How to Save on Home Improvements

Written By Jeff Hindenach
Last updated December 1, 2020

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Money Saving Tips
June 26, 2015

Simple. Thrifty. Living.

Your home represents both a significant financial investment and a place that provides happiness and comfort. That’s why home improvement is necessary: both to make your home more appealing and to ensure it retains its value. Here are some tips to save big money on home improvement.

Often, brick walls, exposed wooden beams and wood floors can have a worn, aged look that simply needs updating. Refurbishment projects are a lot cheaper than tearing out and replacing these features. Consider supplementing rather than building from scratch, and you should see significant savings. If you need help tracking down an expert to help you refurbish, check out sites like Angie’s List or HomeAdvisor, which offer reviews of local home improvement pros.

Often home renovation is an incremental process that means tackling small problems to make big improvements over time. Avoid taking out home equity loans, credit card debt or second mortgages when making these improvements, or you’ll pay high interest rates for years to come. Sometimes credit or loans are necessary for really large projects, but cash is always your best option.

Doing a home improvement project yourself is often the cheaper option. Although some projects such as significant plumbing work, installing hardwood floors, repairing siding and complicated electrical work often require specialized tools and expertise, many projects can be performed DIY-style one weekend at a time. Invest in a few essential tools, learn about handiwork and create a work schedule that allows you to repair and renovate on your own. The savings can make a real difference.

Often, building upward is a lot cheaper than building outward from your property. This is because making a new foundation is an expensive process. Also, consider working with the space you have inside your home. For example, a new kid might mean you need an extra room. Instead of a costly addition, consider splitting a larger room in half.

Plumbing is always expensive. If you want to add a new floor to your house, consider whether it’s a good idea to add an extra bathroom as well. If you want to redo your kitchen, think about keeping your sink where it is. Otherwise, your costs can quickly double. The same goes for electrical work: If you can add to existing electrical wiring instead of installing a new electrical system, you’ll avoid headaches in terms of time and costs.

Sometimes you need to use a contractor for a larger project. Before you choose one, check references, examine whether each contractor is licensed, look at examples of previous work and get price quotes from multiple contractors. While smaller operators may be cheaper than larger ones, scrutinize smaller contractors, or you might get poor-quality work. Sites like Angie’s List and HomeAdvisor offer reviews of local home improvement services that can help you do background research.

About the Author

Jeff Hindenach

Jeff Hindenach is the co-founder of Simple. Thrifty. Living. He graduated from Bowling Green State University with a Bachelor's Degree in Journalism. He has a long history of financial journalism, with a background writing for newspapers such as the San Jose Mercury News and San Francisco Examiner, as well as writing on personal finance for The Huffington Post, New York Times, Business Insider, CNBC, Newsday and The Street. He believes in giving readers the tools they need to get out of debt.

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