Home renovation projects can help homeowners transform their homes into their own personal oases. But such transformations do not typically come cheap, costing homeowners tens of thousands of dollars depending on the scope of the project.
Each year, Remodeling magazine releases its "Cost vs. Value Report," which helps homeowners determine which projects are likely to provide the best return on investment upon selling a home and which are less likely to deliver substantial returns. For example, in 2015 homeowners who added wood decks to their homes could expect to recoup nearly 81 percent of the cost of that project at resale, while those who remodeled a home office recouped less than 50 percent of the cost of that project at resale.
The cost of home renovation projects and the potential return on investing in such projects is a big consideration for homeowners. But even those working on tight budgets can find ways to save without resorting to lower quality materials or poor workmanship.
• Work with salvaged materials. The cost of materials can be considerable, but homeowners can cut those costs by choosing salvaged materials for their projects. This may only be an option for DIYers, as some contractors refuse to work with salvaged materials for fear of liability down the road if the materials do not hold up. Salvaged materials benefit the environment because they are reused rather than discarded, and homeowners can even support Habitat for Humanity by buying their salvaged materials from one of the nonprofit organization's ReStores, which sell used furniture, appliances, accessories and materials.
• Do some of your own dirty work. Even if you are not a seasoned DIYer, you can save some money on labor costs by performing some of your own demolition work. Such DIY demo work is best left to exterior projects, such as breaking up an old sidewalk or discarding an old deck. When you take your DIY skills to your home's interior, you run the risk of making serious and costly mistakes, such as damaging plumbing or demolishing a load-bearing wall.
• Consider labor-friendly projects. Labor accounts for a substantial amount of renovation costs, so if your budget is especially tight consider projects that are less labor-intensive. Such projects might not be as glamorous, but they can make great investments. For example, the "2015 Cost vs. Value Report" found that replacing existing entryway doors with 20-gauge steel units cost slightly more than $1,200 but provided a better than 100 percent return on investment. Tend to such minor projects for now while saving for larger, more expensive projects.
• Comparison shop and exercise patience. Much like you might comparison shop when purchasing a new appliance, comparison shop when looking for a contractor as well. Ask for estimates in writing from each contractor you speak with, but be careful not to choose a contractor based strictly on the estimate. You want a contractor you're comfortable with and who understands your vision, not just one who's coming in at the lowest price. In addition, contractors are typically more flexible with pricing during their offseason, which means winter in many regions.
Home renovation projects can be costly, but homeowners need not bust their budges to get the home of their dreams.