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Renovating on a Budget

Renovating on a Budget

by Chris Petry

If you took a peek at a new homeowner’s search history, you’d likely find key terms like, “Home
renovations on a budget,” “How much does it cost on average to do A, B, C,” or “Cheap hacks to fix blah, blah, blah…” New homeowner or not, it’s safe to say that anyone who’s has taken a
trip to their local Lowes or Home Depot as of late, has had to pick their jaw up off the floor
when faced with the monumental price increases of everything from lumber to plumbing and
even the snack size can of Pringles you have to have while standing in line for the self-checkout. “I can store nails or something in the can afterward,” you tell yourself. Yeah, sure...
So, is renovating on a budget even possible these days? Well, yes. After all, a budget is going to vary from person to person. Even in a general sense, there are decisions you can make to cut corners and save cash without compromising the quality or safety of your project.

If you can do it, save money by foregoing professional installation. If you’ve always wanted to
learn how to install a wall outlet, fix a sink trap, tile a mudroom, or replace the crumbling
drywall in the den, there are pages of YouTube videos explaining how to do just that. Also, if
you visit the website of your favorite hardware or big box store and search for some of the
materials needed to complete your project, you can occasionally find installation tutorials right
on the product page.

Bargain Shop
You’ve elected to tackle the project yourself but the cost of the available materials has you
burying your head into a tear-soaked pillow and screaming, “Why me? Whyyyyyyyyyyy?” Fret
not. Just because the last million-dollar home you visited featured imported Italian marble tiles
in the entryway doesn’t mean you have to or need to spend that much money. Measure the
length and width of the room and multiple those numbers together. That gives you the square
footage. See how much square footage each box of hardwood, vinyl, or laminate you intend to
buy is supposed to cover. If a box covers 14 sq ft and you have 144 sq ft to cover, you’ll need
just 10.2 boxes. So, buy 11. No, buy 12. You see, you should always buy 1 more additional box
than accounted for to cover your mistakes. Don’t fall prey to brand names. You can afford what
you can afford. Minimum grade underlayment is the minimum grade, which is to say it will
work just fine! It’s perfectly acceptable and will keep you in under budget. The last thing you
want to do is spend double what you paid for your flooring to lay it. Most vinyl and laminate
plank flooring requires nothing more than a circular saw, pencil, straight edge, rubber hammer,
and a small block of wood to bump and lock the pieces together. Don’t buy a fancy kit because
Chip and Joanna put their faces on it. Oh, and don’t forget to check Craigslist or Facebook
Marketplace for deals on materials someone else is trying to unload for much less than they
probably paid for it.

Defer to the Experts
You know who I’m talking about. Put that old guy or gal to work. Mine’s pushing 80 and just
spent the last 3 days cutting copper pipe, loading plywood into a Lowes rental truck, and
maneuvering drywall in an 8x7 bathroom. You can consult someone with a fancy schmancy
certificate that allows them to charge you $50 an hour to point a flashlight or you can ask
someone you know and trust if they’ll take payment in cheeseburgers or beer. Look, there are
times where you should absolutely hire an expert but that comes with a cost. Ask someone
older, wiser, or more experienced than you how to install a new lighting fixture before you shell
out a house payment for the privilege of playing trivia games on your phone while someone
else does it and you learn nothing.

If you’re a new homeowner, the thought of becoming your own maintenance person, roofer,
plumber, electrician, and landscaper can be a little distressing. Just think of the memories you’ll
make as your sister shows you how to wallpaper while you’re on an 8-foot ladder with its legs
centimeters from the top of the stairs. Priceless.