A contractor’s tips to get the remodel you want for less
By Kenny Grono, Houzz
Everyone knows remodeling is expensive, but it usually ends up becoming even more expensive than you thought. So, how can you get the house you want while sticking to a strict budget? Take some advice from this contractor — the tips below can help you finish your project without veering too far off your plan.
1. Finish the plan. The more time you spend working out and finalizing the plan with your architect and contractor, the more time you’ll have to find cost savings and prevent expensive change orders down the road
2. Find a contractor willing to value engineer your project. Value engineering is when the design team, you and the contractor discuss creative ways to achieve the design intent for less. Be honest about your budget from the beginning — if you find a builder you want to work with and he knows you are serious about working with him and not shopping around for a bunch of quotes, he will be more likely to put in the time to get creative with your budget.
3. Use eBay and Craigslist. I know, I know — I told you not to buy your own materials. But certain deals are hard to pass up. If you can get the farmhouse sink you want for half price because someone else has to unload it, go for it. Just get it before the cabinet design is finalized and have it onsite before you plan around it.
4. Schedule work for the winter. Contractors are generally very busy in the summer but might be willing to give you a discount if you schedule work for the winter — at least here, in Philadelphia. It may be different in a warm city like San Diego. Ask your contractor when work is generally slow and ask for a discount if you postpone the work until then.
5. Be nice. If you treat your contractor and the staff respectfully, he will remember this when the opportunity arises to go the extra mile for you.
6. Be ‘good pay.’ A client who is “good pay” is one who pays when the contract stipulates, without needing to be reminded or convinced. This works similar to the previous tip: If the contractor feels that you are not the type to try to stiff him, he will be more comfortable going out on a limb for you.
7. Focus on what you need. Do you really need that cutting-edge pot filler or super expensive backsplash tile? Scale back and cut out the fluff when you can — with a little extra work, it’s possible to find less-expensive but still high-quality products.
8. Barter. If you have a valuable skill or a vacation home, you may be able to barter for some of the cost of your remodel. Your contractor will still have to pay taxes on payment delivered this way, but it means less out-of-pocket cash for both of you. I have bartered my services for art and pottery before, and it worked out great.
9. Don’t do everything now. Stage or downscale the project. Before budget becomes a driving factor, we often get carried away and want to change everything. If there are parts of the project you could do another time without added cost, wait on those. Staging different parts of the project will allow you to save up more money beforehand.
10. Do some of the work yourself. If you want to bring up this option with your contractor, be careful to stay out of his way while doing your own work. Maybe you can install the floating cork floor after the room is built but before the finish carpenters and painters come in — you could even do it on a weekend so there’s no disruption to the contractor’s schedule. Not everyone will be open to this type of arrangement, but it doesn’t hurt to ask.