Saving Money on Home Improvement Projects

Sonja Garnett
Written by Sonja Garnett
Updated July 6, 2016
hammer, tape measure, and brush
There are many ways to save money on home improvement projects, but DIYing might be the least effective. (Photo by Katelin Kinney)

How can homeowners cut costs on remodeling or home maintenance projects without cutting corners?

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A lot of thought goes into home improvement projects. Should you hire the contractor with the lowest bid? Can you save money by purchasing your own materials? Should you attempt to repair the roof or other issues on your own?

Your home is your investment. As with any investment, you should weigh your options before making major decisions on home improvements. Here are some things to consider:

DIY home improvement isn’t a safe bet

DIY projects done well can save you a little money. If you're handy, then jump right in. If you're not so experienced, do your research or just hire a professional!

After all, many elements go into a home improvement project. Roof repairs, for example, require proper application of shingles, proper underlayment, ventilation, quality materials and much more. So it's a good idea to contact a professional if you’re not experienced. If you decide to tackle a home improvement project, be sure and read the manufacturer’s installation guidelines on each product carefully to avoid any warranty issues.

Depending on the project, no amount of Googling will help. Trust us — one of our employees had a really bad experience with a DIY cabinet-staining project. DIY projects often cost more over time or result in an unfinished eyesore of a project.

Contractors often get calls from a homeowner who started a DIY project and got so far into it, but then unforeseen issues occurred. This is common, even for contractors, but professionals have the crews and experience to handle these situations.

Can you save money by purchasing the materials?

Trying to save money can be a great thing, but purchasing your own materials could come with higher out-of-pocket costs — not to mention the headache. You must ensure you purchase the right amount of materials and proper accessories — vents, underlayment and house wrap for siding, among other things. Roofing and siding warranties are a part of a system and must have a certain amount of manufacturer product installed to receive a valid warranty.

Remember, installing a product that’s good for the pocketbook isn’t always good for your home. Over time, some products fail or the warranty isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, leaving you fighting the manufacturer over any issues. Professional contractors know which materials are best for your home, can work closely on your behalf with manufacturers should a warranty issue occur and oftentimes get better deals on material due to supplier incentives

Lower the cost of the company you like

Be open with your sales representative. Try good, old-fashioned bargaining! Discussing a budget with your contractor when they come for the appointment is a great idea. It lets them know upfront what you’re looking for and can safely afford.

Let them know what competitors have bid on your project. This is a great way to negotiate if you have a specific company you want to work with, but its price is a little high. Most contractors are willing to tailor their bid to your needs within reason. In most cases, it’s better to bargain a little than lose a potential client.

Also, look for contractor coupons or online deals. It seems obvious, right? But most people don’t think to look for deals on a company’s website. Many contractors offer coupons or deals that will help reduce the cost.

Hiring the best contractor is the best deal

Simply accepting the lowest bid is never a good idea. While it’s good to be competitive, it is imperative you protect yourself. A low bid often means the company uses subpar materials, is an out-of-state contractor or produces less than desirable work.

Whenever you hire contractors, always check their reputation on review websites, such as Angie’s List. Make sure contractors have a valid website and are local so you can contact them if necessary in the future.

Are you deciding whether to hire or DIY an upcoming home improvement project? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!

As of July 6, 2016, this service provider was highly rated on Angie's List. Ratings are subject to change based on consumer feedback, so check Angie's List for the most up-to-date reviews. The views expressed by this author do not necessarily reflect those of Angie's List.

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