Do you watch the DIY Network show “10 Grand in Your Hand”? It’s a great program for anyone who is considering a renovation and wants to learn how to save money on the project by doing things yourself. I love host John DeSilvia’s no-nonsense approach to projects, and, frankly his Brooklyn accent–it brings me back to my New York roots.
“10 Grand in Your Hand,” for which we now have a season pass on Tivo, has become, well, handy because it’s timely for us now. Currently, we are having an extension put on our home, plus we’re renovating existing areas of the house. And though we’ve hired a contractor to handle the extension, we were able to negotiate discounts with him by doing some of the demo and grunt work ourselves. In addition, while the extension is being completed, we are gutting our kitchen, too, and plan to redo that as well on our own.
Recently, I sat down to add up and see if, with all of our elbow grease and sweat equity, we really have put 10 grand in our hand. Here’s how those numbers add up for us.
The contractor wanted to charge us about $2,400 to demo the upstairs bathroom–the one my daughters use. Doing it ourselves meant not only getting rid of a cast-iron tub but also a “vintage” blue toilet, removing the vanity, and taking down drywall so the room was down to studs. A sledge hammer took care of the tub, but we were able to carefully remove the vanity and sell it on Craigslist for $20. So we made money on the deal.
Money Saved in Bathroom: $2,420
Painting New Space
Our contractor advised us to paint a water seal on the walls of the first floor of our renovation, which is built into the side of a hill and constructed like a basement out of concrete block. If he were going to do it for us, it would have taken a day of his time (when he could be doing things like framing the roof or backfilling the foundation) and cost us $300 plus the cost of materials. I bought enough DryLok Masonry Waterproof Paint at my local hardware store, spending about $110, and took a day and half to paint the whole thing. In addition, we are painting the entire interior of the new space ourselves once the drywall is finished, saving us on those fees, too.
Money Saved with Painting: $900
Reusing Kitchen Cabinetry
With the average minor kitchen remodel costing just under $18,000, there was no way my husband and I could afford that kind of dough–especially after laying out cash for our addition. So like the bathroom upstairs, we did the demo ourselves. Here’s another costs savings–reusing the existing cabinetry, especially since new cabinets account for about 50% of a kitchen renovation’s cost. These cabinets are all custom made and, except for a couple of decades of grease and grime, in great shape. We plan to degrease them, sand them and repaint them in a milk paint white to match our home farmhouse interior. Best of all we won’t have to spend a dime on new cabinets–only on new paint and new hardware.
Money Saved by Reusing Kitchen Cabinets: $9,000
Shopped Around for Appliances
Like most modern kitchens we want ours to look as up-to-date as possible. And that meant replacing the poop-brown, circa 1970s appliance with new stainless steel ones. Of course, stainless steel can be pricey, but I felt confident that if we shopped around, we could find a good price. In fact, on one “10 Grand in Your Hand” show DeSilvia recommended regularly visiting an appliance store’s dent-and-scratch room because that’s where you can find great deals. Just last week my shopping around paid off: I found a slightly dented but not scratched stainless steel refrigerator, in the biggest size possible for a “standard” side by side, for only $700. Yes, you read that right, only $700. Who gets appliances for that cheap? Considering the same refrigerator in perfect condition at the same store retailed for nearly double that price–$1,398–I’d say I scored quite a savings.
Money Saved on Appliances: $698
So what does that add up to? Well, we’ve definitely got at least 10 grand in our hand. In fact, with these four examples alone, we found a way to save $13,018. And this doesn’t even include the money we’re going to save by having my husband put down the hardwood floors in the addition instead of hiring a flooring guy, or how we’re going to look at granite (or other kinds of stone) countertop remnants to save money there instead of custom ordering the countertop. All together these are some pretty sweet savings.
How about you? What kind of tricks do you use to save money when fixing up your house?