5 No-Regrets Ways to Safely Skimp on a Home Remodel

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Renovating your home can be a daunting task. Whether you're refinishing the floors or gutting the entire house, it can be difficult to know where to save and what to splurge on without any regrets. Sometimes it's best to get advice from those going through the process, and who better to ask than architects renovating their own homes? I asked a few architects I know — here are their five favorite no-regrets ways to skimp on a remodel.

1. Have the subcontractor create a list of materials that you can buy over the weekend or whenever works for your schedule. That way the subcontractor doesn’t bill you for their time of procurement, and it puts you in charge of finding the cheapest/best deal with materials, fixtures, etc.
2. We saved a lot by getting materials at steep discounts. Some of these were because of friends/trade connections, but anyone can save with some planning. If you know you are going to be remodeling down the road, keep your eye out for sales on big-ticket items including appliances, cabinets, fixtures, etc. It helps if you have some space to store such items if you're not going to be doing the work right away, but beware of return policies if this is the case.
3. Draw your own project drawings in a drafting or 3D modeling program. This is the ultimate way to learn by doing and see how your drawings impact your own budget. You can use your plans and models to figure out countless takeoffs with accuracy that can save you a TON in the long run. For instance, if you are making your own cabinets, draw all the pieces you might need and map them out on actual 4s8 sheets to figure out the least amount of material you need to buy. Do the same for drywall and running trim. On projects that are planned and thought out, I am always amazed at how little scrap I have in the end vs. when I try to ballpark it in my head. Of course, the downside is you don’t leave yourself much room for “oopsies,” but that aspect always helps me focus more on doing the job right the first time. You can get very accurate takeoffs using this technique and save yourself from overspending.
4. Be your own GC, as in, hire sub contractors rather than a general contractor for a relatively small project. You’ll get more straightforward pricing and the subs will generally stay within their estimate, whereas a GC may inflate the numbers with their profit and overhead. However, this also means that you will be in charge of supervision, which may mean you will need to take time off of work to oversee construction, sign for deliveries, etc.
5. This may seem obvious, but do as much work yourself as possible. Everything from performing the demolition and installing appliances, to the easy stuff like painting, installing cabinet hardware and adjustable shelves, electrical cover plates, lighting trims, surface fixtures, etc. These items may not make a huge dent in the overall budget, but if you are a cost-conscious homeowner every little bit helps.

Special thanks to Dru, Jason, Myriam, Nate, and Rob!

(Image credits: Claire Moyle/Apartment Therapy)

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