With high lumber and material costs, lots of homeowners are looking for ways to decrease their project budget to make up for spending more upfront. 

However, it can be hard to know which pieces of your renovation project you want to make more cost-effective.

In this article, we’ll provide you with some tips on how to save. Just remember, every little thing adds up. 

It may not seem like much at the moment, but the extras you include here and there will impact your project’s budget in the end. Most homeowners end up going over budget unexpectedly, so it’s important to try to save money where you can.

Read on to discover some money-saving tips, and some ways to revise your project if your quote gets too expensive.

Manufactured Stone vs. Natural Stone

While you might be wanting to use natural stone in your home renovation, you could consider using manufactured synthetic stone instead. This will give your renovation a similar look at a fraction of the cost. 

Because the installation of manufactured stone is somewhat easier than natural stone, the labor costs will be a bit lower. 

This is true for both flooring and countertops. For example, granite costs much more than laminate per square foot, but you can shop around to find laminate that is designed to look like granite.

Photo credit: usenaturalstone.org

You can see that the laminate option looks quite similar, even if it’s not an exact match. According to Marble.com, laminate countertops cost roughly $20 to $50 per square foot, whereas granite countertops cost roughly $32 to $75 per square foot. 

If you’re creating a countertop area that’s 30 square feet (an average size), this difference becomes more drastic. The laminate will be anywhere from $600 to $1500, and the granite will be anywhere from $960 to $2250. 

Using manufactured stone is a great way to cut your budget. 

Refurbishing vs. Replacing

You can also save money by refinishing your current units, rather than replacing them entirely. Color and paint alone can dramatically change a room, and painting is a lot easier and more cost-effective than fully replacing things. 

For example, you can transform kitchen cabinetry with new paint rather than new materials altogether. 

Photo credit: helixpainting.com

As you can see, these homeowners redid their floors and backsplash as well - but didn’t fully replace their cabinets, they just added a coat of white paint.

The average total cost to paint cabinets, according to Homeserve, is $2,100. Installing new wood cabinets costs anywhere from $6,000 to $12,000 on average, according to Cabinetnow

You can save $4,000 alone just with this small change!

Stock vs. Custom

In some situations, you may need - or just really want - custom windows and doors. But in a lot of cases, you can save by buying stock windows and doors. 

Choosing the manufacturer’s off-the-shelf dimensions will be much less expensive than opting for custom fabrication and installation. 

Even if you can just pick certain windows and doors off the shelf and customize the rest, this can still save some money.

Photo credit: bigjimsnh.com

For just one window, a fixed stock size will cost anywhere from $150-$1,200. However, a custom window will cost anywhere from $500 - $13,000+. 

At minimum you’re saving around $400 dollars, and for multiple windows, that will add up.

Additions vs. Reorganizing

Before adding an addition or rebuilding storage space like cabinets and shelves, it’s important to do a deep clean and get rid of anything you don’t use. 

After getting rid of things, you might find that you don’t need that extra storage space. 

Similarly, reorganizing can create the same effect. Loading your current cabinets with labeled bins, using under-bed storage, and putting up cheap shelves can decrease the need for more expensive renovations. 

You can also think about equipping your kitchen for maximum utility and efficiency. For example, adding pullout inserts to existing cabinets. 

Recycled and Lightly Used Materials

Not only is reusing materials good for the environment, it’s good for your bank account too. 

You can save big when buying recycled or lightly used fixtures and building materials. 

However, it’s important to keep your contractor or builder involved in this decision making. Some contractors won’t work with salvaged materials because of the liability if something goes wrong.

To start, stop by a local Habitat for Humanity ReStore to see which materials they have available. 

Another option is donation. You can donate old items and building materials, which will save the cost of paying someone to remove your items. 

One way to do this is inviting the local Habitat for Humanity to pick up your old items for later resale. 

Avoid Moving Plumbing, If You Can Help It

We know that lots of major remodeling projects require moving the plumbing, and sometimes that just can’t be changed. 

But - if you’re desperate to cut costs, we recommend that you avoid moving the kitchen sink or any toilets, as it will require you to move plumbing lines. 

Sure, you can upgrade these appliances, but just consider keeping them in the same location so the interior plumbing work can stay put. 

If your new layout requires these units to be moved, you can save some money by taking the opportunity to upgrade your pipes at the same time. 

Smart Home Upgrades

While some homeowners need all the latest smart home tech, if you’re not that keen on it, it might make sense to skip it in favor of portable technology. You can save big if you ignore the hard-wired tech upgrades. 

And in general, owners and future buyers may get easily overwhelmed by smart home systems if they aren’t super tech-savvy themselves. 

For example, there is some value in having more than one way to turn on the lights, rather than relying on your technology. Smart home technology can be glitchy and more complicated than necessary.

Plus, portable speakers are easier to replace and less expensive than hard-wiring in-wall speakers. 

Lastly, technology becomes outdated rather quickly. 

The latest innovation may get introduced to the market while you are still investing time and money in your current smart home system. 

Check the Internet Often

Prices are constantly changing, and the difference in just a month or two could drastically impact your renovation cost. 

Keep an eye on online retailers to see if prices drop on the items you are interested in. You may also want to see if you can price match what you find online to a local store. 

You could also use a price tracker app or website to track prices as they fluctuate. Even just reading the news about lumber and materials prices can be helpful, as overall trends do trickle down to the consumer level.

Consider Your Contractors

It is certainly not advisable to ever skimp on contractors, and we would never recommend that (in fact it could cost you a lot more money if you have to go back later and correct their mistakes.) You want to rely on quality contractors and quality craftsmanship. 

But we still have several tips for keeping the cost of your contractors within budget:

  • Don’t schedule contractors in the height of summer, when kids are going back to school, or over Christmas. Suppliers tend to be busier during this time, and some contractors may actually offer a discount during less busy times of the year. 
  • To reduce the number of hours your contractors will need to put in, see if you can do a light prep item yourself, such as discarding old carpeting or picking up materials. This will save some time off the bill. We don’t suggest trying to DIY anything that takes a high level of skill, though.
  • Schedule regular time to time with your contractor and ensure items are arriving on time. Do research in advance to make sure you aren’t picking items and materials that are out of stock. You could wind up costing yourself some extra time and money if you aren’t properly organized.

Find a Lender