Thursday, Sep 27, 2012

6 ways to save on DIY projects

People say it all the time: the way to save on a home improvement project is to do it yourself. This can be a scary prospect for many homeowners, because even when you know how to do a project there are many ways that things can go wrong. Still, completing a project doesn't have to be that stressful. Rather than worrying about what you can't do, think about what you can: namely, budgeting your money.

Before starting any project, you should know the best ways to use your cash flow, both by investing it in all the right places and by saving it in others. Here are just six of the many ways that you can save on home improvement projects, particularly when you’re doing them yourself.

1. Make a realistic budget - and stick to it.

When looking at the work ahead of you, put aside your money right away. Mid-project delays are time-consuming, money-eating and extremely inconvenient. Avoid them by collecting the money you'll need for the project, factoring in the cost of tools, hardware, time and other supplies.

To cushion for unexpected expenses, add a contingency of 10%. If you are doing a major home improvement, such as roof or plumbing replacement, then take your highest estimate and double it. But don't spend a penny more than is completely necessary - your conitngency money is only for unexpected problems.

2. Salvage materials from Internet sites and local ads.

Materials like wood, brick and extra paint can be found on sites like Craigslist or in the local Pennysaver, and for much cheaper than you would find them in a store. You can also check classified ads for discounts on used or surplus building materials. These are easy ways to save on prep costs.

3. Take advantage of warehouse discounts.

Home improvement and big-box stores are always having sales, so look for big discounts in paint, lumber, lighting and decor. Smaller boutique retailers like to convince people that their products are of higher quality, but this may not always be the case. Just look at the quality of the product itself, and do a little Internet research if you’re unsure. If you can get it at a big retailer, you're likely to save.

4. Work with family and friends.

Two hands are better than one, and four hands are definitely better than two. Whenever there's DIY involved, you want all the help and support that you can get. Don't be shy about recruiting the carpenters, plumbers and other handy people in your family. You can always offer your own expertise in return.

Another option is to split the project cost with people performing the same tasks. For example, outdoor landscaping, wood chipping or big fence remodels can be pricey, but if your neighbours are interested in doing something similar this season, consider going in together to pay for the supplies. Time and money saved is never a bad thing.

5. Refurbish rather than replace.

A lot of times, making a project out of something old is the cheapest way to go. Rather than trashing your stuff and replacing it, give it a nice makeover; you'll feel much more accomplished, and save some money, too. Consider painting old cabinets, refinishing hardwood floors or adding new hardware to older doors and window. Each move provides a fresh look and saves you a bundle compared to a major overhaul.

6. Know when to hire a professional.

Nothing hurts more than getting most of the way through a project, and your budget, only to realize that something has gone wrong - horribly wrong. Not only have you wasted your cash supply, but you've also spent countless hours working, only to have to front more cash for a professional to do it.

If there is a project that is over your head, whether it involves intricate electrical work or internal plumbing, don’t be afraid to reach out to someone who makes a living doing just that. If you're really gung-ho about doing it yourself, then look into free how-to classes at home improvement stores. Don't risk making something worse before making it better.

The bottom line

A budget can make or break your home repair scenario. And really, the last thing you want to think about when you’re making your home a better place to live is the money. To avoid any dramatic setbacks, and to make your dollar do the most for you, follow our six simple tips. When all is said and done, you’ll have a great remodel and a fuller wallet to show for it.

Renovation archive

What do you think is a reasonable price for a kitchen renovation?
$10, 000
$25, 000
$50, 000
$100, 000