If you are considering a home remodeling project, whether a large addition or a small bathroom remodel, the cost is probably your biggest deterrent from actual getting started. The cost of renovating your home has never been more expensive and the short supply and high demand for skilled workers in the building trades has been the biggest factor. As the availability of skilled workers steadily declines, the cost of all types of construction will continue to increase.
Despite this fact, it is still possible to get your project completed without dipping into the kids college fund. In order to do this however, you will need to learn a few tricks of the trade to help you along the way.
Here are 10 things that you can do to save money on your next remodeling project.
- Be your own GC understand that this is not for everyone, but check my previous article http://www.remodelradio.com/advice-for-homeowners-dont-hire-me/ on being your own GC and see if you are up to the task.
- Buy your own materials Not every contractor you work with will agree to this and I am certainly one of them, but there are many contractors out there that would actually prefer to go this route.. The exception here is if you have a contractor that does not mark up his materials, in which case it wouldn’t make sense. I have a plumber for example, that only charges me his cost on anything he buys, so there is simply no need to for me to ever step into that role.
- Do your own design I realize this may sound overwhelming and out of reach for many people as you may have no idea how to do this but, it can be done. Many architects and designers charge very high fees to do work that can be outsourced for much less. Sites such as Upwork of Fiverr are marketplaces where you can find hundreds of highly skilled drafters and designers that can do your design work at a fraction of the cost. There is definitely some hand holding involved, but if you are patient, then you may be able to save some serious dough.
- Do the demo You have all watched the home shows where homeowners get all geared up and work with the host, to demo their kitchen or bathroom. This work, unless it involves structural elements, can be done by most anyone. It just takes time, muscle and the willingness to get dirty. The added benefit is that you will actually learn how your house is put together and gain a new level of understanding into the whole process.
- Economy of scale Many homeowners think, that if they do their projects in stages, they will be able to control the job better and also save money. There may be some truth regarding control, but the saving money part is a myth. By combining all the projects you want done into one scope of work, will make the job more attractive to more contractors and the subs. I don’t want to come to your home and just remodel 1 bathroom, it’s simply not worth my time and for those contractors that will take the job, they will charge you more to make up for the hassle of the small job.
- Hire a small firm When choosing between general contractors, you will find that they all come in different sizes. Everything from the large company with dozens of employees to the guy with a van. Depending on your needs, the guy with the van may be your best bet in both terms of value and skill. This guy is usually best suited for smaller jobs like the single bathroom remodel or building your new deck. The larger firms are better a better fit for projects that utilize their size more effectively.
- Buy the box stores Home Depot and Lowes can be a great resource for saving money on your project, the key is not to buy the junk. Take plumbing fixtures for example. You may not find 15 different Kohler toilets to choose from, but the ones they do have, will be priced right. Locate the quality manufacturers that have products in the box stores and choose from those.
- Holiday pricing Most contractors and builders are busy year round. But if there is a slow season, it would be around the holidays and new year. Reach out to contractors around this time and you may find some savings as they may be hungry for more work.
- Pay the subs directly This is a hybrid form of being your own GC. Find a builder that will run the job, but will allow you to pay his subs directly. This allows you to pay their cost without any builder’s margin. Now most builders would never allow this, but some smaller and more inexperienced ones will be OK with this arrangement.
- T & M Time and material can be a great way to save money, yet it can also come back and bite you in the ass so beware. Be sure, that if you choose this route, you have complete trust and confidence in the contractor. Most guys will not take advantage of this arrangement, but there are contractors out there, that given the opportunity, will milk the job and squeeze you for more time and money than is actually required.
What advice do you have to homeowners that are trying to save money on their remodeling projects? Please continue the discussion and add your comments or questions below.