Budgeting and Cost-Saving Tips for Renovating an Old House

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Home renovation is a $400 billion industry, with no single company holding 5% (or more) of the total market share, according to a survey by Ruby Home.

For anyone who’s been through a home renovation project recently, that number might not be surprising at all.

Costs can quickly get out of control, and it’s not uncommon for projects to go wildly over budget.

So if you intend to renovate an older house, in this article, we’ll give you a comprehensive guide and step-by-step tips on how to save costs and maybe even stay under your initial budget.

Budgeting and Cost-Saving Tips for Renovating an Old House

Assessing the Costs


Assessing the costs of renovating an old house is the first and most important step to consider. 

Take stock of every aspect of the project before you start tearing down walls or installing new fixtures, including materials, tools, and professional services. 

Watch out for potential hidden costs that may arise during the renovation process, such as uncovering hidden structural damage or lead paint that needs to be removed. Further down, we’ll talk about how consulting with a contractor or specialized renovator can help you estimate the total cost of the project, including labor and material expenses. 

Every renovation project runs into unexpected expenses, and it’s highly recommended to set at least 10% of your total costs aside to stay ahead of any issues that might come up.

Proper cost assessment can save you from a financial nightmare during the renovation process and ensure your project is completed without any monetary concerns.

Hiring a professional inspector

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This is an upfront cost that will save you potentially thousands of dollars in the future, and we highly recommend you don’t skip this step! An inspector can help identify any underlying issues that may not be apparent to the untrained eye. 

They will be able to identify any structural damage, electrical or plumbing problems, and potential hazards like lead or asbestos. 

A professional inspector can also help provide an estimate for the cost of repairs, which will allow for a more accurate budgeting plan.

The biggest reason to hire someone as soon as possible is that they will help you avoid issues that can turn into huge money sinks if they go unnoticed. For example, if an inspector identifies a problem with the foundation, addressing it early on is a must. 

With a good idea of the costs, a homeowner can make smart decisions about what renovations are needed and what can be put off.

Overall, investing in a professional inspector can save a homeowner money and headaches in the long run. However, make sure you are hiring a licensed inspector that is listed on the InterNACHI certified home inspector directory.

Evaluating the repairs and upgrades needed

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If you’re working on an older house, always be prepared to do your fair share of repairs.

Once the costs have been assessed and potential issues identified, a homeowner can determine which repairs and upgrades are necessary. Something like old wiring should be addressed as soon as possible, to avoid issues in the future. 

Similarly, outdated plumbing may need to be replaced to ensure the health and safety of the occupants.

In addition to repairs, you may also need to modernize your home to increase its value. This could involve replacing old appliances with energy-efficient models, installing new fixtures, or upgrading the insulation to improve energy efficiency. 

Upgrades can also be done for aesthetic purposes, such as installing new flooring or updating the kitchen or bathroom.

When evaluating repairs and upgrades, it’s important to prioritize based on the budget and overall goals for the renovation.

Homeowners can make sure their renovation project is successful with a clear plan in place.

Setting a realistic budget

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There are so many things to keep track of when renovating a house that it’s common to overlook a few expenses along the way.

Materials, tools, labor, and permits, not to mention unexpected costs that may arise during the project. 

If you want to create a realistic budget, start by prioritizing repairs and upgrades based on their importance and budget limitations. Keep an eye out for innovations and industry trends that can help you save money, like LED lights and more.

If it’s your first time renovating a house, it’s pretty common to get overwhelmed when researching costs. Materials and labor fees are just the tip of the iceberg. In this article, we’ll also take a look at financing options, such as loans or lines of credit, to help you prepare your finances for your project.

It’s also highly recommended to allocate a contingency fund of at least 10% of the total budget to cover any unexpected expenses that may arise during the renovation. By setting a realistic budget, homeowners can avoid financial stress and ensure that their renovation project is successful and worth the investment.

Planning the Renovation

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This is what our plan of action looks like right now:

Organization and planning are the two key factors in completing your project on time and staying within your budget

Prioritizing renovations

Organization and planning are the two key factors in completing your project on time and staying within your budget

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It’s definitely tempting to think about all the bling you want to add to your house and how good it’ll look when it’s all said and done, but essential repairs, such as those related to structural or electrical issues, should be prioritized over aesthetic upgrades.

This ensures the safety and functionality of the home and avoids any potential hazards that may arise in the future.

Another factor to consider when prioritizing renovations is the budget. Homeowners should focus on projects that provide the most value for their investment. For example, upgrading the insulation or replacing old appliances with energy-efficient models may be more cost-effective than cosmetic enhancements.

It’s a good idea to always consider the return on investment (ROI) of each renovation project. Projects that add value to the property, such as updating the kitchen or bathroom, can provide a higher ROI than other projects.

It’s important to choose renovations based on safety, functionality, budget, and ROI to make sure an old house renovation project is successful. Proper planning and organization can help homeowners achieve their renovation goals while staying within their budget and timeline.

Finding cost-effective solutions

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If you want to save money without sacrificing quality, the best way to do it is to look for options that make the biggest impact for the least amount of money.

For instance, instead of completely repainting a room, changing the color of an accent wall can give the same effect at a lower cost. Similarly, using alternative materials like laminate or vinyl can save money when renovating the kitchen or bathroom. Reusing existing materials, such as cabinets, countertops, or hardware, can also reduce costs.

Another cost-effective solution is to tackle small DIY projects, such as painting or installing new light fixtures. These can be done without the need for a professional, saving homeowners money on labor costs. 

Also, shopping around for the best deals on materials, appliances, and furniture like semi-custom cabinets can help you stay on a budget.

Incorporating DIY projects

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This might be a scary idea if it’s your first time, but there are many things even someone with no experience can pull off during a renovation.

Simple projects, such as painting or installing new light fixtures, can be done without the need for a professional, saving money on labor costs. Installing new hardware, such as doorknobs or cabinet handles, can also be a quick and easy way to update the look of a room.

For more complex DIY projects, homeowners should be realistic about their skills and abilities. It is important to do thorough research, including watching tutorial videos and reading step-by-step guides, before attempting any major renovations. 

Also, consider that for some projects, you’ll need to invest in tools and other equipment.

Incorporating DIY projects into an old house renovation can not only save money but also provide a sense of accomplishment and personalization to the home. However, it is essential to prioritize safety and choose projects wisely to avoid costly mistakes or damage to the property.

Cost-Saving Tips for Renovating an Old House

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So far, we’ve covered:

Now, we’ll go deeper and cover practical tips you can use in your project to save a serious amount of money.

Salvaging and repurposing materials


Salvaging and repurposing materials is a great way to save money and add character to an old house renovation. 

Homeowners can repurpose old items, like doors or windows, as unique decor pieces or even use them as functional elements in the renovation. 

Salvaged wood can be transformed into unique furniture or used for flooring, adding warmth and character to a space.

Additionally, salvaging and repurposing materials is an eco-friendly practice that reduces waste and preserves history. Antique mantels, light fixtures, and hardware can be used as focal points or statement pieces in a room, adding charm and character to the space.

Exciting, right? But before you start, you’ll need to do some research to ensure that the materials are safe and in good condition. And don’t forget about the logistics of transporting and storing salvaged materials.

Buying materials in bulk


This approach can help homeowners save money on their renovation projects by taking advantage of volume discounts. Whether it’s lumber for framing, tiles for flooring, or roofing materials, buying in bulk can result in significant savings.

You can also reduce the cost of their renovation project by comparing prices from different suppliers before making a purchase. Most suppliers offer volume discounts on their products to incentivize a larger purchase.

By planning ahead and purchasing several months’ worth of materials, you’ll have more options to save money, as well as eliminate shipping costs and minimize the time spent shopping for supplies.

Plan ahead, compare prices, and take advantage of volume discounts, and you’ll achieve your renovation goals without overstretching the budget.

Negotiating with contractors and suppliers

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Renovating a home can really put your bartering skills to the test.

Always try to negotiate with contractors and suppliers to reduce the cost of materials, labor, and services. Get multiple quotes from different vendors and use them to negotiate a lower price. 

Discuss payment terms and schedules, as well as any potential discounts or promotions available, especially bulk discounts.

You can also explore alternative materials or ask for recommendations for more cost-effective options.

For introverted people, negotiating prices seems like an impossible task, but keep in mind that most suppliers and contractors do it regularly and won’t mind some haggling.

Just be prepared to compromise and show flexibility to find a mutually beneficial solution, as negotiations are about finding a happy middle ground between the two parties.

Doing some tasks yourself


Another cost-saving tip for renovating an old house is to do some tasks yourself. While some renovation projects require professional skills and expertise, homeowners can take on some smaller tasks that don’t require specialized knowledge, such as painting or installing new light fixtures. DIY projects can save homeowners a significant amount of money by reducing labor costs.

Moreover, doing some tasks yourself can be a rewarding and enjoyable experience. Homeowners can take pride in the work they’ve accomplished, and they can customize their renovation to their preferences and tastes. Just stay away from tasks that could seriously damage your home or that are too dangerous.

Before embarking on a DIY project, homeowners should do their research, gather the necessary tools and materials, and follow safety precautions. By doing some tasks yourself, homeowners can save money, learn new skills, and create a home that reflects their personality and style.

Financing the Renovation

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There are many ways to finance your home, such as personal loans, home equity loans, and lines of credit. 

Personal loans are the most straightforward option, but they usually come with higher interest rates. Home equity loans and lines of credit may have lower interest rates, but they require homeowners to put their homes up as collateral, which can be risky.

Another financing option to consider is government grants and loans. Many governments offer financial help to people who want to renovate their homes. These programs can provide you with loans or grants that can help offset the costs of their renovation projects.

When financing a renovation, the most important part is to have a budget in place and stick to it. 

During your renovations, you’ll also get a chance to implement newer, more efficient solutions that can help you save money on your energy bills. Plus, the value of your home will go up!

With careful planning and consideration, homeowners can finance their renovation projects and achieve their renovation goals without breaking the bank.

Exploring financing options

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If you’ve decided to finance, make sure to shop around as much as you can. Identifying the right financing option for your needs can significantly reduce stress and make the process more enjoyable. 

Here are the main factors to consider when determining which financing option is the best fit for your renovation:

  • Budget: Before you explore financing options, establish a clear budget for your renovation. You’ll need to know exactly how much financing you need and what the monthly payments will look like.
  • Loan Amount and Interest Rates: Different financing options offer varying loan amounts and interest rates. Assess your credit score, as it can significantly impact the interest rates available to you.
  • Flexibility: Some financing options offer flexibility in repayment terms or allow for additional borrowing as needed. Look for a financing option that provides the flexibility you need, such as the ability to make extra payments without penalties or access to a line of credit.
  • Pre-Approval: Get pre-approved for a loan ahead of time to make sure you are eligible for a renovation loan. Throughout the pre-approval process, a lender issues a preliminary loan pre-approval letter that determines if a potential borrower can receive financing. The letter serves as proof that a lender has taken the borrower through the pre-approval process, making them a stronger candidate to receive the loan.

Creating a renovation fund

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Creating a renovation fund is an important step in financing a renovation project. 

You should start with your current financial situation and determine how much money you can afford to set aside for their renovation. This can be done by creating a budget and identifying areas where expenses can be reduced.

One effective way to create a renovation fund is to set up a separate savings account. This will allow you to track your progress and avoid dipping into your regular savings or incurring debt. It’s also important to prioritize saving for the renovation and make regular contributions to the fund.

Creating a renovation fund takes planning and commitment, but it can help homeowners achieve their renovation goals without putting their financial stability at risk. By setting aside money in a separate savings account and exploring additional income sources, you can create a solid financial foundation for your renovation project.

Setting up a payment plan

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Setting up a payment plan is a crucial step in financing a renovation project. 

Once you have determined the financing option that works best for you and has created a renovation fund, the next step is developing a payment plan to pay off the loan or credit.

The payment plan should be realistic and manageable based on your current financial situation, taking into account other expenses and debts. It’s essential to make regular payments on time to avoid accruing additional interest and fees, which could result in further financial strain.

Some contractors may offer payment plans that can be more flexible and manageable than traditional loans, so don’t forget to explore these options too.

By setting up a payment plan and sticking to it, you can achieve your renovation goals while maintaining their financial stability. It takes discipline and planning, but with a well-thought-out plan, homeowners can complete their renovation projects without jeopardizing their financial well-being.


Renovating an old house is always a challenging experience, and it’s understandable to get overwhelmed by how much information is out there. But if you follow the tips above, you’re almost guaranteed to have a good experience and transform your home without breaking the budget. 

By setting a clear budget, considering various financing options, and implementing creative cost-saving measures, you can confidently tackle your renovation project and create the home of your dreams.

We hope this article has provided you with valuable insights and practical tips for staying on budget during your renovation journey. If you’ve found these suggestions helpful, don’t forget to share this article with friends and family who are also planning to renovate!

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