The Season for House Projects – How to do House projects on a tight budget?

Flooring Project 2006

When my husband and I married almost 8 years ago we bought our first house that year.  It was so exciting and we knew right off the bat that we wanted to do some updates to it.  We were so excited to jump into them too.  Before we sold the house almost 3 years later we had updated the kitchen, bathrooms, and backyard.  It was a lot of fun and we did it on a very tight budget.

How did we do all of that on a tight budget you might ask?

Here are my tips that I’ve told all of my friends and family.

1.  Do it yourself

Doing most of the labor yourself will save you thousands of dollars.  Thankfully my husband is very handy and loves to create and fix things around the house.   I was new to some of the work so I learned a lot.  Ask friends and family to teach you how to do some of the things.

2.  Plan out when you want to do it and set a deadline.

Planning is the key.  Jumping into a huge kitchen project on a Sunday night right before going back to work the next day isn’t the best plan.   I strongly suggest planning it out so that you can start on a Friday and have the weekend to complete the part of the project that you need completed.  When you have kids, make sure you have entertainment breaks in between or hire a babysitter.

3. Break up the project into smaller projects.

We did this with our kitchen.  We started with the backdrop and then did the cabinets, counter tops, and appliances.  We also focused on sections, like the island and then the section with the sink and dishwasher.

4.  When doing a house project don’t buy the most expensive items. Be practical.

If you are looking at remodeling to make the house worth more make sure you understand that is a risk you take.   I know granite is beautiful and makes the house value a tiny bit more but honestly you won’t get a lot back in your investment until you actually sell the house.  When you sell the house the market might be good or might be bad.   I’ve experienced this first hand.

We updated our kitchen on a tight budget and it was practical and beautiful.  We picked practical materials rather than granite or hardwood and we did very well on selling our house.  We got the money back and more.  However, a week later our neighbor sold his house for $10k more and didn’t remodel his kitchen at all.    There is no guarantee you will get it back reselling the house.

Don’t get me wrong I love granite and I hope some day I have granite or a nice stone in my kitchen.  Currently, I have tile and I love it but it is showing wear.  The reason to buy high end material because YOU love it and saved up for it, not to use it just to invest into the house.

4.  Where to buy materials?

Shop around.   One of my favorite places to buy house materials is the ReStore – Habitat for Humanity.  If you haven’t been to one of the local locations in NOVA, I strongly suggest you do. They have a location in Alexandria, Manassas and now Chantilly.

ReStore – Habitat for Humanity has building materials of all kinds, tile, cabinets even paint that was used once.  You can donate just about anything to them too.  Light fixtures, ovens, and dishwashers are available.   We’ve found electrical material that my hubby was looking for and couldn’t find at any other store.

For our current house we bought some beautiful Bruce (named brand) hardwood flooring at the ReStore several years ago that we used in our upstairs hallway.  Wow! We got it for about $1 a square foot which is a lot less than anywhere else.  I don’t recommend this project for a beginner because it is a challenge but it is an example of getting good quality materials for a fraction of the price.  It turned out great!