10 Ways To Hack Your Renovation Budget

Sometimes I think everyone knows these things and then I learn they do not and it's not right! We must rectify the situation. Let me fill you in on few things I think might help you with your upcoming (or never ending) renovation!

1. Paint

Did you know you can buy whatever color you want at almost any paint store? Let's say you have a Home Depot gift card or coupon, but you like a Sherwin Williams color. No sweat. Just tell the paint mixer the brand, name and if you have it, the code that goes with the color. The same goes if you want a Behr color but want to buy at Benjamin Moore, etc. This is also convenient if you like a color from a brand that isn't nearby. If you are in the midwest but want a Dunn Edwards or Farrow and Ball color. Samesies. Depending where you are shopping they may not have EVERY brand but it's likely they have the majors. Also, pay careful attention to not just throw out a paint color and hope for the best. For instance, "Yo, I want Whisper White." Well guess what? Behr makes Whisper White and Dunn Edwards makes Whisper. Be careful.

2. Warehouse Deals

Did you know that Amazon Warehouse Deals exists? This doesn't just apply to renovation stuff, but I use it often for things like faucets and furnishings. Amazon Warehouse is where all the open box and return items go to be reincarnated. They even tell you in the description the condition of the item. Here is an example using one of my favorites, the Delta Trinsic kitchen faucet.


Warehouse Deal

You can see there is a $46 price difference only one is brand new and the other is "like new". Often times people open them and don't like the color or something but the item is fine. I would expect that happens a lot with the Delta Trinsic Champagne Bronze line. It is sort of an unusual brass, which I love, but I'm sure there are a lot of people out there that find it to be not what they were expecting. That's when I swoop in and pounce on those bad boys. After they've returned them. To search for deals just look for the "Buy used" under the Add to Cart button. I used to think that meant someone was selling their old crusty faucet. Bahahhaa. Nope. You can also go straight to the warehouse by choosing "Amazon Warehouse Deals" in the drop down box next to the search bar. 

3. Trade Discount

If you are a flipper or designer in the business of doing renovations, you can apply for a trade discount with many retailers. Designers typically know this but flippers never consider themselves designers or contractors, so they don't act on opportunities like this. Flippers can get trade/designer/contractor discounts at a lot of places. Plumbing, lighting and decor stores will often throw you a bone if you show some semblance of owning a business that does renovation type things. Just ask.

Homeowners: If you are working with a contractor, but you are in charge of getting the finish materials, see if you can order under their account. They normally purchase these things and charge you for it but having you get the materials takes a lot off their plate. They may be willing. This really depends on who you are working with and what you have agreed to, though. Don't expect this with higher end full service contractors, obviously.

4. Freight

If you're ordering something pretty bulky or heavy and it has to be delivered by freight, it's going to be a pretty pricey delivery charge. For instance, cement tile (and other tile) is heavy and comes on a palette. Ain't no Fedex dude carrying that to your doorway. My first time ordering cement tile I was purchasing very little because that was all I could afford. Then I discovered that the shipping was just as much as the tile, doubling the cost! DOH! The trick is....if you or someone you know has a truck and can go pick it up at the freight company's site instead of them coming to you, you will save BIG TIME. I just picked some up and it was easy peasy. They called me, I drove over, they forklifted that shiznit into my truck bed, I drove away without breaking even the slightest bit of sweat! My client just did the same. She also decided to add more tile for another bathroom because shipping it with the original order wasn't much more, but ordering them separate would have been. Good deal.

5. Use Schlueter Strip Edges

I spoke about this in a previous post about tile edging, but let's revisit because this is potentially big savings. Some people choose pencil tiles and bullnose to make some fancy borders and edging. That's great if you are doing a fancy bathroom, but people on a budget can't play those reindeer games. Enter Schlueter strips or tile edging & trim as they are really called. Us people in the biz just call them Schlueter strips. Anyway, they are metal strips used to edge the side of cut tile. For instance they are often used on the side of a shower, around a shower niche or on a backsplash. Basically wherever a cut tile edge might be seen. Some people may turn their nose up to these strips saying they are not cool or fancy but I say SHUT IT. I'll decide if it is cool or not. And sometimes it is. My wallet always thinks it is cool. They come in many colors and finishes. I like to use white often because you can't even see it is there when used with subway tile. It also gives the design a little more of a modern feel than the traditional style of the bullnose. I also like to sometimes use it as a part of the design. If you used black in a black and white design, it would make a nice little black frame around a shower niche with subway tile. Below is a nickel finish strip used in a kitchen (before white was an option).

Shuleter Strip on kitchen backsplash

6. Two Singles

Instead of buying a double vanity, buy two singles. For instance instead of buying a 60" double vanity buy two 27" or 30" singles. For whatever reason the total size ends up being nearly the same but the cost is sometimes dramatically different. Most styles you'll want to separate the two vanities a little to make it look like two stand alone pieces of furniture. Be sure to plan for that extra space. 

Another idea is to take two vanity cabinets and butt them up against each other, but span one counter across the top. The vanity in the photo below was done this way.

7. Custom Island

How in the world this is possible is beyond my comprehension, but it's true. If you have a custom island table built, it will be hundreds, maybe even thousands of dollars cheaper than a standard cabinet island. I had the island below made for around $700. To build an island of equal size with cabinetry would have cost that much before adding the counter. We'd also have to add electric to the island which in some cases can be very expensive (trenching up concrete is not fun if your home is on a slab). Assuming we would have used the same marble on the island, we're looking at a total price of more than twice the custom farmhouse table.

Space was tight in this kitchen. By designing the custom table I was able to fit a bit of storage underneath, as well as allow seating for two. Cabinetry would not have been so forgiving.

I just finished a design for a client that included a vanity done in a similar way. We had room for 2 sinks but the budget was tight. So, I had the same person make a farmhouse style table which we will convert to a double vanity. The table cost around $700, but a vanity with counters would be reaching $1,200 plus. Not only that, there's no way a vanity off the shelf is as cool as that custom made table.

8. Steal From Another Room

If you are having a photo shoot, or even just having company over, don't go buying something for every corner of your room. There are a few things I use in rooms in order to make them feel complete. Those things are usually blankets, pillows, plants, rugs and curtains. But, I can't afford to buy everything for every room. Especially if I'm staging a home, but this also works in your own home. If you're having company over, steal things like extra pillows or rugs from other rooms to fill in some holes. Maybe an extra plant would make it feel better, but having it there all the time would be cumbersome. For staging, I have a few plants that I bring from home for photo shoots that I move around the house. If I bought one for every room I'd have a heck of a time getting them all there and not damaging them. When the photographer arrives I am there to work one room ahead of them. I move plants, blankets, curtains and pillows from one room to another to get what I feel is the best look I can get. The plant below literally made it to each room in this house for the photo shoot. Why buy more when you can borrow from yourself?

9. You Don't Have To Be In Love

This is a funny one. No you don't have to love everything in your house! What I mean is not every freaking item has to be the best, cutest, loveliest version. For instance, when I'm designing a room, I don't choose all of the coolest looking tiles. I may choose one that is my favorite for the space and then the other 1 or 2 tile choices can just be a standard style that can fade into the back or complement the highlighted tile. I might choose the coolest lights known to man, but let the faucets be a less expensive version. They don't get to steal the show this time around. I love this game because it actually allows me to fall in love with something that is out of my price range or budget. I might go for the light I've been longing for even though it is $$$$, but I'll save a little on the cabinet hardware or tile floor by choosing less fancy versions. It balances out in the end.

10. Get Out

Living in a major renovation is THE WORST IDEA. I have so many points here so stick with me. I mean you gotta do what you gotta do sometimes. But, if you are going through a major renovation, try to find somewhere else to stay. Obviously the major concern here is you might be living without a kitchen or bath for some time. You might have to heat your pizza up in the microwave in the garage. You'll have to share a bathroom with your kids. This will get old.

Every day you will come home to see what they worked on and you'll see maybe NOTHING was done. Maybe you'll see a crooked tile or what looks like a mistake (maybe it is, but maybe it just hasn't been completed yet). You'll become irate at their ignorance, but you haven't really given them a chance to fix the item or explain why the heck it was done that way.

Most importantly though, if you are are there in the morning getting ready, the contractor can't be there. If you come home from work at 4 or 5, the contractor will feel like they need to get out. They might leave at 4 because you'll be home soon and they might as well not start anything else. Stay somewhere else and they can show up at 7am and stay until 7pm to get things done. THEY CAN MOVE FASTER IF YOU ARE NOT THERE.

Then there is the construction debris. I don't care how they tape off a space, dust will get through. Paint will smell. It will be noisy. It will suck. You will be bitter. Trust me. Get Out.

These were just 10 off the top of my head. I know I have more! I'll post a follow up if I can gather some juicy ones. Comment with some other hacks if you have them!

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