Cool Ideas

Six Ways to Save on Home Improvement

There’s a reason people call their homes money pits. Whether it’s upgrades or basic upkeep, home ownership can sometimes be a huge drain on your savings. Here are a few ideas to help make your money pit—well, if not a money mountain, at least not as deep.

Do your research and get free advice.
Some homeowners are so proud of their own trials and tribulations that they blog about different home improvement projects—whether it’s a French drain you need to dig, an entire chimney you need to remove or a wasp nest you must destroy—someone out there has been through it before you, and you can learn from them via their own YouTube videos and blogs. Of course, take amateur online advice with a grain of salt. Some good YouTube channels are Ask The Builder, Dover Projects and This Old House.

Do it yourself.
Maybe you can’t drywall and paint and install windows in your new room but you can probably do the demolition yourself! Go ahead and get the worksite ready for when the pros show up. You’ll save and they’ll be glad to have that out of the way.

Well, sometimes you can’t do it all yourself.
Sometimes you have to hire it done. But who you choose will make a huge impact on your project and your pocketbook. You can use a service like Angie’s List to read reviews from other homeowners for contractors, or ask your friends and neighbors for referrals. You can also smart small and hire a contractor to do a small job before giving them a big project. The best thing you can do to save when hiring a contractor is to shop around. Get more than one quote—in writing. Be patient, and get all the references and quotes you need.

Buy your own supplies.
Contractors sometimes mark up the prices they pay for materials. So buy the supplies yourself or locate a contractor who always provides receipts.

Use salvaged materials.
You can help others and save by checking out Habitat for Humanity’s ReStores. Also, they may take your old but still serviceable cabinets, fixtures, appliances—and save you the cost of having them hauled away. CraigsList and Freecycle are also good sources. You’re recycling, and saving money!

Schedule work in the winter.
Your contractor will be much more likely to cut you a deal when business is slow. Whatever the time of year, ask if he has a gap in his schedule that he wants to fill and you could get a slightly better rate.