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How to Remodel on a Budget

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Remodeling a room in your home can be costly, but you can learn to remodel on a budget. Our beloved farmhouse is over 125 years old, and suffice to say we have plenty of remodeling to do on this home.

The remodel budget, however, is on hold until we get our debt paid off, or at least paid down substantially. There are days when I long to remodel our home now, but with a super-high debt load, that wouldn’t be a smart choice.

I got a taste, however, of “be careful what you wish for” last month when our washer, due to a malfunction, flooded our laundry room: twice. We knew that we had to get a new washer and dryer (which was also in bad shape) and we figured we’d have to do at least some remodeling of the room for repair purposes due to the water damage. The old owners had carpet in the laundry room as flooring, and despite our best repair efforts, the carpet was trashed due to the water damage it had sustained. When we pulled up the carpet we found more trouble: rotted floor boards and moldy sheet rock beneath the trim moulding. This setback in debt payoff was tough to deal with, but sickness due to mold exposure would have been much more costly in several ways, so we chose to remodel the laundry room. Here’s how we did it on the cheap.

Remodel on a Budget

First, we determined what absolutely needed to be done, and then we resolved to finding quality but inexpensive replacement items where possible.

Second, we started shopping. Luckily, only part of the floorboard was rotted, so we measured and cut out the rotted part, and only bought what we needed in terms of plywood to replace it. After Rick cut out the molded part of the sheet rock, he calculated that it would be cheaper and easier to replace the sheet rock with plywood. No one would ever see it because it sits behind the trim, so we were okay with going that route.

The trim moulding was also moldy and would need to be replaced, but instead of opting for the pre-cut trim and moulding, Rick got basic 1×4 pine boards and beveled them himself, cutting our trim price down substantially. Thankfully, during the week we did our detective work and shopping, flooring was on sale, so we chose a medium-quality linoleum vinyl flooring that we paid 30% less for thanks to the sale at the home improvement store. We also managed to find a quality brand super basic washer and dryer set on clearance that day, so we quickly made the purchase and loaded them into the pickup. We kept a frugal mindset the entire time, weighing what needed to be done vs. what was the cheapest way to get a quality result.

DIY to Save Big Money

Third, Rick chose to do all of the work himself. He’d never laid linoleum before, nor had he repaired sheet rock, so he studied online forums and Youtube videos to get the opinions and advice of seasoned remodeling pros. Rick wasn’t necessarily comfortable with doing all of this himself, but if you’re going to remodel on a budget, doing it yourself is a key money-saver. He also painted the room himself, using a can of paint we already had that was slated to be used for another room.

*A note: if you’re doing a bigger remodel job that involves plumbing, electrical or the addition of a room, for instance, make sure to check with your city’s inspector.  Bigger remodel jobs often need city permits and inspections.

When all was said and done (and after a week without a washer and dryer. Boy, did I learn to appreciate modern appliances real quick that week. 🙂 ) we did the entire remodel, including the purchase of the washer and dryer, the flooring, the sheet rock replacement, the trim moulding, the sub floor and all of the “little” extras we needed in terms of tools and supplies, for the not-too-expensive price of $1156.83.

We hadn’t planned on remodeling this room right now, but it feels good knowing we did it frugally. With a little detective work, ingenuity and sweat equity, you really can remodel on a budget.

 

What did your last remodel cost? What are your best tips for remodeling or redecorating on a budget? Do you usually try to fix things on your own, or call in some help?

 

 

Photo courtesy of: Armchair Builder

 

 

*This post was featured on Money Smart Guides, The Investing Monk and Financial Nerd.

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Laurie is a wife, mother to 4, and homesteader who blogs about personal finance, self-sufficiency and life in general over at The Frugal Farmer. Part witty, part introspective and part silly, her goal in blogging is to help others find their way to financial freedom, and to a simpler, more peaceful life

20 comments

  1. Only few people are able to remodel on a budget and frugally. I agree with you that research and strategy are contributory factors to making a part of our house remodelled with no regrets. Some people tend to pay more like hiring someone to make it look better. For my case, I know how to do carpentering so that one cuts some expenses.

  2. Great post, Laurie! I’m all for DIY to save money. Since I have rental property, I have a team of people from every different area to do the work I need or the remodeling. I usually help them to save money and since they are all friends and I provide them with work all the time, their prices are great! I always learn from them when we do projects so I can do them in the future.

  3. We just finished our basement and hubby and his dad did it themselves. We went slightly over budget, but I am hoping with some returns still to be made we can make it under budget when all is said and done. The basement was not a priority project for us; however, we knew we needed my father in law to be able to DIY it in under a year, so we wanted to do it while he was still capable of helping and let me tell you, there were times I thought it would kill my 72 year old father in law. Anywho, the final result is amazing, cost a quarter of what it would for a professional to do it and increased our home value, so we are happy.

  4. This post is an excellent example of what can be done now days with YouTube! My boyfriend is redoing everything almost all by himself (except for a few friends here and there). YouTube and Home Depot are his new bffs. It’s amazing how much you can really get done yourself with a little instruction.

  5. I’m a horrible DIYer. Wes and I plan on working on this though. Our main thing is that we lack patience to actually complete a whole task.

  6. I would strongly encourage anyone who has never tried to remodel anything to give it a shot. It’s not as hard as you think, and it will save you a TON of money over the long run. I was surprised at how cheap and easy it was to put new counters and floors in our bathrooms. Thank you YOUTUBE!

  7. There isn’t too much DIY with an apartment rental but when we moved in this summer DH installed ceiling fans and put up curtain rods and a whole bunch of other little things that a lot of people would hire someone to do. He also is big on watching how-to’s on Youtube when it comes to addressing minor problems with the car. All this does save us from spending unnecessarily which is great.

  8. My brother did most of his home remodeling with my help and the help of my dad. He saved thousands of dollars doing things himself. The only thing he didn’t do himself was the electric because that’s a little scary, but other than that he did everything himself. The one thing you need to know is your town’s/state’s code. You have to make sure everything is done correctly because the inspector will make you tear it down if it’s not done right. Just read up on the codes and if you’re not sure ask around for help.

  9. Good tips, Laurie, I didn’t imagine that you can remodel without spending too much! The last time we made a change in our house was only repainted our rooms. It didn’t cost us too much because I got some coupons for the paints.

  10. These are some great tips. I find that no matter what changes I make to a room, I always find myself going over budget.

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