If you’re a homeowner, then chances are, you’ll probably plan at least some type of home improvement project in your life time. Planning a remodeling project can be both exciting and scary. Whether you’re doing your very first renovation or you’re a serial rehabber, every project comes with its own set of challenges. Budgeting is one of those challenges. We all want that dream kitchen or bathroom that we see plastered all over Pinterest and Instagram, but those projects definitely don’t come cheap!
The average kitchen remodel costs almost $20,000, while remodeling a bathroom averages over $9,000. And these are just AVERAGES. Meaning average sizes with average finishes. If you have a large space, or opting for a custom luxury design with high-end finishes, then that cost can easily start to skyrocket.
This infographic by HomeAdvisors shows the national averages for 57 common home improvement projects.
How You Can Save – Where to Cut Costs
No one wants to hear they have to sacrifice certain areas of their renovation they really wanted, like the beautiful marble countertops you’ve had your eye on, because you’re going over budget. Luckily, there are some easy ways to maximize your budget so you don’t have to give up any of the features you really want!
#1: Don’t use a GC and self manage contractors
Hiring a General Contractor (GC) to oversee the project definitely has its advantages – it’s convenient and takes a big load off your shoulders. But that convenience also comes at a price.
GC’s on average charge anywhere between a 15% – 20% markup for their services, so that’s a pretty significant chunk of change that you can either save or use towards other areas of the project.
Plus, some GC’s have their preferred vendors, so you’re limited to where you can order your materials. And sometimes there’s an additional markup built into the price on top of that. So you definitely don’t have as much flexibility in shopping around for the best deals.
#2: Do some of the work yourself
Don’t be afraid to pick up and swing a hammer. It doesn’t take any special skills to demo or paint, so doing some of the work yourself can really help save on labor costs.
Painting is an easy area to save on costs. I’ve always been shocked to hear how much painting estimates can be. Yes, it’s time consuming and labor intensive, but it really requires no special skill. And for me, it can actually be therapeutic. Put on some music, pour yourself a glass of wine, and you’d be surprised at how fast you knock out those walls. Or better yet, invite some friends over and have a painting party!
And if you’re up for a challenge, take on some DIY projects to refresh certain areas of your home without a full-on renovation.
#3: Time your project to take advantage of deals and holiday sales
It’s always a good idea to plan ahead, and if you can, try to time your renovation so that you can take advantage of deals and holiday sales. Remodeling your kitchen and getting all new appliances? There are always tons of great deals around the holidays.
One of our favorite tile shops, Porcelanosa, has an annual 40% off sale starting right after Thanksgiving every year. We love their tile, but it can be pretty pricey, so 40% off is definitely something worth planning around!
#4: Get multiple quotes
Always, always, ALWAYS get multiple quotes! You’d be surprised at how much the quotes from different contractors can vary. Plus, how would you know if you’re getting ripped off unless you had multiple quotes for comparison? Talking to various contractors is also a good way to vet them and educate yourself, so you choose the one that’s the best fit for your project. Plus, a little leverage doesn’t hurt either!
#5: Minimize layout changes
If you’re doing a complete kitchen or bathroom remodel and are planning to change the layout, try to minimize changes that would require reworking the plumbing, electrical or ductwork, which are labor intensive and can quickly add up in extra cost.
#6: Skip the designer
Getting a brand new kitchen? Even if you feel more comfortable leaving the design work to the pros, many cabinetry shops have their own design consultants that will work with you on a new design, for FREE! Want more creative control? Luckily, there are a variety of apps out there (like Home Design 3D, which offers both free and paid versions) that gives you the freedom to create your own dream design.
#7: Mix your finishes
Material costs can quickly add up, especially if you’re opting for higher-end finishes. Mix your high-end finishes with some more affordable options to save on material costs without sacrificing the overall look and style.
With these tips and proper planning, you can maximize your budget to get the most out of your remodeling project. A great resource for estimating home improvement projects is homewyse.com, which helps you calculate a wide variety of project costs with different filtering options such as your location, material costs, contractor skill level, etc. It’s a great way to see exactly where your budget is going, and what areas you can make adjustments in.