Planning a home renovation has one essential rule above all else: getting on a budget and sticking to it. Still, that’s one of the hardest things to do and most people tend to fail on this task. This article and the tips to stick to saving money I’m bringing you will help solve that problem and make you an expert on how to budget!

“There is no influence like the influence of habit. - Gilbert Parker

Plan ahead

Plan every single detail to avoid surprises.
Plan every single detail to avoid surprises. Source: The Family Handyman

For each and every home project, the first thing you need to do is plan. I write this every single time in every article with tips about home renovations, and I will keep on doing so because it’s just that necessary! Especially if you ever asked yourself “how do I keep myself on a budget?, you need to know this is the answer: plan everything!

Research everything in advance, for example:

  • Materials
  • Fixtures
  • Appliances
  • Contractor’s quote

Not only the contractor’s quote, but if you’re hiring more services, like an architect, a decorator, a plumber...whatever the service you’ll need for the home remodel needs to be written down on your renovation budget tracker! Your whole house renovation cost will definitely be higher and go over the budget if you don’t have every decision made beforehand.

Doing this step will allow you to know how much you should expect to be spending on the whole project and it’ll give you space to decide where to save and where to splurge - it’s great to know this right from the start because it’ll make it easier getting on a budget and sticking to it.

Clean up yourself

Cleaning after a construction is not easy, think about it.
Cleaning after a construction is not easy, think about it. Source: Amanda Katherine

Most companies offer the cleaning service along with the remodeling project as a closed package and with some discount. However, if you want to save some money, you can opt for doing the cleaning yourself. Just know that it’ll be a LOT of cleaning, and remember that construction dust is not an easy thing to deal with, so if you decide to clean up yourself, be prepared because it won’t be easy.

Sometimes it’s worth saving in other things and getting the cleaning service included. Think about what’s worth more for you!

Reface cabinets

Give your cabinets a new look with some paint and new hardware.
Give your cabinets a new look with some paint and new hardware. Source: Juniper Home

Instead of replacing every cabinet in your home, check if they’re still working okay. Because if they are, you don’t need replacing, you just need refacing. Giving your existing cabinets a new look will be a lot cheaper than getting new ones. Here are a few ideas on how to reface the cabinets:

  • Give them a new coat of paint
  • Apply veneer to the surface
  • Replace knobs and pulls

Don’t move plumbing fixtures

Try not to mess with the plumbing fixtures.
Try not to mess with the plumbing fixtures. Source: realhomes

It’ll all depend on what type of project you’re doing in your home, sometimes it’s essential to have plumbing fixtures moved around. However, if that’s not a requirement, you should definitely avoid moving things like your sink, toilets and shower since that will save you a lot on labor and materials.

It’s a simple budget hack you should consider with caution, talk to your contractor about the remodeling plan to know if these plumbing services will be necessary.

Makeshift kitchen

Set up a corner to use as kitchen while yours is under remodel.
Set up a corner to use as kitchen while yours is under remodel. Source: bobvila

Instead of going out for every meal during your kitchen renovation, set up an improvised place where you can have a dedicated surface to use basic stuff like the microwave, coffee maker and fridge. This will save you more money than you can imagine. You can even get help from your contractor to do this setting up, take the opportunity to offer them a cup of coffee while they take a break from all the hard work. I’m sure they’ll be happy to help you.

Careful with DIY

Be careful with DIY when you don't know what you're doing.
Be careful with DIY when you don’t know what you’re doing. Source: City of Creative Dreams

Doing things yourself is definitely the best way to save money during home renovations, but they’re mostly not worth it. Want to know why? It’s pretty simple: the quality of the service won’t be the same (unless you’re a professional yourself), and you take the chance of doing things wrong and having to pay extra to get it right with a professional service afterwards.

Of course, you can DIY simpler things, like maybe a painting project, but depending on the service, it’s best to just admit you need help and hire a pro - especially for electrical and plumbing work.

Contingency fund

15 to 20 percent of your total budget should be added for a contingency fund.
15 to 20 percent of your total budget should be added for a contingency fund. Source: City of Creative Dreams

For each and every project, there are always unexpected things that will happen. It’s just a matter of when and how it will happen, but there’s no doubt, it’s there just waiting for its moment. So if you’re now learning how to budget, know that you ALWAYS need to have a contingency fund included - and that should be about 20% of your total cost.

You need to be realistic with your finances, 20% may seem like a lot, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. What ends up back in your pocket after the renovation is done is an excellent bonus. But at first, you want to avoid going over the budget and being all stressed out because you don’t have money to finish your remodel.

Allow space to splurge, but be careful

Your kitchen backsplash deserves a splurge.
Your kitchen backsplash deserves a splurge. Source: The Family Handyman

The decision of where to splurge and where to save should be on your initial planning (as I mentioned here before). Still, I felt the need to add a topic about this because I wanted to give you some tips of where to save and where to spend.

For example, this is where you can save some bucks:

  • Cabinetry
  • Tiles
  • Light fixtures
  • Hardware replacement

And these are some ideas of where to splurge without any fear:

  • The kitchen backsplash
  • Quality paint
  • Home security
  • Heated bathroom floors

Remember to consider these ideas carefully according to your needs! That being said, there’s something you should never think twice if you need to spend a little more money than you thought you would, and that’s a trusted, quality contract. Which brings us to the next topic:

Hire wisely

Yes, let me say this again: don’t think twice about hiring a quality service for a little more money than expected because an expert is definitely worth it. And how can you know you’re hiring a trusted professional? There are some rules to follow, like:

  • Asking for a license, credentials, and references
  • Communicate clearly about what you want and ask for previous experience with that type of project
  • Ask if they are willing to sign a contract with a guarantee clause

Of course, there are more things to consider before closing a deal, but these are some of the most important things to keep in mind!

If you are ready to get started with your home renovation plans, check out a local professional and get a free quote for your renovation budget tracker!

Join the conversation