Remodeling on a Budget

When buying a home, wouldn’t it be nice to find one that had everything you wanted and required absolutely no work? Unfortunately, those homes rarely exist. That is why so many homeowners remodel. With encouragement from advertisements and home decorating magazines, it is easy to go crazy and spend tens of thousands of dollars. Some people spend so much money that they can no longer afford their homes. However, remodeling your house does not have to break the bank.

Determine what you can afford to spend
The most important part of any remodeling project is knowing what you can afford to spend. Remodeling should allow you to enjoy your house more, not cause headaches over bills you cannot pay. If you are paying for your remodeling with savings, the amount you have saved will limit what you can spend, but if you are paying for your remodeling by borrowing, it is easier to get in trouble. What a lender will give you and what you can afford to repay are not necessarily the same thing, so make sure to look at your finances to see what you can actually handle. Unless the house is in desperate need of repair, you should be able to delay projects if you cannot afford to do everything you want to do right now.

A little bit goes a long way
Projects like moving walls, gutting and re-doing kitchens or baths, and building additions can be costly, and you won’t necessarily get much of a return on your investment when you sell your house. Simple things, like repainting walls and replacing outdated blinds and fixtures, can make your home look significantly better without having to spend a ton of money. You may want to start small before deciding if you will embark on big projects.

Skip the stainless steel and professional appliances
There is nothing wrong with purchasing stainless steel appliances if you like the look and have the money, but if you are on a budget, purchasing black or white appliances instead is a good way to save. Stainless steel appliances commonly cost hundreds of dollars more than the exact same models in other colors. Professional appliances can have features that regular appliances do not have, such as increased size and power, but they usually cost significantly more too. Before you shell out the money for the eight burner stove with a griddle and refrigerator with digital temperature control and a wine rack, think if you can do with simpler, cheaper appliances.

Refinish or reface instead of replace your cabinets
Dated cabinets are a common feature of older homes. While brand new mahogany or walnut cabinets could make your kitchen look nicer, ripping out the old cabinets and putting in new ones can be expensive and time-consuming. However, for the cost of a can of paint and some new knobs, old cabinets can get a fresh look. Besides painting, another option is to reface the cabinets, which involves replacing the doors or veneering all visible surfaces, but leaving the existing frame. This costs more than painting cabinets but usually less than replacing them completely.

Use cheaper materials
Using the cheapest possible materials defeats the purpose of remodeling, but that does not mean you need to put in the most expensive ones. Materials such as granite slabs and hardwood floors are appealing to many, but they can be budget busters. On the other hand, options like granite tiles and laminate wood flooring can provide a nice look at a fraction of the price.

Do the work yourself
If you do work yourself, you will only have to pay for materials, not labor. Laying your own flooring or doing your own demolition could save you thousands of dollars. There are countless books and websites available with helpful information for do-it-yourselfers. However, a wise remodeler knows when to call in the professionals, especially when the remodeling involves highly specialized work, such as plumbing and electrical changes. If you do not know what you are doing, it could cost you more money to have professionals fix your mistakes than to just have them do the work from the beginning.

Magazines may showcase kitchen remodels done for $60,000, but you do not need to spend that much to make your house nicer. Updates can be done for a few thousand dollars, or even less. By being a money-savvy remodeler, you will be able to have a house you can enjoy without needing to worry about paying mounting debt.

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