My husband and I purchased our home in 2009. It was built in 1975, and still had the original vanities, carpet in the bathroom (yuck!), non-working intercom system in most of the rooms, and some other fun relics.
Even though we were determined to do most of the work ourselves, we had several companies come out over the last three years to give quotes. What a surprise this was for us: $5,000 for a newly tiled shower and shower pan installation, $1200 for a cabinet and sink/plumbing hookup in the laundry room, $1,000 to replace the bricks in our firebox…and the list goes on.
We are fortunate we have time and motivation on our hands, and have shaved much of the cost off of each of the quotes. We achieved this by doing a lot of the work ourselves, calling on friends and family for help, and carefully researching different projects. While we have spent thousands of dollars over the last several years renovating our master bathroom, our guest bathroom, our laundry room, updating the kitchen and dining room, as well as painting several other rooms, we have paid for everything in cash and shaved many more thousands of dollars off of the cost.
I’d like to share with you how we saved money on our do it yourself (DIY) home renovations.
7 Ways to Save Money on DIY Home Renovations
- Source Materials from Other Locations: Home Depot and Lowe’s are not the only stores where you can purchase your supplies. Paul and I originally priced a new cabinet and vanity for the laundry room at a whopping $1200 from one of these stores. Instead, we purchased a gorgeous cast iron double sink from someone on Craigslist  for $80, and had someone else make us a custom vanity to fit the space for $500. While I have not been able to find something at the Habitat for Humanity Restore  specifically for our renovations, I was impressed with the materials you can source from there. Another source for materials is pre-demolition sales (do a search in Google for your area and see if you can find one). Basically before a home is demolished you can purchase just about anything from the property: fixtures, landscaping, bathtubs, banisters, doors, etc.
- Learn from Others: When my stepfather was visiting, he showed Paul how to hook up the faucet and plumbing for the laundry room sink. This not only saved us money, but it also taught Paul skills to use in other rooms of our renovation. Paul’s brother, who used to work in construction, came over for a day’s work and showed Paul how to tile our bathroom floors. One of the people who came to do the quote for the fireplace took pity upon Paul and told him that we actually did not need to have the bricks remortared; he showed him a product he could purchase from Lowe’s to fill in the gaps. Paul purchased this for around $20, and I purchased high-heat black spray paint. The fireplace is now in good shape and looks brand new on the inside (we did have the company install the chimney cap as this was important to us and our roof is very steep).
- Concentrate your Reward Points: We started to use all of our reward points for credit cards, Swagbucks , etc. towards gift cards for Home Depot and Lowe’s. We also took advantage of a Lowe’s deal a couple years ago where if you purchased a gift card for $1,000 you received a $100 gift card. (They often repeat similar deals, so be on the lookout for gift card deals). You can also earn 5% cash back this quarter  at Home Depot and home and garden stores.
- Use Scratch N’ Dent Stores: We have a Sears Scratch ‘N Dent store here in Houston where we bought our refrigerator at 50% off (there are two scratches at the bottom of the door). Many of the appliances in these stores still have a warranty on them. Here are 6 More Ways to Save Money on Appliances .
- Look into Alternative Materials: Many of us want stainless steel appliances, granite countertops, hardwood floors, and stone. But these materials cost a lot of money, and there are many alternatives that can save thousands of dollars. In our own home, I really wanted travertine tile for the bathrooms. But I did not want the cost of nearly $17 per tile (18’ X 18’). By shopping around, I found an alternative that was much cheaper and still had the beautiful look of travertine (and wasn’t glossy). It was a win-win situation!
- Update Instead of Replace: There was a great cabinet storage unit above the washer and dryer in the laundry room with rusty hinges and about 8 coats of paint. Paul and I sanded the paint down to the wood, lacquered it, and added new hardware. The makeover is just amazing! We have a wall of cabinets in the master bathroom that were very outdated. Instead of getting rid of this great storage space we painted it and replaced all of the hardware. It looks brand new! We did the same thing for the kitchen cabinets, and it has given them new life. We used the existing faucets in the master bathroom and guest bathroom. For the built-in cabinets and entertainment center in the living room we had a company make two custom doors to match the others for the area where the DVD and other electronics go ($80 well spent), and added hardware to the doors. Finally, I took the existing blinds in the kitchen window and made roman shades.
- Take Care of Your Tools and Materials: This one is important because you do not want to repurchase materials or tools to use on future renovation projects. For example, we cleaned out the paint pans, rollers, and some brushes after each job so that we could use them on the next job. We also organized our tools in the garage so that we would not repurchase items that we couldn’t find or didn’t know we had. Power tools are also one of the 7 Things You Should Be Buying Used .
Hopefully you can use these tips on your own projects. Also, please be sure to share your own tips on how you have saved money on home renovations! We can all learn from one another.
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- Bang-For-Your-Buck Home Renovations: What Pays Off and What Doesn’t 
- 6 Defects Our Detail-Oriented Home Inspector Missed 
- 20 Thrifty Decorating Tips 
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