Frugal Remodeling Tips from a Contractor

Posted by Kevin Stevens | Mar 05, 2012
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Choosing granite tiles instead of a granite slab is one way to cut big bucks off your kitchen remodel. This is a granite tile countertop that I installed. --KevinHomeowners often face the decision to remodel or move. The driving forces are varied, as some need more space, while others may just want something different, modern, or more efficient. When a remodeling project is planned and executed, the primary regulating factor is usually the budget. With an endless supply of green, the sky is the limit. However most of us fall well below the 1% and need to stretch our resources.

I am an experienced carpenter and tile installer in the Denver area who has done many remodeling projects. I can help you with some great tips to meet those end goals with out breaking the bank.

Repurpose and Reuse Instead of Buying All New

The cliché is really true: “One man’s junk is another mans treasure”. I have seen a lot of very creative uses of old dressers and cabinets. A vessel sink placed on top of an antique sideboard or dresser can show a mix of new with the old, creating a juxtaposition of modern style and old time charm. Many of these older pieces are dressed up with chalk paint for a distressed but clean look. I have also sanded and repainted many doors to give them a new life.


Doing it yourself is another way to save some money. If you have the time, some basic common sense and a handful of basic tools, many remodeling projects are within your grasp.  The most common route here is simple painting tasks. Armed with a few gallons of paint, a drop cloth and a roller and brush, a room can be transformed in weekend or two. Busy working folks can add a personal sense of pride into their space as well as a splash of color.

Reevaluate Material Options

Kitchens and baths are one of my many specialties. When going through a list of possible material choices the spectrum is as wide and diverse as one can imagine. Cabinets can be “off the shelf” or builder-grade versions from your local home center, or 100% custom made in exotic woods. Topping a normal sized kitchen in a solid surface product or some fancy granite slab can easily run upwards of 3 to 4 grand. I have done dozens of lower priced versions using lower cost, but near-equally impressive, large granite tiles. Here entire kitchens can be done for about ½ the cost of the slab installations. If you DIY, you can save even more. These large granite tiles are not to hard to handle like that slab that may need 4 broad-shouldered gents to carry it about. I can move these tiles with one hand (and you probably could, too).

Tile choices for bathroom remodeling can vary even more. I have installed fancy granites and marbles that have cost over $20 a sq. foot, I have also installed basic ceramic tiles that cost less than a dollar per sq. foot. Not too many remodeling products can vary by factor of 20x. Just to put this type of cost spread into perspective, imagine a new Volkswagen Passat…about $20K…a 20 fold increase could result in a $400K car like a Rolls-Royce Phantom Coupe or a 1000 horse power Lamborghini Gallardo LP570. So when it comes to a remodel, are you a practical Volkswagen type of person or a flamboyant Lamborghini type? The Lamborghini has its appeal, but what would you really drive to work every morning?

Kevin Stevens writes for Networx. Get home & garden ideas like this on Networx.

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