Planning a major renovation sometimes leads to sticker shock: The average kitchen remodel costs nearly $57,000, while a bathroom renovation runs nearly $17,000 on average.
Don’t let those numbers put a damper on your design dreams. It’s possible to cut costs on a remodel without cutting corners. With some strategic design decisions and creativity in sourcing materials, taking small steps along the way can add up to significant savings. Try these tips to lower your remodeling expenses.
1. Make decisions early
Researching material, fixture and appliance costs early in the process can avoid headaches in the long run. Failing to specify up front what you want means you have to rely on your contractor’s estimate, or allowance. Advance research gives you the opportunity to decide early where to save and where to splurge. A change order can balloon your budget with labor costs and create project delays.
Cost of change order: Difference in item price and time lost to project delays
Cost to plan ahead: Zero
Saved: Up to thousands
2. DIY demo
It’s back-breaking work, but doing your own demolition can save about a day’s worth of labor and hauling charges for a single room, even more for larger areas. If you’ve never demolished anything before, it may be better to leave it to a pro who can best prevent any electrical, plumbing or structural disasters.
Cost for a pro: $1,000
Cost to DIY: Sweat equity plus $400 for dumpster rental
3. Clean up yourself
Rather than racking up labor fees while your contractor sweeps up every day, put your money into other aspects of your project, like installing tile or painting. Not all companies let customers do cleanup for liability reasons, so check with your contractor before building this option into your budget.
Cost for construction crew to clean up: $200 per day
Cost to DIY: Zero
Saved: About 3 percent of the job cost
4. Search for salvage and substitutions
Many alternatives to high-end materials offer a similar quality at a lower price point. You may also get lucky and find enough recycled or lightly used fixtures at your local salvage shop or Habitat for Humanity ReStore, which offers secondhand materials sometimes at more than half off home center prices.
Cost of new marble vanity top: $400
Cost of salvaged substitute: $50
5. Reface cabinets
Before ripping out your cabinets, see if refacing makes sense. If you like your room’s layout and your cabinets are in good condition, updating the doors and painting or applying a veneer to the boxes can save 40 to 50 percent over the cost of replacement.
Cost to reface: $100 to $150 per door and drawer
Cost to replace: $150 to $200 per linear square foot
Saved: Up to $100 per linear square foot
6. Don’t move plumbing fixtures
If you can avoid moving sinks, toilets and shower plumbing in your renovation plans, you save on labor and material costs.
Cost to move: $1,000+
Cost to leave in location: Zero
7. Use wall-mounted lights
Between the cost of the fixtures and the labor to cut the holes and install insulation, recessed light expenses add up quickly. Ceiling- and wall-mounted lights deliver more wattage, so you may not need as many, providing additional savings.
Cost to install four recessed lights: $800 ($200 each, includes fixtures and labor)
Cost to install one surface-mounted light of equal wattage: $400 (includes fixture and labor)
8. Set up a makeshift kitchen
What to do when a kitchen renovation leaves you without access to a dedicated cooking area? With help from your contractor, set up a makeshift prep surface, microwave, coffeemaker and fridge to use while your kitchen is out of service.
Cost of daily takeout and coffee: $50+
Saved: $1,000 for a three-week kitchen remodel
By Amanda Bell, Angie’s List (TNS). Amanda Bell is a reporter for Angie’s List, a trusted provider of local consumer reviews and an online marketplace of services from top-rated providers.