In this article: Plan | Find Deals | Organize | Remodeling by Room | The Bottom Line
A home remodel can cost tens of thousands of dollars, but you can take smart steps to complete the job on a budget. Consider the following tips from our Home Media reviews team to maximize savings while creating the home you’ve always wanted.
Steps to a Budget Remodel
Planning a remodel on a budget is all about setting a clear plan and staying organized. Follow the steps below to get started.
Step 1: Plan
Start by figuring out your budget for the remodel. Determine your project’s scope and what supplies you’ll need, as well as which parts you’ll do yourself versus which ones you’ll need to hire a professional to do.
Establish a Budget
Review your bank account and decide how much you can comfortably spend on your remodel. If needed, make a plan to save for the next few months before starting the project.
List Your Must-have Items
Once you have a budget, you can make wise choices about each component of your remodel. Research the costs of each component you want to change. For a bathroom remodel, this might include the wall paint, a new or upgraded vanity, new or updated flooring, and a new bathtub.
If you value one change over another — say, a luxury bathtub is a higher priority than new flooring — you can allot your budget accordingly and choose a higher grade bathtub and less expensive tile.
It’s also important to account for surprise costs. If you’re swapping out the sink but discover a plumbing issue, you may need to spend more than initially planned to correct the problem. As you add up the costs of your must-haves and nice-to-haves, reserve a portion of your budget for unexpected expenses.
Decide on DIY vs. Professionals
Weigh the pros and cons of hiring a professional versus completing tasks yourself. Some tasks — such as painting the kitchen cabinets — may be well within your abilities, but rewiring electricity or changing plumbing is likely better left to the professionals.
DIY can save on labor costs (as long as you have your own time to invest in the project), but you can also make costly mistakes if you tackle more complex projects that typically require expert training. A flood in the downstairs living room from a DIY plumbing error is going to be more costly than hiring a plumber to do the job in the first place.
Step 2: Find Deals and Alternatives
A remodel doesn’t require you to replace everything in the room, and you don’t need to purchase all new or full-price appliances and supplies. Looking for deals and alternatives to replace items can help you save.
Shop for appliance deals by looking at a warehouse or asking retailers for a discount on floor models.
Shop Directly From the Warehouse
Instead of buying appliances and cabinets from a retail store, you can often go directly to a warehouse. You can also ask to look at any returned or damaged items; you may not care about a small cosmetic defect if it means a reduced price. Another option is to ask a retail salesperson if they have any floor display items for sale; you can often score a discount on the stove or refrigerator that was on display.
Don’t Replace All Your Appliances
One of the most expensive parts of a remodel can be new appliances. Instead of replacing your appliances, consider investing in a home warranty that will cover the appliances you already have.
Look for Secondhand or Lightly Used Materials
Furniture can be a great option to find secondhand if you’re working on a DIY remodel. For example, you may be able to refinish ugly cabinets for a lot less than it would take to purchase them new. Other people in your area may also be selling supplies or tools you need at a low price if they’ve completed a similar project or are moving. You can check out garage sales, Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, Nextdoor and similar options to find deals.
Step 3: Organize Your Space
A remodeling project can lead to some chaos in your home. Planning ahead will keep your life a little more organized during the project and help you avoid losing supplies. Additionally, you can donate or sell unused supplies and the appliances or fixtures you’re removing.
Sell or Donate Materials
Trash removal for appliances and large fixtures can come with a pickup fee, depending on your location. If you sell or donate old working appliances or items such as cabinets, you can usually request that the purchaser pick them up to save on the cost of disposal. For example, Habitat for Humanity typically picks up large donations at no cost.
Establish a Debris Disposal Solution
Depending on the size of your remodel, renting a dumpster may be more cost-effective than frequent trips to the city dump. You’ll also save on potential fines from leaving items for curbside pickup that aren’t allowed. Dumpsters often rent at a flat rate with removal included in the quoted price.
Set Up Temporary Spaces
If you’re remodeling your kitchen and won’t have access to your stove and refrigerator for a few weeks (or longer), set up a temporary space elsewhere in your home. As long as you have refrigeration and a microwave, you can still make some food at home instead of eating out or ordering takeout every night while your kitchen is unusable.
Items for Each Room
The size, finish level, scope and services you use will affect your remodel cost. Finish level refers to whether you have budget or luxury materials and finishes, and scope refers to how much you’re planning to do (update cosmetic items, replace appliances and fixtures, or gut the room to rewire and move plumbing).
Here’s a breakdown of the items that will have the biggest impact on your budget in each room.
Does your kitchen need a cosmetic or functional remodel? If you hate your kitchen, think about what exactly needs to change. Is it ugly and outdated, or do the appliances not work and you want to change the location of a counter?
Less-expensive fixes may include updating the aesthetics of your kitchen:
- Add a DIY backsplash
- Change the faucet
- Hang different window curtains
- Refinish or paint cabinets
- Repaint the walls
- Swap doorknobs and cabinet pulls
If those smaller changes don’t complete the remodel, try to save on larger changes with our tips above for deals:
Your budget will help you determine your project’s scope, but you can look for sales, deals and secondhand options on any of the supplies and fixtures you need.
Like the kitchen, you can choose the scope of your bathroom remodel based on your budget. A cosmetic remodel will give you a fresh-looking bathroom without the costs of major changes:
- Add new faucets and showerheads
- Install a new mirror over the vanity
- Paint or wallpaper the walls
- Refinish the cabinets
- Replace hardware, such as doorknobs and cabinet pulls
- Update light fixtures and bulbs
If you’re doing a larger remodel, such as replacing a shower with a tub, follow our tips above for finding deals on supplies and fixtures:
- Sinks and vanity
Again, your remodel needs to match your budget. Replacing appliances and fixtures in their current location is much less expensive than rewiring electricity or redoing plumbing to move them.
Living Areas Remodel
Living areas are a great space to remodel on a budget since you don’t have many (if any) appliances to upgrade or replace. Here are a few inexpensive fixes to consider:
- Paint the walls
- Redecorate with new throw pillows or wallhangings
- Rearrange the furniture
If you have a larger overhaul in mind, look for the deals we mentioned earlier:
- Floor plan changes (such as taking down a wall for a more open floor plan)
- New furniture
- New flooring
Most living area updates can be done, at least partially, by yourself. Rearranging furniture and painting are great ways to change up your space without spending a lot of money.
The Bottom Line: Remodeling on a Budget
The size and scope of your remodel, as well as how willing you are to spend time looking for deals, will determine how much you spend. With a little planning, you can redo any room on a budget: Prioritize the most important changes, leave a little room in your budget for unexpected costs, and look for deals.