How I saved over $70,000 on my renovation because: I want to pay off my house ASAP!

Nov 14 2016
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With the full house renovation that we just survived (my now ex husband and I) we did LITERALLY 98% of the work from top to bottom. That includes (but is not limited to) fully gutting it entirely and removing walls/adding beams where we needed to, putting in all new plumbing throughout for three bathrooms and two kitchens, installing sixteen all new windows, four brand new exterior doors and five interior doors, building all of the new framing, running all new electrical throughout, putting on all new siding, building a brand new two car garage, refinishing the floors that were here and installing new floors where we needed to, hung and then taped all of the sheet rock and we did all of the painting and trim throughout. My estimate at the end of the renovation was that Joe and I saved over $60,000 in labor costs alone and another $10,000 on all of my purchases.

All of the tips and tricks I learned along the way renovating our house to save over 70,000 on the 15 month renovation on our 100 year old home.

All of the lights in my entire home cost us less then $500 – that’s three floors (2,400 square feet!) of lighting and my outdoor lights too! Literally my entire lighting budget is what most people would have probably planned to spend on one or two chandeliers. With a Menards sale I got all of my recessed can lights (18 of them) for only $40. There were also two cool yard lights that were here that I used over my kitchen sink and master bathroom sink so: FREE. I chose these lights from Home Depot for the rooms that couldn’t use the recessed lights and they’re only $7 a piece! (There would be no boobie lights in any home of mine – and those lights from home depot averaged half the cost of the cheapest boobie light – who knew!) After that, I only had two chandeliers to buy (one for the dining room and one for my master bedroom) and they were each less then $100 a piece. Yes, having a chandelier above my bed was a little bit of splurge but I thought I deserved it!

All of the tips and tricks I learned along the way renovating our house to save over 70,000 on the 15 month renovation on our 100 year old home.

Most of the hardwood floors in my house were here except for my entry/dining room and my extra bedroom. Doing it ourselves (laying the new floor and refinishing the old) Ispent less then $500 throughout and that’s pretty good for 2,000 square feet of flooring! πŸ™‚ To see what we used and how easy it was to install you can check out my post about my floors here: How to: install an inexpensive wood floor that looks like a million dollars and also my post about standing and staining them all! I saved a fortune with my trim by using the same 1x4s that I used on the new floor for all of my trim too!

All of the tips and tricks I learned along the way renovating our house to save over 70,000 on the 15 month renovation on our 100 year old home.

I built my entire kitchen from the ground up, every cabinet, EVERYTHING including the sink base. I figured I would have spent over $5,000 on new cabinets but because I built them and used a lot of scrap lumber from the renovation, they only cost about $300. I also made my own butcher block counter tops with salvaged wood that I found in the barn so I saved at least $1,000 not having to buy even the cheapest of counter tops. My appliances (stove, microwave, dishwasher, refrigerator and washer/dryer combo unit) were all from a certified LG scratch and dent store, they are all β€œbrand new” with warranties. The overall cost would have normally been over $6,000 and I only spent $3,000. There has been a lot written about on-demand-hot-water heaters and I do believe (now that I’m paying my electric bill) that I made the right choice in buying one as it really has not cost very much to run and it was very easy for us to install.

All of the tips and tricks I learned along the way renovating our house to save over 70,000 on the 15 month renovation on our 100 year old home.

I figured because both of my bathroom vanities were free I saved at least $600 there. The master bathroom sink and faucet/drain I splurged on but still spent less then $150 – read my post about converting that buffet into my master bathroom vanity. Also, check out the post about how I converted a dresser into my main floor vanity. The 36” shower in my master bathroom I purchased as a β€œsecond” from a local company for only $200! That is a savings right there of at least $800. The tub in my Master Bathroom I splurged on, however I got it on sale for $599 down from $799 at Menards. My tub’s faucet was actually a kitchen faucet and cost me only $69 at my local fleet store, I bought the same one for my kitchen sink too because I liked it so much. My main floor bathroom sink faucet I bought on Amazon here for only $14. And, instead of splurging on the fan/heater combos for the bathrooms I bought basic bathroom fans from Menards for only $13 a piece.

All of the tips and tricks I learned along the way renovating our house to save over 70,000 on the 15 month renovation on our 100 year old home.Make money by shopping online by using Ebates!

The truth is guys that if you want to see real savings, you’ve got to do it yourself! These days labor adds up to over HALF of the cost of everything. And you certainly don’t have to do the big scary jobs like the electrical and plumbing, even if all you do is the demolition and hauling away you can save a lot of money! Ideally you can find someone you can work with and pay hourly to help you as you go. I found a local couple of brothers to shingle the side of my roof that needed it and then found I could call on them from time to time to do other jobs that I didn’t have the time or the confidence to tackle like installing my garage doors and installing my plumbing vent in the roof. They also helped us put up my garage!

All of the tips and tricks I learned along the way renovating our house to save over 70,000 on the 15 month renovation on our 100 year old home.

My biggest note of advice: Here’s where I tripped up badly during the renovation and I know, deep down, I probably lost us over $8,000 if not a lot more money then that. I didn’t always double check prices on everything. There were so many many many times that I just sprinted to the most convenient store and bought what I needed when I needed it and sprinted back to whatever I was working on without comparing the cost to the hardware store down the road, or the fleet store in my home town, or my local salvage depot, or my local S&L Outlet, or one of my three local lumber yards. So many times since the renovation I’ll be somewhere, see a product, and just get sick to my stomach knowing how much MORE I spent for it somewhere else. If you’re willing to do the leg work you can save an absolute fortune just making sure to always get yourself the best deal. Also, never assume big box stores are always cheaper then the small hardware stores or fleet stores or lumber yards. Once you start really comparing prices and doing the work to find out, you will be STUNNED how many products Menards (or Home Depot or Lowes) sells for almost DOUBLE what some of your local stores sell it for. And online prices only get you so far you really have to GO TO the store and SEE the prices to know for sure what price you’ll be getting or you need to call them and that, my friends, becomes hella tedious really fast… Especially when all you need is β€œa few plumbing parts”… which I did… about thirty eight thousand times over the course of the whole renovation. I couldn’t imagine driving to every store to compare prices every time I bought a part… but I know I lost a lot of money along the way because I did not do that.

All of the tips and tricks I learned along the way renovating our house to save over 70,000 on the 15 month renovation on our 100 year old home.

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  1. November 15, 2016 at 11:07 am

    Wow that was one informative post, Tara. Thank you so much for all of that info. You are absolutely right about everything. If we have the ability to do it ourselves then we should. I have a house that needs a lot of work but I just don’t have the time right now, although i know at some point I’ll have to do a lot of work.

    The only thing I will say to make you feel better about your mistake of not checking all the prices before hand is that you can actually spend a bit of money on gas running around all over the place to check the prices. Especially if the stores are not all nearby. Don’t sweat it. You saved a ton of money and now you have a gorgeous home to enjoy.

    • November 15, 2016 at 3:39 pm

      Hi Mary, time is always such a huge factor if I’ve learned anything doing it ourselves it always takes twice as long as we expect it to! Thank you for your sweet comment πŸ™‚

  2. November 15, 2016 at 10:25 pm

    That is amazing! If you can do it and save why not? I always try to shop around, when I don’t I feel guilty too. I’m with Mary sometimes saving time and gas can be worth what you would have spent. Oh how I wish I had a truck for every sale I see! Then again, maybe it is best I don’t or I would end up buying things I don’t need! I love Menard’s they have great prices, we don’t have one here though. A faucet for $14 is a steal! Thanks for sharing!

    • November 16, 2016 at 3:41 pm

      Renee, thank you so much for the thoughtful comment! You’re so right, sometimes I forget about the time and gas I would have spent running all over the place. I tried so hard to figure out everything we would need and buy everything at once but I learned really quick that during any big DIY project or renovation that is just plain impossible! Thanks again!

  3. Sherri
    November 17, 2016 at 2:40 pm

    This is why I love reading your blog! I follow a lot of blogs that are “on a budget”, then they splurge on a $1,000 rug or $4,000 couch, uh no… It is so refreshing to see young couples work so hard and stretch their dollar! Keep up the good work!

    • November 17, 2016 at 3:02 pm

      Sherri, I know it! I guess some people’s idea of “on a budget” is very different then mine! lol

  4. December 7, 2016 at 4:17 am

    You are an amazing builder AND shopper Tarah! Wow–$70,000, that’s just crazy. You’ve done such an outstanding job with all of your renovations and decorating; you should be very proud of yourself (and your husband, of course πŸ™‚ ). Thanks so much for linking up with Vintage Charm–it’s a delight to have you at the party–

  5. Linda Lentz
    January 7, 2017 at 5:51 am

    I am loving the kitchen and I want to try it! Wish me luck!!

    • January 9, 2017 at 5:27 pm

      Good luck Linda! Thank you so much for coming by!

  6. January 17, 2017 at 7:03 pm

    That is quite the transformation! Well done on the renovation, and some great tips to help others save.

  7. Jann Olson
    January 18, 2017 at 4:08 am

    Doing things yourself is such a money saver! Hubby and I have always been diyer’s. Even now, when we can afford it we do many of our own projects. Now and then we turn it over to someone younger. πŸ™‚ Thanks for sharing with SYC.

    • January 18, 2017 at 3:58 pm

      Thanks Jann, it is amazing how much money can be saved just delegating a few things to doing it yourselves!

  8. January 18, 2017 at 8:30 pm

    I wish I had one drop of the talent you do . You have done so many great improvements. Congrats! Thank you for sharing at #OverTheMoon!

  9. January 19, 2017 at 2:16 pm

    Some great advice here! Thanks for sharing on the Pleasures of the NW’s DIY party!

    • January 19, 2017 at 3:45 pm

      Thanks for commenting Helen!

  10. January 26, 2017 at 2:29 am

    What bargains you have found, and it is all looking fantastic! Thanks so much for sharing at Celebrate Your Story!

  11. January 27, 2017 at 3:00 am

    That really is incredible savings! I wish we were more handy. We have no power saws (or room for them), but there are so many times I wish we did. We could have saved so much! Thanks again for sharing at the #happynowlinkup!

    • January 30, 2017 at 5:08 pm

      Power saw definitely help! I wouldn’t have been able to do much on the renovation without my miter saw and my husband got me a table saw for my birthday a couple of years ago πŸ™‚ We’re lucky we have our basement though for enough room for them! Thanks for commenting, have a great week!

  12. February 4, 2017 at 9:26 am

    Your kitchen looks so nice! These are some amazing tips. One can really save up lots of money.

  13. February 5, 2017 at 1:15 am

    Great article! Love to read about renovation. Thanks for sharing at Funtastic Friday.

  14. February 5, 2017 at 7:49 am

    Wow! You guys are really DIY Reno Rock Stars! I could never ever pull this off, I wish though, because what a sweet savings! Congratulations, I love all of your projects and you must be so so proud of your home!! Thank you for always linking up to Sweet Inspiration, have a lovely Sunday!

    • February 6, 2017 at 4:06 pm

      Thank you so much Katrin, I so appreciate you hosting the party for us bloggers every week! Have a great day!

  15. February 11, 2017 at 7:43 pm

    Such a great post! πŸ™‚

    I would love for you to share this with my Facebook Group for recipes, crafts, tips, and tricks:

    Thanks for joining Cooking and Crafting with J & J!

  16. February 12, 2017 at 6:59 pm

    Amazing work you two have been doing. Congrats on a great affordable Reno! Thanks for sharing at Home Sweet Home.

  17. February 15, 2017 at 5:52 pm

    I love this project! I love old things, especially the ones that were my grandma’s or great aunts. The memories you are preserving, and renovating …just so cool. And I love that you are a bargain hunter. High five, from another gal obsessed with a bargain and the thrift store.
    Happy Wednesday, from the Wine’d Down Wednesday linkup.

    • February 16, 2017 at 3:28 pm

      Thanks Megs! The renovation was a ton of work but I’m so glad we did most of it ourselves, I feel like we preserved so much more of the home then would have been kept otherwise!

  18. February 20, 2017 at 6:31 pm

    Thanks for sharing the tips Tarah. DIY’ing saves alot of money. My husband fixes and makes a lot of stuff for us. Come back and join us again at Family Joy Blog linkup.

    • February 21, 2017 at 3:56 pm

      Thank you Char! I’ll be there!

  19. November 19, 2017 at 1:55 am

    Pinning and sharing! What a fantastic accomplishment! Everything looks beautiful, and your hints and tips will really help anyone who is working on renovations themselves. Thank you so much for sharing, and for being a part of the Hearth and Soul Link party.

    • November 20, 2017 at 3:14 pm

      Thank you so much April! Have a great week!

  20. January 4, 2018 at 4:13 am

    Wow, that was a lot of work! It must give you a huge sense of accomplishment, not to mention the money you saved.

    Thank you for sharing on the Homestead Blog Hop.

    • January 4, 2018 at 4:52 pm

      Thanks Bonnie, have a great weekend!

  21. August 24, 2018 at 10:38 am

    I’m afraid of doing my own home renovations because I might end up spending more with fixing the mess I’d eventually make. We’re moving to a new place in a couple of months and the contractors are definitely not cheap. Reading your blog inspired me to do the renovation myself (well with my husband too that is). Wish me luck! Thanks for sharing!

    • August 27, 2018 at 9:59 am

      Hi Abbey, it definitely can be scary, just take it one step at a time and remember, everything is truly fixable. And there is absolutely no shame in hiring professional if a job makes you nervous! There are TONS of jobs in a renovation that don’t require taking a leap of faith but will save you a bunch if you do them yourself.

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