Cheap Home Improvements

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Cheap Home Improvements - Living Frugal Tips

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Cheap home improvements are possible in any family.

Learn how to get Lowe's and Home Depot discounts and tips on living frugal while remodeling or making home repairs.

Plus, info on how to get a building supplies discount for your projects!

It's time to learn home improvement on a dime.

Yes, there are ways you can save drastic amounts of money off home repairs and upgrades, and we're going to talk about them.

So roll up your sleeves and let's get down and dirty as we come up with living frugal methods of cheap home improvements!

Are you new here? This page is part of the $5,000 Money Saving Mama Challenge. We'd love for you to join us!

Simply click the link for more information on how you can participate, and save some money this year.

Living Frugal - Do It Yourself

Labor is generally the biggest expense in any home improvement project. While there are ways to get a building supplies discount, the real savings comes from doing it yourself instead of paying someone else to do it for you. So what types of projects can moms and dads handle on their own, frugally, without outside help? Probably more projects than you think. In fact, aside from putting on an addition to your home, or installing windows or a pool, with the right mindset and time, you could probably tackle any home improvement project.

A very good cheap home improvements starter project for the would-be do-it-yourselfer is painting. Painting the interior of your home is a project anyone can do, and is a relatively inexpensive way to completely change the feel of your home.

One way to save money on paint is to buy what is called "oops" paint at Home Depot or Lowes (great way to get Home Depot discounts.) Oops paint is sold when customers change their minds about purchasing paint they had mixed, or when employees make a mistake mixing a customer's order. As you can imagine, it comes in all colors.

Now, while you may get lucky and find a color that you fall in love with, in exactly the right amount for your project, a better way to utilize this savings is to use a light colored oops paint as a base-coat primer and put your desired color on top.

Of course, don't stop at painting the walls! My parents wanted to remodel a 30 year old kitchen in the home they had recently purchased, but after paying for new appliances did not have the money to buy all new kitchen cabinets. So they painted them! They decided to go with a clean white color, and put four coats of paint on. It took quite a bit of effort, but it looks magnificent. With the money they saved, they were able to replace the old countertops with granite and put in a magnificent sink. Talk about cheap home improvements!

You can order new cabinet doors and hardware from Lowe's or Home Depot when you paint your cabinets. These small additions go a long way towards upgrading a look.

Tile and flooring is another place that the do-it-yourselfer can save. My husband and I redid our floor by replacing carpet and putting down linoleum. My parents put in hardwood floors themselves.

And get the kids involved. When mine were 8 & 10 we participated in a week-long workshop where we built a cob home. My 10 yr old son loved asking questions and really helped a lot. (My daughter spent most of her time climbing trees and playing in the dirt.) By the time we were finished, he could mix a batch of cob himself and set a window!

Cheap Home Improvements - How to Learn What You Don't Know

Of course, most of this sounds easy to those who have grown up around it, or to moms who have a crafty husband. But for those who have no experience whatsoever, it can all seem pretty intimidating. So how do you learn what you need to know to tackle your next home improvement project?

First, make sure you head down to Home Depot and Lowe's. They have incredibly valuable resources these days. Both publish a master DIY book with step-by-step instructions on common home improvement tasks, as a well as specialty books on specific remodels.

And make sure you check out the classes in your area! From the basics of painting to how-to tile your bathroom, most home improvement stores have got training workshops. Many have "women-only" classes for the mom whose husband works long hours and is not available for many cheap home improvements. (Also, Lowe's and Home Depot have monthly kids' workshops where the kids can build something. It's a fun, free crafting activity. Check it out.)

The employees at your local Home Depot and Lowe's can be extremely valuable resources as well. Many have been hired specifically for their knowledge in their department, so if you are having a problem with a clogged drain or want to know about water efficient toilets, ask! They are (usually) all too willing to help you out.

Of course, you can also come online to get cheap home improvements project ideas and instructions. There are some great home improvement sites out there; all it takes is a desire to sit down and figure it all out. And if you work best with one-on-one instruction? You can always hire a contractor to teach you what you need to know. Sure, it will cost a more, but it will be a lot less than hiring them to do the entire project. Or, volunteer with an organization such as Habitat for Humanity. Not only will you be helping those in your community, but you'll also be learning valuable money-saving skills!

Where to Get a Building Supplies Discount

There are many living frugal strategies for saving money on supplies. First, if you want a great building supplies discount, buy off season. If you plan on replacing your air conditioner this summer, shop for it in January, and do heater shopping in summer. Off-season discounts could be substantial savings.

Keep your eyes peeled in the clearance sections of Home Depot and Lowes. They often offer products that were special ordered and then returned for pennies on the dollar. Also, they discount large items like appliances with scratches on the sides or cabinets, even if the scratch occurs in a place that is not visible once installed.

And even if you are not planning on getting started with your cheap home improvements project immediately, it can pay off to take advantage of these types of deals when you find them, storing the materials in your garage until you’ve acquired all the materials to do the project cheaply.

Want Home Depot discounts? Lowe's and Home Depot also publish 10% off coupons that you can sometimes get when you fill out a change of address form at the post office, or join their mailing lists for new customers. If you get the coupon for Lowe's but not Home Depot, but prefer Home Depot, both stores will take each others' coupons. And both stores price match one another, offering a 10% price match guarantee. So if Home Depot advertises your dream fridge in their sales flyer at a fantastic price, bring the flyer to Lowe's and save an additional 10%.

And you don't have to buy your building materials brand new. Don't be afraid to check garage sales and flea markets for left-over supplies from would-be DIYers who never completed their projects, or had leftovers. Craigslist is also a great source, and often you can get stuff free. A couple years ago, my husband and I acquired two bathtubs, kitchen and bathroom sinks, blinds, windows, doors, roof trusses, drywall, cement board, lumber, and even a working hot water heater, totally free, off Craigslist. All we had to do was go and pick it up!

And don't discount your local Habitat for Humanity resell store. You can get fabulous deals on new and used materials while supporting a great cause. Also, occasional, US Treasury auctions will have building materials.

If you do end up hiring a contractor, save money by buying your own supplies, instead of having the contractor mark them up. You can also help with the project (thereby reducing the labor costs) by handling demolition and clean up. Make sure that when you hire a contractor you have written bids on your project from at least three sources, and compare. Don’t be afraid to let them compete with one another over prices to get your business.

But most importantly, really examine the need to do your home improvement project in the first place. Don't take out a home equity loan or put the cost on your credit cards, adding to your debt. There are few projects that are financially worth debt for those living frugal. Instead, make plans, and acquire both your knowledge/skills and your capital for the project at the same time, the frugal way, so you can enjoy your improvements without the guilt of overspending.

Sneak Peak at Next Week

Like this section on cheap home improvements? Next week we'll talk about how to save money house cleaning. We'll go over how to make laundry soap and household cleaners, how to get discounts on buying these supplies, and more.

Not part of our $5,000 Money Saving Mama challenge? Sign up for updates below so you don't miss even a single money-saving week.

How Much Will These Cheap Home Improvements Save You?

I'd love to hear how you are coming with your frugal and free challenge.

What home improvement projects have you tackled on your own?

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