Obviously, this is one of the most effective ways to save money during a home renovation. If you’re thinking, “I’m not handy, so this tip’s not for me,” well, think again! You may not be able to put up drywall, or even feel comfortable laying tile, but there are some things you can do to prep your space before a crew comes, because remember you’re paying a crew per hour, regardless of how skilled or unskilled the task. If you can demo the space, clean up, prepare surfaces (like scraping off mastic on the floor and skim-coating walls), and paint, then you’re one step ahead.
Whether you decide to hire a general contractor or individual subcontractors for the job, it’s important to find the right team to complete your home renovation. While word-of-mouth recommendations from friends might be enough for some, you may also consider doing a full-blown check on your contractor—looking into their license, certificate of insurance, lien history, bond number, and certification—to ensure you’re dealing with a professional who is in good financial standing. Equally important is finding a contractor you get along with and who understands your vision, so it can be helpful to have an interview or preliminary discussion before the formal engagement of services.
Home renovations have been some of the most exciting, but also most trying times in my life. My biggest advice is to just know yourself and what you’re cut out for, and don’t get in over your head, budget-wise. No beautiful home is worth the anxiety that comes along with consumer debt! If you have the extra money, it’s worth saving yourself the stress and hiring out the work, as long as you found someone good and trustworthy—otherwise it may equal even more stress! Sometimes homebuilding also equates to character building, and I’m talking about personal growth here, not investment growth. But the two aren’t mutually exclusive.
There has yet to be a home renovation that has been silky smooth, without a single snag or snafu, so be prepared for days when things just aren't going right. It’s natural to want everything to go perfectly according to plan, but with so many products and people involved, it’s unlikely that everything will turn out exactly how you imagined, which can be frustrating and sometimes even costly.
Another area not to skimp on would be windows, doors, and insulation. Our last home had no insulation in the exterior walls, which is crazy considering Northeast Ohio’s climate! Literally the day we moved in, we drilled holes in the wall between every stud and blew in insulation with a blower we rented for the weekend. It cost us a bit up front, and patching the walls was a pain, but I know we made that money back in just one Ohio winter.