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How to Save on a Remodel

How to Save on a Remodel

white farmhouse kitchen with wood floor and wood barstools with tips to save on a remodel

Figuring out creative ways to save on a remodel budget is a definite must. Remodeling has never been cheap or easy, but…yikes. Things are much more challenging now than they were a few years ago. Tackling projects that involve products or labor is not for the faint of heart.

However, this is also a great time to be creative and figure out a way to get it done for less. I think you’re up to the challenge. Here are a few tips.

Alyson Dorr homestead tufted sofa
Design doesn't have to be "more is more" to be elegant and classy. This Montana farmhouse homestead is a great example. Photograph by Jeremiah and Rachel photography.

Tip #1: Skimp

The main question is which categories to skimp on. There are three main parts to get right in a renovation: design, finishes and labor. It’s not hard to see how skimping on any of these could lead to disaster, but there are ways to save on a remodel and keep your budget from getting out of control. 

Skimp on design if:

  • You know exactly where you want everything
  • You already love your home's layout
  • You know exactly what finishes you need to get the look you want

Don’t skimp on design if:

  • You need help figuring out a functional layout
  • You are investing a lot of money in labor or finishes
  • You don’t know what you want or how how to get the right look
DIY renovations
This builder-grade home in California has received tactful updates to create a custom look and feel. Photograph by Chad Mellon.

Skimp on labor if:

  • You have DIY skills
  • You have someone to help you who has construction skills
  • You want to learn how to DIY it (like tiling a backsplash, for example)

Don’t skimp on labor if:

  • You are doing anything structural or that involves licensed tradespeople or an architect
  • You expect perfection
  • Your project needs things done right in order to not cost even more money (for example, if you're worried about cracking a marble countertop while installing it)
modern farmhouse kitchen with blue island
The original basic kitchen in this boho farmhouse underwent a transformation, but the homeowners tried to work with what they had when possible, in order to save on a remodel. “We had a painter refinish the cabinets,” homeowner Kacie says. “They were an off-white with a yellow/brown glaze, and we wanted them to look more modern and streamlined.” Photograph by Rebekah Westover.

Skimp on finishes if:

  • You have existing finishes you can reuse, like cabinetry, tubs, etc.
  • You like shopping for salvaged materials and can find good used items
  • It’s easy to replace them (for example, a bathroom faucet or cabinet hardware)

Don’t skimp on finishes if: 

  • You plan to stay in your house
  • The finishes are not easy to change and/or require a remodel (for example: don’t splurge on countertops for low-quality cabinets, because you will probably waste the countertop changing out the cabinets if they fall apart. That will not save on a remodel budget long-term.)
  • The product is probably not going to hold up to the use you intend it for
Minnesota mudroom
Dark tiling contrasts with the white paint and wood accents in the mudroom of this luxurious lakeside farmhouse. The elegant light fixtures add a touch of luxury, while bits of greenery add color and freshness. Photograph by Landmark & Minneapolis Photography.

Tip #2: Adjust Your Expectations

This is a difficult time to do a renovation because of all the product shortages, delays and labor issues. It used to be possible to complete a small renovation according to an exact schedule, but that’s no longer the case. Now, the process is much longer and more frustrating, which makes it difficult to save on a renovation. But it’s not that bad if you expect this ahead of time. Learn to expect problems and be thankful when anything goes right. 

Iowa fixer-upper living room
This living room renovation was a DIY project by the homeowner. If you're willing to take more time to get the look you want, you can save on a renovation budget by doing part of it yourself. Photograph by Kerry Bern.

Tip #3 Be Nice to People

Renovations are so messy that you'll find yourself needing a lot of favors. If you’re doing a renovation, you’re at the mercy of a lot of people. There are likely going to be multiple workers on your job, businesses you deal with (countertop people, cabinet people, shipping people, warranty people, store sales reps, etc.), the local permit office, angry neighbors...and the list goes on.

Things happen outside of everyone’s control, and things are going to slip through the cracks that technically should’ve been done but are no one’s job. If you’re nice to work with, you’ll find people willing to help you out, which in the long run will help you save on a renovation.

If you’re not so nice, well, you’ll be at the bottom of everyone’s list and they’ll all be talking about how much better things would be going for you if you weren’t so un-nice. Plus, they won't be willing to get things done quickly or efficiently for you.

living room decorative display
This living room in Georgia received an update with new built-in cabinets for a custom feel. Photograph by Jaki Hawthorne.

Tip #4 Be Flexible

Sometimes the best design decisions were accidents. If things don’t go how you were hoping, and you find that your light fixture is backordered forever and you have to find a new one, just go with it. The best interiors are full of happy accidents, which can also help you save on a renovation. It’s okay if things don’t go as planned, and often, they end up much better.

Looking to do your own renovation? Find out if you need to hire a designer, builder, architect or all three. Of course, don’t forget to follow us on InstagramFacebook and Pinterest to get your daily dose of farmhouse inspiration!

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