cost me more than $100 in supplies and 20 hours of my time.  Had I not been using that room for practice, it would have not been worth my time to do the work myself.  I would have much rather spent the beautiful September and October weekends with my wife and daughter.

You can keep up to date on my wacky ideas by following us on facebook.  Make me feel better though and share what kind of projects you have tacked to save money in the comments below.

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