Long time readers will remember previous stories about my friend Eva. She is a full time mommy, a part time media broker, and is in the process of adding successful online business owner to her growing list of job titles. She does more in a day than I do in a week. Last time I wrote about Eva it included a story about her oldest boy Jude. He recently turned two years old and is growing up so fast.
Jude is adorable. He instantly takes my hand and leads me to his room to show me all his toys each time I come over to visit. Plus he is too cute for words. A future heartbreaker for sure…
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Thankfully his parents don’t have to worry about that for a few more years. Although at this moment I must say he is more of a monster than a heart throb. One of his favorite past times is throwing Daddy’s personal affects into their pool. Luke, his dad, told me Jude threw his Blackberry, the TV remote, and the dog bowl into their pool during the last week alone!
He also told me that Jude loves putting his toys in the toilet. Last week the little rascal flushed enough toys down the toilet to flood the entire first floor bathroom; ruining the wood floors and cabinets, and completely destroying the toilet.
Now Luke and Eva find themselves unexpectedly in the market for a bathroom renovation. Renovation costs vary by scope and state but the average bathroom renovation will run you about $6,000. You won’t be able to find that many pennies under any sofa cushion, no matter how hard you look.
While I can’t offer my closest friends any monetary support I can offer them my advice. I searched the far and wide for information, guidance and suggestions I could pass onto the young parents to help them get through this home repair, spending as little money as possible. Here are the suggestions I emailed Eva:
Suggestion #1: Do your homework before you make any calls.
You cannot get the best deal on a renovation project if you don’t know what a good deal is in the first place. Do a simple internet search for the average cost of the renovation project you are thinking about. Costs can vary wildly by state and choice of materials so try to factor in those things. This is important because establishing a budget is the first step in the renovation process.
I like http://www.building-cost.net/ because it provides calculators and software to help users estimate costs and see what terms and conditions should and should not be put into a contract.
Once you’ve researched an appropriate budget and decided you can afford to move forward you need to find a contractor. Which takes me to my second suggestion…
Suggestion #2: Always get AT LEAST three quotes.
Actually the more the better. This bit of advice you will undoubtedly have heard before, but the point I want to make to you, may be less well known. The reason you get numerous bids is not only so you can find the lowest price possible, but also so you can start a bidding war. This puts you in the driver’s seat. You want contractors and builders to fight to gain your business. Once you get an initial set of quotes send the lowest bid to the other contractors to solicit an even lower bid. Ask them to match it or beat it and why you should choose them over the competition. Letting contractors know they are competing for your business will bring out their best offers.
Suggestion # 3: Familiarize yourself with cost of materials
The cost of materials will make up the majority of your budget no matter what room you are renovating or building. For kitchen renovations, cabinets and countertops can consume more than 50% of your overall budget. That’s why it’s important to get to know what things cost. Ask the contractors who are preparing bids for you to break down their costs in each category so you can educate yourself on the cost of materials. Then compare material costs between all the vendors. If one vendor is charging you more for materials inform them that other contractors are giving you better deals in that area. Often you can bring down prices to rock bottom when you pit vendor against vendor.
An additional strategy that may save you money is to go to a wholesaler to get your own materials. Contractors always mark-up material costs, it’s one of the ways they make money. In order to accurately quote you a fair bid, contractors will take measurements of the pieces you wish to renovate. Ask the contractors for those measurements and take them to any wholesalers to see if you can get a cheaper price. If so ask your contractor to only quote you on labor and installation prices.
Suggestion # 4: Shop Online For Bargains.
The cheapest deal you are going to find at traditional brick and mortar stores will be in the clearance section. And once there you will quickly see why certain items are in the clearance section. Most likely because some pieces are so ugly no one wants to buy them, no matter how good of a deal they are. I am all about saving money, but I also want to make sure I get the biggest bang for my buck. It’s not really worth saving money if I can’t be proud of it afterwards. I don’t want to renovate a bathroom only to have it come out looking like I did it with pieces that were popular 20 years ago.
I’ve found that the internet comes in handy when searching for a great deal. You can find great deals on top quality items like chandeliers, lighting, ceiling fans, doors, and other accessories by surfing through discount sites like Ebay and Craigslist.
Suggestion # 5: Consider Timing.
Timing your renovation project has a lot to do with your ability to negotiate and save money. If possible begin renovations during off peak times for that particular remodeling job. Interior renovations are at their peak in the months leading up to the end of the year, because homeowners want the insides of their homes ready for holiday parties and festivities. Try starting a kitchen, bath or other interior renovation in the months after Christmas. January through March is best. Similarly, exterior renovations hit their peak during the summer months. You are more likely to negotiate a cheaper price in the fall or winter when contractors have reduced workloads and must work harder to win jobs.
Suggestion # 6: Combine Jobs
You may have a hard time finding a quality contractor if you are only planning on renovating a small space or have a small budget. That’s because small jobs tend to have smaller margins for contractors. If a vendor feels they can’t make sufficient money on a job, then the less likely they are to give you a fair price on it. If this is the case try talking to your neighbors to see if they are planning any home renovation projects. If a vendor can do two jobs at the same time they are more likely to take on your smaller project. This saves you money and ensures the vendor makes enough profit to be satisfied.
I must admit that my motivations for writing this article are somewhat self-serving. As you may recall, I recently wrote about wanting to install a pool in my backyard. While my renovation is not in the financial cards yet (I haven’t saved enough pennies yet to afford it) I did want to know what to expect. When it’s finally my turn to get a backyard oasis I feel confident I will be able to tackle the renovation like a seasoned pro. I hope you feel more confident about taking on a home renovation project now too.
Good luck and be sure to keep me informed of your home renovation experiences!
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