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Six Ways to Save When Renovating Your Home

Whether it’s about time or down the line, home renovations can create a pricey puzzle for even the savviest savers.

From kitchens and cabinets to the halls and walls of your house, it can be difficult to know where to spend and where to save when it comes to budgeting your home improvement projects.

But you don’t have to sacrifice your dreams to save on renovation costs. With some strategic thinking around design, materials, and timing, you can cut costs without cutting corners. Here are six ways to save on your next home renovation.

1. Plan Your Expenses…

Before you take any steps toward your renovation, start by creating a detailed budget for everything.

Each room makes up a percentage of your overall house value. According to The Family Handyman, you should spend no more on each room than that percentage. For example, a kitchen generally accounts for up to 15 percent of the property value. That means if your home is worth $200,000, you’ll want to spend no more than $30,000 on your kitchen remodel.

A helpful budgeting tip from Forbes Home: remember to factor in the cost of dining expenses if your kitchen is out of commission for a few days. You may even want to budget for a hotel for a few nights, depending on the extent of your project.

Once you have an idea of costs, set aside 10% to 20% of the budget for unexpected fixes and circumstances. From there, prioritize your list of renovation projects and use the remaining budget to allocate toward that list.

2. …And How You’ll Pay for Them

While using cash is a great goal to pay for these projects, it’s not always possible. When you don’t have large amounts of liquidity at your fingertips, consider financing options to help manage necessary costs.

One smart approach is using your home’s equity to help fund home improvement projects. With ESL Home Equity Solutions, your house can pay you back when you extract value from it — starting with either a Home Equity Loan or Home Equity Line of Credit. Learn the difference here.

3. Prioritize Your Lighting Needs

Good lighting can make all the difference in a home, from interior design to utility costs. That’s why you should assess your lighting needs at the very beginning of your remodel.

If you’ll need all new lighting, The Family Handyman suggests limiting your recessed light fixtures. During a remodel, they can cost more to install because they’re more labor intensive. Instead, look for opportunities to incorporate natural light into your home wherever you can. By allowing sunlight into rooms where incandescent lighting used to be, you can save on your electricity bill.

If new windows are a bit out of the price range, try light tubes or skylights. According to The Family Handyman, these are a great — and more cost-effective — option if they’re installed properly. If not, you might find yourself dealing with moisture problems down the line. Just make sure to find yourself a good contractor, and they can assess your home to help you decide which spaces work best with this lower-cost option.

4. Make Your Walls Work for You...

Before you start ripping through walls and tearing down doorways, take a second to think about what you’ve already got. Forbes Home says sometimes a fresh coat of paint can save you from blowing your budget on a more expensive grand plan.

A simple switch in color can help a room feel bigger and brighter, or the opposite. And don’t forget, paint can transform your whole home. Consider refreshing cabinets, doors, and ceilings, too.

Not a pro? No worries. Painting is a relatively cheap endeavor, and a careful amateur will have no problem pulling it off with a little research.

5. …Or Do Your Own Demolition

Sometimes you have no choice but to demo the space. If it looks like repair costs will exceed replacement costs, The Family Handyman recommends you tear that wall down.

When demolition is necessary, consider doing it yourself. And that applies to more than walls — even a beginner can do their own demolition on a deck or remove kitchen cabinets and countertops.

According to Forbes Home, doing your own demo can save you the hefty labor costs that a contractor would have charged you for the same work. Just make sure to do it safely and wear the proper protection; only take on projects you’re comfortable doing.

6. Focus on What Matters

Despite your best budgeting efforts, some costs are inevitable. So when it comes to big changes, prioritize what needs to be done first and foremost. Consider your family’s growing needs or the stage of life you’re about to enter before doing anything too elaborate.

And above all, consider renovations that will add resale value to your home. In the mid-Atlantic region, which includes New York state, the following renovations recoup the most resale value for the dollars spent (according to Zonda’s 2023 Cost vs. Value Report):

  • HVAC conversion/electrification
  • Garage door replacement
  • Manufactured stone veneer
  • Entry door replacement with steel

Putting your dollars toward projects like these can help you get better returns when it does come time to sell your house. Until then, mindful budgeting and wise financing options like ESL Home Equity Solutions can help you manage the expenses needed to get your home in top shape. With these strategies in mind, you can make your home work for you in more ways than one.