June 17, 2024

When you talk to someone about remodeling, the first thing that comes to mind is painting. This is a good thought because paint not only gives you a completely new look for a little of nothing but it gives you an almost immediate since of satisfaction. That since of satisfaction can be more fulfilling than anything else and will help you to keep going when you get those project blues. That is the point in which you think you are never going to get your home back together. If you get to that point, break out some paint and hit a room real quick, this will help get you past that point.

If your on a tight budget, visit all of the paint and home improvement stores in your area, you can often buy miss-mixed paint for almost nothing. If your patient and visit often, you can find colors that will suit your design needs. You might even find a color that you wouldn’t normally purchase and you just might be surprised how well that it goes in the bathroom! If the price is low enough you can even mix paints for a custom color, just make sure you have enough to do the job. At the same time look for discontinued wallpaper and tile, this can save you hundreds of dollars and you will still get that custom look. Where I live there are two large tile manufactures who have discount yards where they sell seconds. One of my fellow contractors once told me that he had rather lay their seconds than the firsts you get at a national chain. (I wont mention the name of the national retailer as I wouldn’t want to get sued over an article)

When shopping at your local home improvement stores, look for damaged appliances and materials. I have purchased stacks of drywall for fifty cents a sheet saving nine dollars a board. I can cut out bad spots all day to save that kind of money. I also have a friend who was building a new house a couple of years ago, he got all of his stainless steel appliances for hundreds less than list because they were dented. The dents on his happened to be on the side where it is never seen due to the kitchen design. It would be worth building a hiding wall to save five or six hundred dollars on a stainless steel refrigerator. Don’t you think?

Another trend in materials are the recycled material suppliers. What these guys do is go in and tear down buildings that normally would have been bulldozed into dumpsters. The materials these guys collect are real treasures. The hardware that you can get not only has that antique quality but it is often built to a higher standard than modern hardware. Not to mention the look you can achieve using these materials. One of the other great finds at these stores are the doors. Before manufactures figured out that they could make cardboard into a “solid” material, doors were made of solid wood. These usually need to be refinished, but with the savings you get along with the quality of the product, it is worth every minute of your time.

What I have to say next goes without saying, do it yourself. What few people realize is that when you hire a builder, the cost of materials is usually a fraction of the cost. Builders not only have payroll but they have taxes, workers comp, transportation, tools and other overhead that makes every dollars worth of material installed cost up to three. When you consider this, you can get almost three times the bang for your buck if your willing to do your homework and get a little dirty. One thing I have to add to this is this, I have known many builders who are “job scared” so don’t be scared to tackle a project that you have never done before because out there somewhere is a professional who is just as scared to try it. (thats our little secret as they really don’t want you to know that)

Unconventional materials is another way to save money. I don’t know if you have ever been to a steak house where they have rough sawn walls with galvanized metal roofing for wainscoting, but if you have then you probably thought that they did it for the atmosphere. Wrong, atmosphere is secondary to cost for all businesses. I am not suggesting that you make your house look like a steak house, what I am suggesting is that you think outside of the box. I know a girl who decorated house boats, she could use cloth in a thousand different ways. I went to her house once and was surprised to see that she had used cloth for wall covering. It looked like a houseboat, which isn’t a bad thing. The point is that if you use your imagination, you can achieve a custom look for a little of nothing. Often cloth stores will have sales to get rid of stock that simply isn’t selling. This can be your chance to save a lot of money.

What can I do with cloth? Well, for one thing you can change the look of your old furniture. Purchase the right cloth and anyone can reupholster anything. My former father-in-law was an upholsterer, the real secret to any project like that is to take the old upholstery off carefully then use the old pieces for patterns for the new pieces. Simple really, like I said earlier, don’t be job scared. You can do anything you want to do. If you don’t have a sewing machine, you can purchase a new machine for a hundred dollars or less. If you look around you can buy a used one for as little as twenty dollars. This little machine along with a little cloth can save you thousands if you let it.

One note on used furniture, there are very few items as far as furniture is concerned, that I would buy. Let me explain why, although you can save a lot of money buy purchasing used furniture, don’t do it unless you know a reputable reseller. I worked for Curtis-Mathis (the last American television manufacture for the young readers) and while working there we repossessed a television from a home and then sold it to another. My boss ended up spending several hundred dollars for pest control because of that one television. Therefore, unless the reseller has a fumigation system for furniture, don’t buy it and never buy from a homeowner unless you know them personally and know that their home isn’t infested. We had a neighbor whose home was infested with brown recluses, he sold his furniture at a yard sale, scary….

Back to unconventional materials, you can make new counter tops out of concrete. You can convert an old dresser into a vanity. You can take an old door and make a dining room table, I have seen this done with outstanding results. You can take panes of glass and make custom shelves. You can use a million different items for things that they were never intended for. It is all about imagination. We had a neighbor who was an art major in college and he was a potter. He gave us many clay pots which we use as decoration throughout our home. They add a rustic look to our home and cost us nothing. If you have a art school in your area, use the resource as they are looking for almost any outlet. Although you probably wont get art for free, you can get some great deals and you never know if your buying something from the next Picasso.

To finish, I have to say that the one thing I said over and over is worth repeating, use your imagination. Do your homework and don’t be job scared. As every professional out there was scared of his job at one time or another, whether he/she wants to admit it or not. One last suggestion, use local materials that you can get for free. Pick up stones out of a field (ask first) and use them for landscaping. Make bricks or tile out of the dirt in your yard, just mix with approximately 50% cement and 25% sand if the soil is heavy and wallah, you have materials that match your local soils. You would be surprised how well these items will look in your yard or in your home. Thanks for reading and remember, do your homework….

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