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Excerpted from an article by Daniel Bortz for realtor.com

“…Remodeling can be a huge undertaking – and a costly one at that.  The average kitchen remodel will set you back $60,000, a bathroom overhaul, $17,908.  But plenty of home renovations can fall way under that if you know some tricks to keep your home improvement budget in check….


  1. Don’t do a complete remodel.  Unless the room needs to be completely gutted, you can cut costs by refurbishing existing fixtures.  When renovating the kitchen, staining the current cabinetry, replacing old drawer handles and knobs, and refacing moldings can save you thousands of dollars.  In fact, refinishing existing cabinets can save you up to 50% compared with the cost of buying new cabinetry, according to Angie’s List.  You can also cut costs by purchasing materials (e.g. granite, flooring, lighting) yourself.
  2. Pick decent, midgrade materials.  One area where you’ll find a major price difference from premium options is carpeting.  While basic olefin and polyester carpeting costs around $1-$2 per square foot, wool can run upward of  $9-$11 per share foot – and these costs add up if you’re re-carpeting a large room or an entire floor.  Another biggie is countertops…granite costs $60-$100 per sq.ft., while laminate (Formica) looks like granite for $10 – $40 per sq.ft.
  3. Do prep work yourself.  To reduce the hours your contractor will need to put in – and save $$ on labor, do light prep work yourself. By removing and discarding old carpeting on your own, for example, you’ll shave time off the installer’s bill, because many companies charge an additional $4 per yard to remove old carpet.
  4. Go DIY, but know your limits.  DIY is a good move for small projects, like painting, where work is fairly simple. Also, the materials you’ll need, including paint, brushes, sandpaper and tape, cost only $100 to $200 (professional painters charge $25 – $100 per hour.)  With larger projects, however, especially if you lack handy skills, you’ll most likely want to hire a professional to do the work – it’ll cost more, but it’s worth it.  The last thing you want to do is cheap out and need to pay a second contractor to redo the work.
  5. Shop around for the best (and budget-friendly) contractor.  A home remodeling project is only as good as whom you hire.  It’s crucial to find a reliable contractor who will quote you a fair price and deliver high quality work.  You’ll need to meet with at least three contractors and get in- person bids, which will give you a good idea of the price range and a sense of whether you’d be comfortable working with the person.  When vetting contractors, pay attention to small details, like whether they show up on time for the appointment.  Punctuality indicates whether the person is well-organized, which can affect how much you’ll have to pay for labor.  If a contractor has a habit of running behind schedule, that might affect how long the project will take to complete – and how many hours of labor you’ll need to pay for.  The adage “time is money” can be painfully true when contractors are involved, so you want someone who takes your time seriously.
  6. Another money-saving safety measure:  Insist on seeing all renovation estimates in writing, and get a cap on the hours if possible.  Meanwhile, a punch list can ensure the renovation isn’t officially done until you’re satisfied.  Any contractor who isn’t willing to provide this par-for-the-course paperwork may not be worth the trouble, because it protects you both in case any part of your renovation goes off the rails.”

SOURCE:  Daniel Bortz for realtor.com   IMAGE:  domain.com.au

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