How to Save on the Cost of Your Home Remodel

A number of years ago, we had our home remodeled. We had done our homework and found a terrific contractor who came highly recommended. This contractor was honest, reliable, and reasonable, and best of all, showed us the secrets of how to save money on a home remodeling job.

Whether our homes are 30 years old or 100, at some point, things break down and need to be replaced. Some projects are cosmetic, such as replacing a floor or a counter. Others are more involved, and require ripping into walls, ceilings, and sub flooring.

These types of repairs are very expensive; not only are there demolition and hauling costs involved, the remodeling contractor really doesn’t know what to expect behind the walls. Most will bid on the high side to cover any contingencies and unwelcome surprises.

How can a homeowner save money on a remodel?

According to our contractor, a homeowner can easily shave between 20 to 30% off a home remodeling project by simply doing his own demolition and prep work, and keeping the site clean through out the project. Not only does this save on labor costs, the newly exposed walls and floor gives contractors a clean view into the area, taking the guesswork out of the project.

This is a significant part of the budget, and well worth doing if time isn’t an issue. However, this sort of partnership only works if you have the time and are willing to work on the contractor’s schedule. Remodeling contractors have their employees tightly scheduled; failure to perform throws everyone off the entire schedule and can cause serious delays.

What kind of demolition can a homeowner do?

Some demolition projects are simpler than others, while some require skilled professionals. If your house is an old one, chances are you have asbestos tiles under the old floors of your bathroom and kitchen. Asbestos tile removal is something that needs to be handled by an abatement team. Likewise, old ducts and pipes hidden behind the walls can be wrapped with asbestos as well.

Also to avoid are plumbing, electricity, and the furnace systems; these are areas that can do significant amounts of damage to the home if demolished incorrectly. Your remodeling contractor will have a good instinct as to what a homeowner is capable of doing and what areas that should be avoided.

In most cases, homeowners are perfectly capable of these simple, though occasionally time consuming tasks:

Removing old cabinets and counter tops;
removing sections of wall and ceiling;
tearing out old tile on kitchen and bathroom walls;
hauling out old carpet or ripping up areas of dry rot in hardwood floors;
removing shower stalls and old bathtubs once plumbing has been capped;
removing ceramic or pottery floor tile;
and pulling out windows and unhinging doors.

Again, the partnership only works if you stick to schedule, do a complete and thorough job, remove all nails, haul off the rubble, vacuum the dust, and properly prepare the site. Do it yourself demolition isn’t the only way you can money on a home remodel project. Our contractor also suggested the following areas:

Install your own rolled insulation

If you have exposed walls in the house, this is the time to add some insulation. Home improvement stores sell insulation rolls that are easy for the do-it-yourselfer to install.


While most people would be leery of tackling an exterior paint job, painting the inside of a home might not be as intimidating. Let the contractor know you wish to do the painting yourself, and he’ll put you on the schedule in between the window guys and the flooring installation team.

Clean up

At the end of the day, a good contractor will spend the better part of an hour cleaning up the mess he created. This time is usually factored into the bid and in many cases, the contractor will discount the job if you do the cleaning and haul off the trash yourself.

Remodeling a home can be an expensive, time consuming and emotional draining task. But by doing some of these easy do-it-yourself tasks, you can at least make the job more affordable.

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