House and Home

5 Tips for Improving Your Home on a Budget

Millions of homeowners want to improve their homes, either to make them more comfortable to live in, make them more attractive, or increase their value. The trouble is, renovations and upgrades can be expensive, and often aren’t worth the extra costs.

Remodeling can run you between $16,000 and $63,000, with a national average of $38,800—unless you’re objectively increasing your home’s value by that amount, you’ll end up spending too much money.

So how can you improve your home on a budget, and still get the most value out of the investment?

Best Tips for Budget-Friendly Home Improvement

These are some of your best strategies for making the most of a home improvement:

1. Choose your projects carefully. One of your most important strategies will be choosing the right projects. Some, like full-scale kitchen remodels, will be expensive, and will add a decent chunk of value to your home. Others, like upgrading your windows, could actually net you a positive return on investment (ROI) over time, thanks to lower monthly bills. Still others, like painting, are very inexpensive and can give you a substantial upgrade. Depending on your goals, you may want to choose a project with the highest possible ROI or the lowest possible price. Either way, you should know what you’re getting into. Too many homeowners jump in blindly, pursuing a project based on their current wants rather than working to understand how to get the most value for their money.

2. Get a contractor you trust. Next, try to find a contractor you trust. The vast majority of contractors are honest workers who will charge you a fair rate, but there are always those who will charge you more than necessary, or who will cut corners to get the work done as fast as possible. Ask around the neighborhood, seeking personal recommendations, and peruse local review sites to find the best contacts in your area. One good contractor can potentially save you thousands of dollars, making sure the job is done right.

3. Do some of the work yourself. Of course, if you’re handy and interested in doing the work, you should be able to do at least some of the project yourself. In many cases, reading articles and watching videos on the internet are enough to help you understand the basics of the project at hand, and you may be able to do a few hours of work yourself to mitigate the eventual costs of the contractor. The only caveat here is you need to recognize your lack of expertise, and avoid dealing with things like electrical wiring or plumbing.

4. Consult multiple providers. Shop around to make sure you’re getting the best price, and don’t be afraid to source your materials and/or labor from multiple providers. For example, you could find out that one contractor offers a lower rate for one part of your bathroom remodel, while another contractor offers a lower rate for the other part. In general, contractors will offer discounts based on how much work you source through them, but it still pays to investigate if you can save a few hundred to a few thousand dollars.

5. Make gradual improvements. If you’re not in a rush, you can save money and make your budget last by making gradual improvements to your home. Instead of tearing down the bathroom and rebuilding from scratch, you can focus on the appliances that require replacing the most, or target superficial upgrades like painting the walls. Though in some cases, it is more efficient to do everything in one fell swoop, the piecemeal approach will make your budget stretch further, and will help you identify the most important areas to upgrade first.

Knowing Your Goals

It’s also important to keep your goals in mind when planning your home improvement projects. Are you trying to maximize the value of your home? If so, gravitate toward projects with the highest ROI. Are you trying to do the most you can with a fixed budget? Start with a dollar amount and work backward. Are you more interested in improving the comfort and/or aesthetics of your place? Trust your instincts, and try to save money where you can.

All home improvements will cost you at least some money, but you can stretch your dollar further with smart strategies and proactive planning. Keep these tactics in mind before jumping into your next home renovation project.

  • It is so, so important that people only work with contractors they can trust. I have heard of so many people getting ripped off around my area alone. It never hurts to get a second or third estimate either. A lot of people are shocked that they could save hundreds if not thousands just getting a few different price ranges from different contractors.