How We Saved Big Bucks on Our Home Remodeling Project (And You Can Too!)

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The following is a guest post by fellow Yakezie participant, Kyle Taylor. Kyle is the editor of The Penny Hoarder, a daily blog with hundreds of weird and wacky tips on how to make/save extra money. Enjoy the post and make sure to stop by Kyle’s site for more posts like this! – Jacob

How We Saved Big Bucks on Our Home Remodeling Project 

(And You Can Too!)

There’s a timeless adage that reads: “If you want something done right, do it yourself.” While I find that’s an adage that doesn’t usually fail me, I was pretty sure we were in over our heads with this one.

You see, my significant other and I recently started buying small homes to rent out. We live in a part of Florida where the rental market is fairly strong, but the housing prices are still severely depressed. All of the homes we’ve bought have needed various levels of work, so to save money on maintenance and remodeling costs, we decided to take on some of the projects ourselves.

We had both done some small home repairs, but the thought of doing things like tiling and installing new kitchen cabinets seemed like an impossible mission. Still, the lure of saving thousands of dollars was all I needed to give it a try.

The process was trying, to say the least, but after blowing through our material budget the first day, engaging in a few shouting matches, and indulging in a quick cry after I hit my thumb with the hammer, we had finished. I’m not sure the shouting matches were entirely avoidable (it was stressful after all), but the exploding budget was something I wasn’t prepared to let happen again.

For the long-term homeowner or a new investment property owner, keeping your material costs in check can be one of the hardest and most lucrative steps you take. So, when project #2 started, I decided to get smart about it. Here are a few of the things that I did to save more than 40% on my material costs…

Craigslist is Your Best Friend

Craigslist is a net-based treasure trove smorgasbord abounding with do-it-yourself construction materials. Think of Craigslist as a modern-day version of yesteryear’s newspaper classifieds section. When starting out on the site, search in specific terms. If shiny-chrome plumbing fixtures are on your mind, search for items of that verbiage exactly.

For significant building material savings, keep an open mind with what you find. For example, look hard at adjusting your design expectations if you find a deal that’s almost too good to be true.

The savvy Craigslist shopper can find plenty of deals on refurbished or used items, such as cabinetry, as well. If you find something on Craigslist that doesn’t fit the dimension or decor of your remodel, consider refurbishing it for a different use. An example would be this filing cabinet turned outdoor planter. Another is a claw-foot tub turned couch. Be creative!

(A word to the wise: be a safe Craigslist shopper. Bring along a partner when you head out to inspect and possibly buy a particular remodel item or construction material.)

Blowout and Going-Out-Of-Business Deals

The economy is still tough. Construction-related industries are struggling and prices are continually slashed. Many of the Big-Box home retailers feature blowout sales and coupon savings on building products that have sat too long on warehouse shelves. For example, by doing a quick search online, you can easily find a 

free shipping coupon code for Home Depot.

To find the best deals, contact and visit warehouses dealing in specific areas of home construction — for instance, carpet warehouses, tile and flooring depots, plumbing warehouses, etc. Also, “Going out of Business” sales are a surefire way of finding great deals in a sour economy. 

If you find a Deal, Purchase Extra!

If you find a deal on a building product that is truly too good to be true, make sure to stock up on enough quantity to allow for future repairs. For example, if you need exactly 100 square feet of floor tile, or 15 gallons of an unusual paint color, purchase 10% extra (110 square feet of tile; 16.5 gallons of paint).

As a do-it-yourselfer, you will most certainly make mistakes and you’ll be glad that you had the extras.
Do-it-yourself projects can be stressful, but by taking a few steps to keep the costs down, you’ll be surprised just how much you can save, not to mention how good it feels to have done it yourself. Just keep humming Frank Sinatra’s “I Did it My Way,” and you’ll have all the motivation you need to finish your project.

So, have you recently tackled any do-it-yourself projects? How’d it go? How much money do you predict you saved by doing it yourself vs hiring someone?

Share your experiences by commenting below!

    ***Photo courtesy of


    1. I definitely agree with the buy extra one. We bought our house and have some cracked tiles but there are no extra tiles to be found. I am currently replacing the doors myself and it is an interesting task, not hard, but time consuming.
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      • Thanks for sharing Lance! Has it been hard to find the exact matching tiles that go with the rest of floor?
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        • I haven't even tried. We'll eventually want to replace all of the tile but it will be such a pain we may not do it. You have to look hard to see the cracks so unless it become more apparant we aren't too worried about it.
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    2. I got estimates to paint 3 rooms ranging from $600-$800. I did it myself, cost me $120.

    3. While I do like the craigslist plan I think you have to be careful (especially there) but sometimes the time can be a bit of an investment. If your furnishing plan has a bit of a time horizon I think that CL can be an amazing asset. I think I prefer the Blow Outs and even IKEA/Target sales sometimes. Even though I curse the products when it takes me 4 hours to put together a desk chair 🙂 Savings is savings though and that's what matters!

    4. freefrombroke says:

      Buying extra can be quite useful. Many things like tile change their style after a couple of years. Trying to match it up again can be impossible.

      If you do have to hire someone watch what they do. Often just seeing how they go through a project is enough to do it yourself the next time.
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    5. I redid our Jack and Jill bathroom last summer for around $750. My hubby and I did the work ourselves and I found travertine tile, kohler faucets, a shower curtain and picture frames at a garage sale. I borrowed the tile cutter from my son and used the spray on tub and tile re-surfacer on the vanity tops. It turned out great!
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      • Nice job doing that all yourselves! Have you all had any training on repair work? I don't know if I would trust myself to handle the plumbing and all! haha
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