When you see the words “home renovation” what do you feel? Most people will first feel a bit of enthusiasm immediately followed by thinking that it’s too expensive. But maybe this sounds painfully familiar: You feel like your home is in desperate need of some remodelling work. You’ve done some patchwork here and there, yet every day when you come home from work, you look around, and you’re sick of it. There’s nothing chic. It all looks shabby.

Then you look at your bank account and change your mind. Maybe it’s not so bad. Next day you come back from work again, and it really is that bad. Most of us are afraid of the cost involved in a home renovation project, but it doesn’t have to be that difficult. Of course, if you’re planning to demolish your house and start from scratch, it will be, but if you’re patient and you don’t mind taking the time to shop around and do some DIY, you can give your home the upgrade it needs without breaking the bank.

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Make a Budget and Stick to It

You can’t have a budget-friendly renovation without first creating a budget because you won’t be able to keep costs down if you don’t have any idea how much it will cost. You can start by creating a spreadsheet with everything you want to do and everything you need to buy. In terms of labour, you’ll have to do some research online and perhaps contact some contractors to get an estimate.

Then you can start looking at flooring options, lighting, paint, tile, appliances, furniture and so on. Look up prices and write them down. You’ll also need to consider any other fees involved in the renovation project, like building permits or getting permission from your homeowner’s association. Once you add everything up, factor another 20% for unforeseen expenses. Next step is to look at the total and ask yourself if you can afford it. If not, refer to the following tip.

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Don’t Rush It

Even if nowadays you have more options in terms of financing such as looking for home renovation loans online, unless your home is falling apart and you need to act as quickly as possible, you should take the time and build up your savings.

Perhaps you already have the money in your bank account, so you’re eager to get started. It’s still better to take your time. Rushing into things can lead to poor design choices. We recommend that you start with no more than two rooms at a time and finishing them before you move on to other areas of your home. This makes sense from a budget standpoint because if you run into unexpected expenses, it will be much easier to allocate the amount from what you had planned for subsequent projects and simply delay those.

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Otherwise, you risk having to halt your entire project while you’re trying to take out another loan. During this time, you’ll have to live in a house full of unfinished rooms or move somewhere else temporarily, which will further strain your budget.

Choose the Right Contractors

You probably already know that you shouldn’t hire the first contractor you find to help you with your renovation project, but if you want to keep costs down, you’ll have to shop around quite a bit. You can always ask friends, family and neighbours for recommendations, but avoid hiring friends or friends of friends. You might be tempted because they’ll offer you a discount, but they might be terrible contractors, and you have to choose between letting them do work you know you’ll have to hire someone else to fix or jeopardize your relationship with them.

Any recommendations you receive, you should still look them up online and check their license, certification, financial standing, insurance and reviews. Once you’ve narrowed down the list, don’t rush the bidding process. You should request bids from at least three contractors and compare them. Once again, you might be tempted to make another mistake. Perhaps one of the contractors makes you a much better offer than the other. Don’t go for that one. It’s very likely that this is simply a strategy. They’ll bid low to get you to choose them, but they’ll add expenses once the project is started. Another possibility is that they’re hiring unskilled workers to bring down the cost.

A better way to save money on contractors is to hire them off-season. This can vary from region to region, but generally, contractors are very busy during summer, so you’ll either have trouble finding one or they’ll be harder to negotiate with.

Do It Yourself

One of the most obvious ways to save money on a home renovation is to roll up your sleeves and do some of the work yourself. How much of the work depends on your skills and level of confidence but keep in mind that some jobs like electrical work and plumbing should be left to the professionals.

Still, even if you’re not particularly handy, you can always check out some video tutorials and learn to do simpler jobs like demolition work (pulling up tile, removing cabinets and carpeting), painting, ordering and picking up fixtures and finishes. Remember that you pay contractors by the hour no matter how much skill a task requires.

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You might discover that you really enjoy the work, but you shouldn’t get ahead of yourself. Many enthusiastic and over-confident DIYers have ended up ruining expensive materials in their misguided attempts to save money.

Sell Anything You’re Not Using

First, we need to mention that you should try to reuse materials and furniture as much as possible since this will really help you bring down the cost. For example, in the kitchen, you could change the appliances but save some money by keeping the old cabinets and refacing or replacing the doors.

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With that being said, anything you’re not using anymore, such as the appliances you’re changing, you should try to sell. If your appliances are still in good condition, you can sell them on platforms like Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace. If not, you can still make some money by taking them to a scrapyard. You can also sell other pieces of furniture, hardware and doors. You’ll always find people who are also renovating and looking for ways to keep costs down.

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