Bloggers: Martha K. with introduction by Laura G.

In the age of HGTV and Pinterest, home remodels are seemingly easy, affordable and instantaneous.  By the end of an hour-long episode, you have bought a house, gutted it, re-constructed as well as re-landscaped and are already lounging in your new Mid-Century Modern living room.  Sure, they usually throw in a plot twist by conflicting one of the agreed upon project constraints of schedule, cost, or quality.  But, in the end, the short struggle is trumped by the homeowner’s astonishment at the transformation of their surroundings and so are we as viewers.

Since most of us don’t know where to begin in our own home remodel projects (both small and large) and don’t have the resources of HGTV personalities, this series will be devoted to home improvements on a budget.  Sometimes the most helpful tool to stay within budget is thoughtfully listening to lessons learned from others who have “been there and done that.”  Recently, Martha Kamp (Community Relations Manager), finished a large bathroom remodel and has some great tips for those who are thinking of tackling a bathroom project.

(Martha) Here are my top tips for saving money on your bathroom remodel:

  1. Work with a designer to help come up with concepts. The vast selection of tile alone was overwhelming to me. Paying a designer to pick out different tile designs that worked well together saved me from the potential of picking something out myself and not liking how it turned out. It would have ended up costing more to get it swapped out!
  2. Be your own general contractor. This was a lesson learned. I did not realize that the general contractor’s job was to basically be the middle-man for this project. Now that we are connected with a great tile installer, I will go directly to him for our next project. I can understand why someone would hire a general contractor when building a new home, but for one room, it turned out to be unnecessary.
  3. Work with your existing layout and plumbing. If it works, why mess with it? Changing the layout can add thousands of dollars to your budget because of the extensive plumbing involved.
  4. Know when to call in the experts. Showers are tricky. They need to be sloped for proper drainage and everything must be waterproofed correctly to avoid mold. We knew we would need an expert for this. We saved money by doing basic things we felt comfortable with – for example, doing the demo ourselves saved $2,000 and hanging the mirrors, towels bars, roman shade, and lighting saved another $2,000! Also, ask friends and family for help! My father-in-law builds custom furniture, so he built our vanity.
  5. Price shop everything! From the comfort of my own computer, I was able to price shop every item we bought by typing in model #’s and keywords. Buying online from sites that offer competitive prices, no sales tax and free shipping was the way to go. By doing a quick search, I paid $180 for a custom roman shade. The first site I looked priced the same exact shade for $360! One retailer often does an 11% rebate on your total purchase. A competitor of this retailer will match this offer – but they do not widely advertise this rebate match!
  6. Mix high and low. Some items, like the tile and mirrors, were an investment – both of these add style to a space and are a focal point in our bathroom. To justify this expense, we went with a timeless look and chose satin nickel pivot mirrors and neutral-toned tile. Other items, like hand towels, bath rugs, and storage baskets were not necessary to spend a lot of money on, so I shopped at Target for those items. I also purchased a budget-friendly bathtub because this was not an important item for me. We mostly use it to give our dog baths! I believe a room tells a far more interesting story when it’s an interesting mix of both splurge items and affordable finds.

Bathroom photo before remodelBathroom photo after remodelBathroom photo after remodel