There are four words you need to banish from your vocabulary when remodeling old homes: “While you’re at it…” 

These four simple words could be the difference between sticking to your budget and forking out thousands of dollars more than you need to. It doesn’t mean you should cheap out either.

You just have to be smart about it. With the right amount of strategic planning, timing, materials, and design you can cut the costs of your remodeling project without having to cut corners. 

We’ve put together 9 valuable tips for remodeling old homes that will save you both money and your sanity. Read on.

1. Create a Realistic Budget

When remodeling an old home, it goes without saying that the first thing you need to do is create a budget. If you’re not careful, renovating a fixer-upper can easily break the bank.

So first, you’ll need to take time to decide how much you’re willing to spend. Next, create a remodeling costs spreadsheet and assign every single dollar of your budget. Some of the things you can include are the cost of materials you’ll use, cost of labor and any taxes you may have to pay to the state.

2. Work with a Credible Contractor

Before you embark on renovating an old home ensure you bring a credible contractor on board. Look for a company that has experience in remodeling old homes.

The last thing you need is to fork over thousands of dollars to a team that has no clue what they are doing. Request for references before you settle on a specific contractor.

3. DIY If You Can

Yep, you read right. If you have a great renovation idea, you can DIY your home remodeling project.

This might be a bit of a stretch but we are looking to save money here. Unless you happen to be a licensed professional don’t attempt to do any of the complex stuff.

So leave out things like plumbing, electrical works, HVAC roofing, choosing between uPVC or Aluminium, or any structural repairs. That’s for the professionals.

You can do the tiling, painting, and landscaping yourself. Get your friends and family to help.

4. Don’t Replace, Just Update

When renovating houses you might be tempted to replace everything like old fixtures and outdated tiles. If your wallet allows it then go for it.

But, if you’re on a limited budget like the rest of us, try updating instead of replacing things. A fresh coat of paint can breathe new life into an old antique cabinet.

Get your creative juices flowing. You can go online to check for renovating ideas and inspiration on how you can salvage old items.

5. Barter Services

We are all about saving money right? So why wouldn’t you barter your services in exchange for getting some work done on an old home?

Maybe you’re a website designer and you need some plumbing work done on your fixer-upper. You could convince a plumber to do the work for free.

In exchange, you would create a professional website for them to market their services. It’s win-win for everyone.

6. Timing Is Everything When You’re Remodeling Old Homes

If you want to save money on your remodeling project you need to time it just right. Wait for annual and clearance sales from stores that carry the materials and supplies you’ll need for your project.

You have to be patient though. You might not be able to complete the entire project at one go depending on when the individual suppliers hold their sales.

Suppose there’s a 20%-off sale on kitchen cabinets in March and a 50%-off clearance sale on floor tiles in August. You’ll have to wait a couple of months before you can continue with the project. It’s well worth the wait if it’s going to save you thousands of bucks.

7. Get Used Items for Your Renovation

Craigslist is a great source of “curb alerts”. There are lots of contractors who do curb alerts when they’re done with a project and don’t want the inconvenience of having to transport the materials to a dump site.

You’ll be amazed at the kind of stuff you’ll find there. We know someone who scored a vanity and faucet for free!

You can also visit your local Habitat for Humanity ReStore. You’ll find lots of salvaged materials at half the price you would ordinarily purchase them for at home centers.

8. If It Walks like a Duck

Imitations that can pass for the real thing will save you loads of cash plus they just make sense. For instance, the cost of installing hardwood flooring is monumental. Consider getting ceramic or porcelain tiles that come in a myriad of faux-finishes that look like the real thing at a fraction of the cost.

9. Demolish the Whole House

The phrase most old-home owners dread to hear. But, it’s important to call it like it is. Sometimes, after crunching the numbers the cost of remodeling an old home vs. reproducing it afresh might be in the same ballpark.

If for a relatively small additional cost you can rebuild the same house and get all the perks of a new home, why wouldn’t you? Sometimes gutting a house is the best alternative to remodeling it.

The Bottom Line About Old Home Remodeling

If you’re lucky enough to own a mid-century home it’s a labor of love to restore it to its original magnificence. Remodeling old homes require you to find the right balance between preserving its authenticity and character while enjoying all the modern conveniences every home should have.

Use the tips in this guide to help you do just that when you’re on a budget. Check out our blog for more home improvement advice.