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How to Maximize Remodeling Savings
With any remodeling project, many money saving ideas can backfire and cost you a lot of money in the end. Most of my customers understand that remodeling is expensive. I work very hard with my clients to keep costs as low as possible. But a lot of them think that they can save money on a project by doing part of the work themselves or by cutting corners on materials. Usually, these schemes end up costing more money in the long run or extend the project schedule significantly. If you’re planning a major renovation, here are some pitfalls to avoid in the attempt to save money when remodeling.
Large house with a traditional exterior in Denver.
Pitfall: “I Can Do the Demolition.”
“It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to use a sledgehammer”. You would think that would be true, but one swing of the hammer against a hidden plumbing pipe can cost you a ton of money in repair and cleanup. Most contractors utilize one skilled worker to help guide unskilled workers to make sure there are no costly mistakes. Also, when the contractor does the demo, he’s responsible for debris removal and dust containment. Once you take on this task, these become your problem and you will incur the cost of renting a dumpster and a dust-containment system. Demo is also the most injury-prone part of most projects. Frankly, it doesn’t make sense to risk injury for such a marginal savings.
Pitfall: “Can I Reuse Materials or Fixtures?”
Some homeowners insist on reusing a tub, sink, countertop or range to save a few hundred bucks. The old stuff may not look bad in its old setting. But once you turn the old into new, an existing tub or range will look especially drab by comparison. In my experience, people who reuse a fixture end up regretting it. Plus, older fixtures are prone to fail sooner than their new counterparts and replacing them later may require tearing out the new work.
Gorgeous glass house with large outdoor space.
Pitfall: “I’ll Do the Painting.”
This is a very common item that homeowners think will save them money. But very few of my clients have had real experience in the preparation required in painting new doors, trim and walls. Most painters will tell you that the prep, priming and painting of trim & doors take up about 2/3 of the total price to paint. Trimming and rolling of the walls are a small portion of costs. And this is to say nothing of how much evening and weekend time it will take away from your family. The bottom line, a bad paint job can ruin a project. So if you decide to undertake the painting, proceed with caution.
How to Really Save Money
You may think that a high price tag guarantees the best products, but that’s not always true. For example, you don’t have to use natural stone in your bathroom. Porcelain tile can closely resemble the look and feel of natural stone. It can also be significantly cheaper and require less maintenance. The same is true for interior doors and trim. If you are looking to have a painted finish, composite woods such as Masonite or MDF can get you the same look while keeping the price more affordable. Probably the most common item I tell people to think long and hard about are the items that are behind your walls. Adding that extra outlet or moving the sink to a better location are much cheaper to do while your walls are open. So try to think about potential uses of a room and install the required items during the project.
Make an overall plan
Look at the big picture initially, even though you may need to phase some aspects later. Engage a reputable builder for pricing as soon as possible and on a regular basis. Instead of bidding out the project later, you could consider engaging in a pre-construction services contract following the first builder interviews to help with the cost. It’s tempting to compare builders’ expenses to find the best deal, but this usually results in lengthier timelines and little significant savings.
Remember always that not everything needs to be new
Focus on your home’s strengths and how you might use those to your advantage in designing a remodeling plan. Everything doesn’t have to be new. So many items that may appear out of date—old moldings, hardware, and lights, for example—have character and design detail strength that is often ignored.
Walls and important fixtures should be left alone
Moving walls, electricity, plumbing, and gas lines places your project in a separate category, which often results in increased expenditures for permits and specialist labor. Though these large-scale remodels are truly revolutionary, she notes that they are grittier, more expensive, and necessitate more behind-the-scenes planning.
Allow the experts to be experts
Be ready to believe an experienced architect or builder who warns you up front that the scope of the project will cost more than you anticipated or will exceed your budget limit. It is usually preferable to choose beautifully finished rooms built-in with high-quality materials within your budget, rather than crossing off every single item on a wish list. Reduce or phase the scope of work as needed—and do so early in the process. Once you start making changes on the fly, controlling expenditures can become very difficult.
Dainty kitchen with a white backdrop and plant accents.
Bringing the Design and the Contractor Together
Large scale remodeling is complex, and the best way to save money is to hire a design-build company that can help you find ways to reduce the price without compromising the end result. A design-build company has staff that helps with the designing, estimating and building of your project. When reviewing material choices selected by a designer collaborating with the people that build the project is a smart way to go. Although an independent design professional may have a certain look in mind, it is the contractor who works with the materials and sees the performance in the field year after year. He or she can be a great practical resource for spotting areas where you’re paying for expensive products when cheaper ones will perform just as well. Bringing the design and build together just makes sense.