Home updates can cost a lot money—which can often be prohibitive, especially with inflation and the recent increase in contractor costs. Worse, many home updates aren’t optional. You simply have to fix that broken window, for instance, or you need to remodel that 1980s kitchen if you’re a seller who wants to appeal to potential buyers. But if you don’t have the required cash lying around, what can you do about it?
Fortunately, we know a few tips for saving money when it comes to home improvement.
Repair, Don’t Replace
You can frequently save money by repairing instead of replacing. Often, replacements are inferior products. Windows are the classic example of this counterintuitive phenomenon. Repairing a wood window and installing storms is much cheaper than installing brand-new vinyl windows—and the vinyl windows will only have a 25-year lifespan at most! Wood windows, on the other hand, regularly last 100+ years.
Explore Financing Options
Home improvement loans, home equity loans, and HELOC are all ways you can finance a home improvement project. Always check with someone you trust who works with finances or mortgages before you go down this path, though. If you don’t have such a person yet, here are the mortgage lenders we recommend. We’d also be happy to share our own insights and experience.
You can check for grant programs in you area, as well. Some areas have facade programs for century homes, for instance, which will pay for 50 percent of masonry, painting, and window work. These grant programs won’t cover everything, but they can bring an “impossible” price down to something manageable.
Get Multiple Quotes
Shop around when it comes to contractors. Rates can easily vary 25–50% depending on who you talk to, but remember: the cheapest quote isn’t always the best. Read reviews, get a feel for the contractor and their work, and don’t feel pressured to commit too early. If you don’t know where to start, we have list of contractors who we recommend.
Do It Yourself
DIY saves money but costs time—in essence, you’re trading the latter for the former. Sometimes, it’s a great trade, but know that DIY will take longer than hiring a professional, and you’ll need to buy the right tools and materials yourself. If you study up on YouTube, avoid overly complicated and/or dangerous tasks, and don’t cut any corners, you can update your home and keep your wallet relatively intact.
These tips can easily knock thousands of dollars off your home improvement price tag. Regardless of how you go about updating your home, we have one last piece of advice: Prioritize the project you’re working on right now. You can’t afford to do everything at once—not necessarily in regard to money, but in regard to your time, mental health, and availability for scheduling contractors. Trying to compress home projects too much is a quick way to end up burnt out, but if you take your time, it can be a fun, rewarding journey.