DISCLAIMER: It was hard to write this blog & be sensitive to everyone. This is my OWN opinion & what we have learned remodeling our own home as well as working in the construction industry for 10+ years. That being said, everyone has different expertise & life experience. Take what you will, but of course whatever works for YOU is best. Xoxo Mariah.
With my husband & I both working in the construction industry as well as remodeling our own home, we have learned a thing or two. Today I am sharing with you everything we have learned about home upgrades & remodels! With tips on how to save money, questions to ask contractors, and when you should do it yourself or hire the professional. Let’s get started!
YOUR HOUSE IS AN INVESTMENT, NOT AN EXPERIMENT
There is a huge appeal in wanting to remodel your house on your own. It’s a total ego boost of being able to say you did it yourself & you think all the hours of Fixer Upper you have binged gives you the credentials. I get it. I was once you.
We started our first DIY remodel in the hall bathroom. We tried installing cheap tile sheets of backsplash above the shower, painted the cabinets in the cheapest paint (not knowing what I was doing I coated it about 20 times), and framed the mirror with some MDF trim that we had no idea how to get them to stick on. It was a MESS. When we finally came back to do the bathroom the RIGHT way, we almost had to replace the cabinets because the paint job was so bad (thankfully we were able to salvage) and had to trash the mirror totally, get a drywall guy in to fix all the holes and damage caused by our cheap backsplash, and paid way more in repairs than we should have if we would have just done it right the first time.
That bathroom project taught us so much. But most importantly, it taught us about the value of our home. Remodels are supposed to increase the value of your home and when you do go to sell (even if it’s 5-10 years later) you will have an advantage having a turn-key property. But what a lot of people don’t realize is when you DIY everything with YouTube being your teacher because you think it’ll save you money, it actually ends up costing you more in the long RUN and you lose out on huge advantages (like warranties).
Your home is the BIGGEST investment you will make, so treat it that way. Do the things you have experience in (or is cheap enough to have fixed) and leave the rest up to the professionals. So when you do finally sell your home, you’re not losing out on major dollars from 1- having to hire a professional to fix your mistakes & extending escrow (just because you can live with the DIY job doesn’t mean someone else will) or 2- the buyer knocks off major dollars from the asking price because it is going to cost them to fix it.
Before we really dive in, I want to clarify some things. Doing it yourself can be a really great thing. And I’m not wanting to discourage anyone who has experience in certain areas from tackling projects they feel confident in. If you (or someone you are close with) are handy, experienced, and able to tackle big projects then OF COURSE use those talents to your advantage and get working!
The point I’m trying to get across is if you have never retiled a shower and don’t have anyone to help you that has experience, then save it for a professional. I will be including projects below that are low risk, anyone can DIY as well as tips on how to save or finance for bigger projects. Also, I want to stress that one thing to keep in mind when you have a licensed professional doing the big projects there is usually a warranty included. So if in 5 years a tile comes loose, your showerhead stops working, or your front window glass breaks you are covered by your warranty and not having to spend more money to fix it (plus it helps increase the value of your home when you go to sell).
HOW TO REMODEL YOUR HOME WITHOUT GOING INTO DEBT
Rome wasn’t built in a day, and your home won’t be either.
The #1 piece of advice I have for starting a remodel, is to be PATIENT. It has taken us 3 years just to remodel the front half of our house. You should see our bedroom & master bath, they’re a mess. But we have been able to do it exactly how we wanted and 100% DEBT FREE.
- MAKE A PLAN
- Before you start doing ANYTHING create a list of everything you want to do in your home room by room. It’ll more than likely change as you start to get projects done but it’ll save you money in the long run. By having a plan you can see what you are comfortable doing yourself and what you will need a professional for.
- Do you want to paint the walls and replace flooring in a room? Then you know your first project will be painting the walls and then you can move onto flooring.
- It’s so tempting to just dive into the projects, but researching each and every project will save you SO MUCH MONEY. If you want to paint, are you going to do it yourself or hire a professional? Painting is pretty easy so if you’re going to do it yourself, research what the highest quality of paint you can get catered for that room and what supplies are needed ahead of time. If you are going to hire a professional to do the project, research what materials are on the market, if they come with a warranty, etc. It’s also beneficial during the research period to start scheduling estimates with companies. You DO NOT have to sign today but you can learn more about their products, warranties, and get an idea for the next step- creating your budget.
- After you have made your detailed plan, prioritized the projects & done your research, you can start to create a budget for every single project. Don’t give yourself a firm number but more of an area you are comfortable with. Floors are obviously going to cost more, so decide how much you are wanting to spend & if you are wanting to get it done in one shot or phases.You should know before setting your budget what projects you will tackle yourself and what ones you will hire out for. Knowing ahead of time will play a huge role in setting your budget
[Here is a great list of questions to ask contractors when you are shopping around for the perfect company that meets your needs.]
We did a ton of research before we remodeled our kitchen. We priced out what we could do ourselves and how much it would cost if we hired a remodel company or pieced out each item. Since it was the biggest project we did, it saved us THOUSANDS hiring a remodel company that handled it all. They had reputable contractors that they worked with for everything we wanted done. Plus we only had to worry about paying one person and they handled all the scheduling!
If you are local to the Central Valley, we highly recommend ICON Construction you can also find the list of all contractors we have worked with here.
However, when we remodeled our hall bathroom it saved us money piecing out each task. It was such a small project that there wasn’t a lot of profit in it for a remodeling company so finding professionals in the individual trades needed made more sense for us. We were able to remodel our entire hall bathroom for $4500! That’s why researching ahead of time is so important!!
Now that you have done all the prep work, it’s time to get started!
UTILIZE INTEREST-FREE FINANCING
When we replaced all the floors in our house we first priced out how much it would cost to do in sections or all at once. It saved us money getting it done in one phase but was a little more than what we had saved for. So we paid what we had in cash and then utilized their interest-free financing. We financed the floors through Synchrony Home who offered 18 months interest-free. If you pay before the interest-free period is over, you literally are paying a cash price and not losing out on any money to interest! However, if you do not pay before the period is up, they retro the interest from the entire 18 months and add it to your bill ON TOP of paying interest monthly. THAT IS HOW YOU GET INTO DEBT. That’s why it’s so crucial to make a budget that works for YOU and make sure you can stick to it.
On our floors we chose the medium grade that worked for our home. We wanted something that would last without being too expensive. They have a double lifetime warranty (meaning the next homeowner will get the warranty as well), took them only 3 days to complete, and only cost about $1500 more than if we were to do it ourselves. For us it was well worth the cost & dramatically increased the value of our home!
We also didn’t start another project outside a couple hundred dollars until our floors were 100% paid off BEFORE the 18 months. Once we paid off the floors, we moved onto some DIY projects we were comfortable with while saving for the next big project.
Then once we came to our hall bathroom, we hired the same company that did our floors to retile the hall bath floor and shower. We paid cash for the other projects and utilized their interest-free financing again. This allowed us to get the entire thing done at once without shelling out $4500 all at once. Again, we halted all projects until our bathroom was paid off before the end of the 18 months.
That’s why I say to be patient if you want to remodel your home debt-free! Pay off one project at a time before starting another. While you’re paying off your interest-free or low-interest project, it’s a great time to do some small DIY projects or landscaping!
UTILIZE DEALS, PROMOTIONS, AND REBATES!
We had a gas insert added to our fireplace we literally spent $100 on. It was an end of the year special where this local company was offering a $1600 rebate on a certain gas fireplace. So we paid $1700 upfront (we used our credit card) and then received the $1600 rebate within 3 weeks of install. We were able to make our payment on the credit card before interest hit and got one hell of a deal! We didn’t get to choose the style of the fireplace we wanted, but the deal was too good to pass up and it has dramatically upgraded our home!
A lot of contractors and companies are slow in the winter months around the holidays. However, if you plan ahead you can use it to your advantage and save THOUSANDS. From experience, JZ Construction usually offers incredible discounts starting in Nov-Jan. Such as 30% off MSRP or free install of window coverings with the purchase of windows. And manufactures will even offer their own promotions such as free upgrades or rebates like above!
BE PATIENT and if you can, waiting for the winter months for interior remodels will save you major $$$!
LOW RISKS DIY PROJECTS
When we started researching painting our living room, every quote I got was $3500-$4500. We have high ceilings that have weird angles so it would require extension ladders and more labor spent taping it off. I felt like that was a ridiculous amount to spend on one room and decided it was worth the risk to do it ourselves.
We recruited my mom & step-dad and were able to paint our entire living room in two days and for $500. However I did get some paint on the ceiling but was able to find a handyman that had an extension ladder to fix it for $150. So we only paid $650 all said and done. DIY literally saved us THOUSANDS and the cost to fix some mistakes was well worth it!
Another low risk DIY project we took advantage of was shiplap. Really the only thing about shiplap that’s expensive is the labor. After doing our research we decided that it was low risk and not that hard AT ALL to install. It took us about 3 days to do all the shiplap in our house and it turned out amazing!!
So take advantage of low risk DIY projects. I’m not trying to say all DIY is bad!!! There are some things you can do with no experience that turn out amazing.
A few projects we did with no experience that turned out great were:
- Upgrading door hardware & light switch covers
- Installing some light fixtures
- Refinishing or replacing interior doors
- Switching fireplace mantle
- Light drywall repair
- Some demoing
We learned very quickly what our strengths and weaknesses were and planned accordingly. Even though we have been anxious to finish our house the quickest and cheapest way possible, we know it’s not worth it in the long run.
I hope this helps someone when planning their next remodel! Make sure to head over to Picking Daisies Instagram to see more before & after pictures as well as more remodel details.
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