Where to Save on Home Improvement


Blame it on Fixer Upper (a licensed and experienced contractor, mind you), but just because they make it look easy on TV, doesn’t mean it’s easy in real life. Cutting corners or trying to DIY projects for home improvement you have no experience in can cost you in the long run. But we all want to save money, especially when talking about the significant cost of home improvement. Here’s where you can responsibly save money in a home improvement project.


Purchasing your own materials. Taking the time to research products and go out of your way to purchase them (after speaking with your contractor about these options) can often save you a significant portion of money. This works for things like paint, appliances, cabinetry, fixtures, bathroom tile or other flooring, but not for things like roofing, siding, and HVAC, which are best purchased by your specialized licensed contractor.


Haggle with your contractor. Be open about your budget and discuss ways to work with your contractor about the areas where you can save money. If your contractor’s timeline is flexible, ask about DIY options within your plan. Your contractor could potentially move to a different project while you complete tasks such as painting. Another way to save is to be responsible for cleaning up the site at the end of every day. And make sure to check your contractor’s website for possible coupons or rebates.


The Most Expensive Contractor is Often the Cheapest. Beware of super low bids and get references. Nothing is more expensive than hiring the wrong contractor, who then abandons your project with your money.


Doing it Wrong is also Expensive. Even if it seems right, a poorly done project will just need redone in a few years, causing you twice the expense, at least. Be smart and talk to a contractor before embarking on home improvement.


Photo by Cody Hughes @clhughes21

Outdoor Lighting for Everyone


Well planned outdoor lighting can give any house an upgrade, as well as making it safer and a more relaxing space. But it can be one of the costliest parts of your landscaping. Outdoor lighting doesn’t have to break your budget. Here is how to plan outdoor lighting for any price range.


What is Your Goal? What do you want to accentuate? Do you have any safety concerns to address first? Do you need light for security or ambiance? Understanding what you need will help you make a responsible plan and prevent you from overspending once you are at the store or with the landscaper and electrician.


Solar Powered or Wired? Look at your existing infrastructure. Would you need to install all solar powered lights? Do you need to bury wires? Or is there an existing outlet near where you need lights? Do you have the budget to hire an electrician to put in an outlet or wire your lights into your home? Is it cheaper to install exclusively solar or wireless? Answering these questions will give you a good idea of how much your project will cost or where you can trim expenses.


DIY or Hire A Professional? If you have a simple setup and know your needs, doing it yourself can be a cheap alternative. Floodlights start at about $10 per piece, deck lights can be had for around $10 a strand. Wireless and solar start around $20-30, depending on the size and wattage of the light you need. Basic single stick solar lights are sold in packs for $20-$60. If a decorative light effect is what you are after, those options begin at $80 a piece. If you have a large area to light, a complex concept, are working with a mature landscape, or are unsure of what you need, it can be a good idea to at least speak with a professional and find a way to work in your budget.


Don’t forget you can complete a plan in phases. Maybe right now you simply need a security light on your back deck and some solar lights leading to the front door, but you know later on you would like a complete lighting overhaul. Figuring out your goals now can help you budget and save for the eventual lighting you would like to install.


Photo by Cody Hughes @clhughes21