Do you want to renovate your space but need help with the cost? Taking on a renovation project can be challenging and expensive. Fortunately, there are ways to renovate on a budget.
As real estate investors for over 23 years, we’ve been through a renovation project or two!
Here are 12 tips, from personal experience, for creating a renovation project with a tight budget.
Table of Contents
Define your goals
Renovating any space can be challenging, but having clear goals is the key to a successful project. Whether increasing storage capacity or utilizing unused spaces, setting realistic goals can provide focus and clarity throughout the process.
Here are some examples of goals to consider when planning a home renovation:
- Increase your comfort or enjoyment of the home
- Fix any safety issues
- Improve the value of the home
- Upgrade the function of the home
- Create a positive first impression
- Make necessary repairs and improvements
- Increase resale value
- Stay within budget
- Stick to your timeline
- Choose quality materials and finishes
Decide how much flexibility you have with each goal. For example, sometimes a goal is to be within a $2000 budget, but you are ok with $2500. Other times going $1 over that budget is a deal breaker. Figure out in advance whether the goals have flexibility or not.
Before starting, take a comprehensive look at the overall project and determine what you hope to achieve.
Renovations require thoughtful planning to ensure that the project goes smoothly. Therefore, consider the project’s scope and determine whether you can break it down into phases to accomplish a larger goal. After you have defined your goals, you can start to plan.
Start by creating a comprehensive overview of what you must do, then work through each task step-by-step. After setting a timeline, it’s important to make sure you have enough materials and tools, enough helpers (if needed), and, if necessary, permits from the local government.
Planning and organizing your renovation project ahead of time can go a long way toward making sure it goes well and you’re happy with the result.
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Set a Budget
If you’re renovating a space on a tight budget, the most critical step is to set specific spending limits for every aspect of the project. Doing so may ensure that you don’t exceed your budget. It also allows you to identify necessary expenses and appropriate adequate cash.
Setting a realistic budget for renovations can go a long way toward making completing a project more financially manageable.
The most important thing we have learned doing 100s of renovations is you need to have an “unknown” line item in your budget. No matter how big or small the renovation, there are always surprises. We tend to add a 20% buffer for surprises.
Get Creative With Financing
There are a few options to consider, including loans, lines of credit, and credit cards. Each has pros and cons, so it’s essential to research and determines which option is best for you.
For example, a loan may be a good option if you need a large amount of money and can afford to make regular payments over time.
A line of credit may be a better choice if you need flexibility in how much you borrow and when you repay it. At the same time, using credit cards can be a quick and easy way to finance your renovation, but it’s important to be aware of interest rates and fees.
Sometimes online personal loans like CreditNinja can be great options if you need a fast online loan.
The most important thing to consider if borrowing for a renovation is if the renovation is really worth taking on debt. We took out many different types of loans to buy and renovate homes in our first decade as landlords. But for us, it was an investment.
Be careful borrowing money for things you want but do not need.
Whichever option you choose, shop around and compare offers before deciding.
Use Recycled or Salvaged Materials
Using recycled or salvaged materials in your renovation project is a great way to add character to your space while saving money. From reclaimed wood flooring and countertops to vintage fixtures such as lighting fixtures, recycled or salvaged materials can be a budget-friendly option that adds undeniable charm.
Reused materials often have sentimental value and can add a one-of-a-kind touch to your space. Best of all, repurposing used materials instead of buying new ones can help reduce the environmental burden resulting from the disposal of non-biodegradable materials.
So consider visiting reuse centers, antique markets, salvage yards, and resale shops in your area to find unexpected treasures to use in your renovation.
Do-it-yourself projects can be a rewarding way to save money on labor costs. Doing as much of the work as possible is a terrific approach to completing the task without having to pay for expensive services from pros.
Renovating your home doesn’t have to break the bank. Here are some great ideas for DIY home renovation projects that won’t blow your budget:
- Replace Old Outlet Covers – A simple and inexpensive way to update the look of any room is to replace old outlet covers for around $50.
- Paint Your Own Room – Save money by tackling a painting project yourself. Buying your own supplies like paint, wall covers, and tools can cost anywhere from $30-$200 depending on the scope of the project.
- Paint Your Cabinets – A fresh coat of paint can make a world of difference and costs as little as $20 or more.
- Faux Shiplap Backsplash with Peel ‘n Stick Flooring – For just $65, you can give your kitchen an updated look with this easy-to-install project.
- DIY Your Old Bathroom Cabinets – With materials costing around $200-$600, you can give your bathroom cabinets a facelift without spending too much.
- Easy DIY Wallpaper Accent Wall – Create a stunning accent wall in any room for around $10-$20, depending on material and scope.
- Install Vinyl Plank Flooring – Transform the look of any room with easy-to-install vinyl plank flooring for around $100-$300, depending on size and scope.
- Peel & Stick Tiles for Floors – Another great option for transforming your floors quickly and easily is peel & stick tiles, which can cost between $20-$150 depending on number of tiles and type of tile chosen.
- Update Your Light Fixtures – Swapping out old light fixtures for new ones is an easy way to update the look of any room and costs between $20-$50 in the low end.
- Install New Hardware – Installing new hardware, such as drawer pulls and knobs, is inexpensive to upgrade furniture pieces like dressers and cabinets, costing around $75-$100 per piece.
- Refresh Your Front Door – Give your front door a makeover by painting it or adding new hardware for around $200-$300, depending on material and scope.
- Create Wall Art with Peel ‘n Stick Decals – For just a few dollars, you can give any room in your house an elevated feel with easy-to-install wall decals and wallpaper.
- Install New Countertops or Tile Backsplash – Installing a new countertop or tiling a backsplash is another relatively inexpensive way to spruce up the look of your kitchen for around $200-$800 depending on material and scope.
- Replace Old Vent Covers – Another quick and easy renovation project is replacing old vent covers with stylish new ones for under $50 per piece.
You can do almost any project independently with some knowledge, essential tools and materials, and lots of patience.
Shop Around For Deals
When you have a renovation project, shopping around and finding the best deals on materials and supplies is essential. Looking outside traditional sources like home improvement stores or big box retailers can help save you money.
Checking online classifieds, yard sales, thrift stores, and clearance sections can be a great way to find high-quality items at a fraction of the standard cost. So ensure you do some savvy shopping and leverage good deals to save big on your renovation project without sacrificing quality.
Focus on High-Impact Areas
Taking a renovation project one step at a time can be prudent. However, it is essential to remember to focus on the high-impact areas during the renovation process.
For example, kitchens, bathrooms, and flooring can make a big impact on your home’s looks and feel. Therefore, consider prioritizing these areas as you begin your renovation journey.
From selecting cabinets and countertops to updating paint colors and finishes, putting extra effort into these areas can transform the renovation project from ho-hum to genuinely remarkable.
Take on Small Projects
The best way to go about your renovation is by breaking it down into smaller, more manageable projects that you can tackle over time.
Once you have defined and located your high-impact areas, divide them into smaller tasks. This can make the process easier and help you track your progress and budget.
Tackling smaller projects also allows you to learn new skills and techniques that you can use for future projects. This way, you can gradually build your home exactly what you want it to be without feeling too overwhelmed.
Repurposing items around the house should become a new way of life. Each item takes on an entirely new enterprise and spurs you to get creative.
With just a few tools, creative vision, and elbow grease, the possibilities for repurposing items are endless. For example, you can create custom shelving out of reclaimed wood that adorns any wall or gives new life to an old dresser by converting it into a bathroom vanity.
You can enjoy these unique creations for years with a little repurposing effort!
Borrow Tools and Equipment
If you’re planning a home (or commercial) renovation project and must outfit your workspace, don’t be afraid to call reinforcements. Ask trusted friends or family members if they have any tools or equipment you could borrow for the duration of your project.
This is a great way to save money, especially if the project only requires a few specialized items that would be expensive if purchased outright.
Moreover, you can even turn it into an opportunity for quality time – bring a friend along to help out and make the most of their presence. Just make sure they get them back in one piece after the project.
Home renovations can be costly, but you don’t have to break the bank to make your spaces look great. Staying creative with what you already have is an excellent way to save money while still making a design statement.
If a standard solution doesn’t work, find unconventional ways to overcome your renovation challenges.
Get creative with home improvements, from upcycling wooden furniture and repurposing old doors into dividers to adding your artistic touch with paint or wallpaper. After all, the most unique and beautiful designs are often unexpected!
Starting a renovation project doesn’t have to be expensive and stressful. With these twelve tips, it can be an exciting and rewarding process – especially when you look back on the new space and realize you did it all yourself!
It’s essential to get informed before undertaking any project, develop feasible goals, and familiarize yourself with the most common techniques to stay within your budget.
Prioritizing what you need to do first is essential so that you can tackle the project’s more inexpensive parts first. This may help ease the financial pressure associated with such an undertaking.
Remember to have patience when DIY-ing, and don’t expect perfection from yourself or your project. Lastly, celebrate all the hard work of creating something beautiful out of a beat-up space.
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Greg is a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) with 22+ years experience in Financial Services. He has held numerous FINRA Securities licenses (series 7, 63, 65, and 66), and is an expert on Investment Products and Financial Planning. Greg has 22+ years experience as a real estate investor and degrees in Psychology and Philosophy.
Greg has been quoted/interviewed in Yahoo Money, Yahoo Finance, USA Today, Authority Magazine, Realtor.com, Business Insider, and others.
Greg is an avid runner, and the father to identical twin girls and their awesome brother. His love of budgeting and his kids led him to join The Great Resignation in 2021.
Disclaimer: Any Financial Tips on ChaChingQueen are general and informational. Speak with a professional about your specific situation.