The cost of labor is the largest portion of a remodeling budget.
If you are a do-it-yourselfer with the time, energy, resources and know-how to do the construction yourself, then you can save thousands on labor costs.
In preparation for a remodel, this homeowner sold almost everything shown in this photo — from the hardwood floors to the gazebo. The buyers removed the material, saving the homeowner from having to do the demolition himself or paying someone else to do it.
Here are a few more ideas on how to save during a remodel if you are doing the work yourself.
Ways to save on materials: Material costs are the second largest category in your remodeling budget. Therefore, one basic way to cut costs is to try to get your materials as inexpensively as possible.
You may need to get creative and take the time to track down a good deal.
The Internet can be your best friend when you are shopping for deals.
Locally, we have sites such as KSL.com where people are always selling surplus or slightly used building supplies. This works well because you don’t have to add shipping costs since the materials are available in the area.
You can also find cheaper building supplies at auctions. Get creative and take the time to find the deals.
Habitat for Humanity sells surplus building materials to the public. There are three Habitat ReStore outlets in Utah — one in Orem, one in Salt Lake City and another in St. George. The items sold in the stores vary daily; the stock is dependent on what people donate. Not all of the materials are used.
Sometimes homeowners have items that they ended up not using or excess materials where they overbought the required amount. Various local stores also donate seconds or overstocked items. It is worth taking a look. You might be able to find some supplies, fixtures or other remodeling items you may need.
On the other end of the spectrum, Habitat for Humanity obviously accepts donations of used or surplus materials. They may be interested in the fixtures and cabinets that you pull out of your house that still have some life left in them. See www.habitat.org/restores.
Don’t have your materials delivered. If you are doing your own project, you can slash your material delivery fees by picking up the materials yourself. Most stores and lumber yards charge about $75 to deliver materials. That adds up fast.
Just think that 10 deliveries means $750. If you don’t have a pickup truck, for about $400 you can find a used single-axle utility trailer online that you can pull with an SUV. Get one just big enough to carry 4-by-8 sheets and it will pay for itself in about a half a dozen trips. After you are done, you can keep it or sell it just the same way you got it
Plan with stock sizes in mind: Architects and builders already use this mentality but it is worth mentioning.
Ask yourself, ‘Why am I building something 10 feet wide if plywood comes in 4–foot–wide sheets?’ The same applies to stock windows and doors: Use manufacturers’ off–the–shelf dimensions from the outset and you will save the premiums of custom fabrication.
While there is a time and a place for custom windows and doors, it will save you money if you go with the stock sizes.
Partner with a contractor: Although the practice is controversial among the trades, some contractors offer consulting and mentoring services to skilled do–it–yourselfers on an hourly basis.
Some builders charge around $150 per hour for such coaching, with a two-hour minimum commitment.
This option is a happy medium between fully hiring a contractor and going it totally alone.
Remodeling is a different beast than new construction. If your experience is mostly in new construction, it may be worth having a few hours of consulting from a remodeling contractor who does this every day.
Partner with an architect and work with a master plan: Our old advice remains the same no matter who is swinging the hammer. Doing it yourself doesn’t mean winging it. Have a master plan in place and do your projects in a sequence that makes sense.
Most do-it-yourselfers are working nights and weekends on their project. They typically need to phase the job tackling one part of the project at a time.
If you don’t have a master plan, you run the risk of having to rip out this year’s work next year.
This is one of the most common mistakes people make. A master plan for your home will save you from making mistakes along the way, and therefore will end up paying for itself.
Good luck, you courageous do-it-yourselfers. Happy remodeling!
Architects Ann Robinson and Annie V. Schwemmer are the founders of Renovation Design Group, www.renovationdesigngroup.com, a local residential architectural firm specializing in home remodels.