When we have a little money to spare for home improvements, it’s tempting to just pile in and spend until the money runs out. But the result could be shoddy, half-finished jobs that end up being more of an irritation than an improvement. So, what do we do? We GO OVER BUDGET! And if we see that’s still not good enough, we go over budget some more.
Going the DIY route is smart (provided you know how to do the job), so smart strategies that keep us within the amount of money we plan to spend are a must for frugal households. Here’s how to take the high-road!
Plan every detail
And by this, we mean absolutely everything. Account for every bit of sandpaper, every paintbrush, every roll of tape or tube of glue you’ll need to get your project done. As for materials like wood, paint or flooring, check out the finer details here too.
If you’re trying a particular DIY job for the first time, prepare to become an expert before you start. Watch YouTube videos, talk to consultants at your local hardware store, and know exactly what you will need for every step of the process.
Once you’ve compiled your list of requirements, it’s time to start getting prices. Shop around, but be careful of cheap substitutions since they may not be as durable or effective. For example, cheap PVA often produces a thinner coat meaning that you have to use more paint to get the job done, and it may not be washable so that you’ll have to repaint sooner.
The worst waste often happens because people got something basic, such as the measurements for pieces of wood, wrong. Double and triple check your materials’ quantity estimates to make sure you don’t wind up with a lot of materials you can’t even use because you got the specifications wrong.
Add a margin
Once you’ve got all the prices, you may think the total equals your budget for the job, but often, you’ll have some bright idea for something else you can do “while you’re at it,” some items turn out more expensive than you expected, or something goes wrong.
A 20% – 25% margin may not be an absolute failsafe, but it will give you a little leeway if your careful plans go awry.
Look for frugal deals that won’t hurt quality
There are a lot of warehouses that stock surplus or reusable materials from professional builders’ projects. You can get everything from perfectly good window frames to bathroom fittings, door handles, and roofing materials.
The stock turns over quickly, especially when the deals are good, so pop in for regular visits to see if you can find what you’re looking for. When choosing second-hand materials be sure they won’t cost you more to refurbish than they would cost new.
Check out tools rental vs. buying
Having the right tools will help you get your DIY project done more efficiently. Although tools rental can be expensive, it’s likely to cost you less than buying new tools. So, if you’re only going to use a tool once in a blue moon, renting could be the best solution. However, if you’re an avid DIYer and will often put the tools to work, feel free to buy new or (good) second-hand tools.
Factor in your time
If you would usually spend some of the time you’re going to spend on your DIY project on a money-making venture, the time you use on DIY is really a cost. Factor it into your total budget, because you won’t be able to earn as much as usual.
Be realistic about the time you will spend on DIY. You also need some time off to relax. What’s that worth to you?
Too expensive? Proceed with caution
When your budget total seems a bit near the bone for you financially, it may be better to hang on until you’ve saved extra money rather than trying to take short-cuts. After all, this is your home, and you want to enhance it, not spoil it.
If you think you’ve found a cheaper way to get your DIY project done, be aware of any downside. Will it still look good? Will the materials last?
Compare your costs with a quote from a pro
One of the advantages of using a pro is that he can’t exceed his quote. You know exactly what the job costs before he starts. Your DIY project will take time and effort. Factor that in when comparing costs and be sure the saving you’ll make is significant enough to make DIY worthwhile.
Going ahead? Track your budget religiously
You’ve been through the whole process: Do-able? Yes! Affordable? Yes! Extra margin for any unforeseen costs? Check!
You decide it’s all systems go! Now’s the time to track your spending very carefully. A budget is a plan. To ensure you stick to that plan, track every cost carefully – and remember – DIY can be fun, even though it is serious business!
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