Although I had a great relationship with my dad, I never realized how much of a presence he had in our lives. The cliche seems to hold true that you never really fully appreciate someone until they aren’t here. In the last year, I have learned more about who he was as a person and everything he had done for his family as we settle his affairs. However, I was most taken aback by how much he did to maintain the home and property. Unfortunately, as he got sicker, certain repairs got pushed aside. Since my mom plans to stay in the house, we have a lot of work to do. Now that we are trying to figure things out and hire contractors, we are looking for ways to minimize the home renovation costs as well.
Assessing the Amount of Work
My father’s funeral was one of the hardest days of my life. However, I had no idea that in addition to our grief, the hard work was just about to begin.
You see, my dad was a junk collector and had a multitude of unfinished projects he left behind. Some had already begun deteriorating as well. Rather than letting them sit for another decade, my family decided to start downsizing and finding new owners who would give his old projects new life. However, we had to start by digging them out from beneath all the junk.
Over the course of a few months, we hauled away dumpsters full of garbage and salvaged things of value. Although we had removed years of accumulated garbage, we also made some unpleasant discoveries. As the piles stood there over the years, they also concealed several areas affected by mold and water damage.
Now that the stuff was out of the way, we have to address the home repairs that should have been corrected years ago. Luckily, both my husband and brother have contracting experience, so we were able to assess how much work needed to be done.
- The frame surrounding both the front and back doors had dry rot and need to be replaced.
- There is severe water damage and wood rot under the bay windows and back patio doors which all need replacing. Since we are taking the wall down, we are also using this opportunity to add more storage space.
- The master bath needs a complete renovation due to a non-functioning jet tub, improper ventilation, and mold.
- We also need to address the water damage/mold in the basement and attic spaces.
Bids for the Home Renovation Costs
Since no one in the family had the time to undertake such a large project, we decided to hire it out and get it done quickly. The good news was that we already had a contractor in mind that we had worked with in the past. Following a few consultations, he gave us a fair bid for the first three projects.
However, it’s always best to shop around and compare prices to make sure it is competitive. Getting a second opinion and additional estimates made it easier to come to a decision. We went with our contractor for the bathroom and dining room, but found a smaller operation with better prices to replace the doors. All in, we are looking at a very expensive renovation:
- $35-$40k for dining room/bay window/patio doors
- $15-$20k for the master bathroom
- $10k for both doors
Given the extent of the work and the season, we decided to wait until spring to address the other issues in the basement and attic. However, we did get a bid for the attic with an initial estimate of around $4,500.
5 Ways to Minimize Your Home Renovation Costs
The grand total for all these repairs was staggering, to say the least. And these repairs only addressed the most immediate concerns. None of these figures take into account any add-ons or cosmetic upgrades that my mom chooses. Therefore, we are looking at every turn to minimize home renovation costs.
1. Always shop around.
Anytime you make a large purchase, you need to shop around for the best price. Don’t be afraid to get multiple bids from different contractors. Compare to see if they are similar in price point. If one is much higher or lower, it might be cause for suspicion. So, do your research to find the right contractor.
2. Order the materials yourself.
If your contractor is ordering all the materials for you, they automatically mark up the price. In addition to their wages, these increases cover the charges for gas and transportation as well. But if you are willing to order the materials yourself, you could save on supply costs.
3. Look for rebates.
Most national home improvement retailers have great sales around the holidays, in particular, Black Friday/Cyber Monday. Since stores are trying to make room for the new inventory you can find some great deals. We saved over $800 on the bathroom vanity because the store had a red tag sale.
However, you should also pay attention to when these stores offer additional discounts and rebates. For example, Menards is famous for its 11% off rebates. When you buy in bulk, these rebates add up. So, make sure to complete all rebates and send them in. For huge projects like these, it will save you hundreds if not thousands of dollars.
4. Check inventory at close-out stores.
Although I usually prefer to get materials from suppliers that offer warranties, you can find some great discounts on quality products when you shop close-out sales. When stores need to clear out inventory, they slash prices. And if the materials have been sitting there long enough, it applies to even the most expensive options. But keep in mind that even if can get you a great price, it may be hard to match in the future if it is discontinued.
5. Invest in quality.
My biggest takeaway from this process is why you should invest in quality. One reason we are having so many issues is that the jobs weren’t done right the first time. Now, we will end up spending more to not only repair the damage, but also to redo the initial job. While it might cost more upfront, paying for quality products and workmanship will save you more in the long run.
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Jenny Smedra is an avid world traveler, ESL teacher, former archaeologist, and freelance writer. Choosing a life abroad had strengthened her commitment to finding ways to bring people together across language and cultural barriers. While most of her time is dedicated to either working with children, she also enjoys good friends, good food, and new adventures.