Whether your budget is big or small, the cost of a home renovation can quickly get out of control! I’ve gone through two budget-friendly kitchen renovations in the past three years, so I wanted to share some tips that can help you achieve and manage a renovation that works for your home and budget. Check out our first shoestring-budget renovation we did at our old home, and then see what we did in our newer home with a bit more money.
Upgrade your standard water heater for a tankless model. Most old-fashioned water heaters keep 50 or so gallons of water hot, seven days a week, 24 hours a day, whether you use the water or not. Tankless water heaters heat only the water you need as you need it. Not only will they save you money now, but they're an eco-friendly and cost-effective update that today's homebuyers are looking for.
For most people, their home is their single largest investment, so treat it that way. Hire a financial planner to work out a strategy for protecting your investment by analyzing all of the financing options that are available. A financial whiz can tell you if you should refinance to lower your monthly payments or pull out some equity to pay for value-adding improvements.
One of a room's most neglected spaces, the ceiling, makes up one-sixth of a room's total area. Updating your home's ceilings will net a lot of bang for the buck while adding architectural interest. First, if you still have popcorn ceilings, hire a contractor to scrape them smooth. To add a sophisticated custom look to a smooth ceiling, install crown molding or box beams for a coffered look. Ceiling millwork, an attractive feature prevalent in older homes, is rarely found in newer construction. Adding small touches like these will help your home stand out from the pack.
Big projects or small, probably all of us could stand to learn some decent home repair or home improvement skills. (All around the home, there are things we should never have to pay others to fix for us.) Learn Bob Villa-worthy skills and help others at the same time by volunteering or through free clinics and other resources. Turn to great reading resources and try starter projects too. If you get stuck on a project, iOS app Fountain will connect you to a home improvement expert to answer your question for $5. (Also, did you know we have a home improvement subblog here at Lifehacker called Workshop?)
Remodelers can do some amazing things, but they can't read minds. "Let the company supervisor or project lead person know if anything is unsatisfactory so they can deal with the issue," says Jeff Hurst, a Certified Remodeler (CR) and president of Hurst Total Home, Inc., in Kettering, Ohio. "The contractor may not be aware that something is not OK with the owner."

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.

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