When it comes to building, fixing, and remodeling your home, it’s easy to quickly max out your budget. Many fear not having the budget to finish and no one wants to have to pause projects. In this post, we offer tips to help you save yourself from having to spend more than planned.

ADD JUST A TOUCH OF THE FANCY STUFF. If your kitchen’s too big (or your budget’s too small) to swath all the counters in granite ($100 per linear foot and up), just add some highlights in the most prominent areas, such as kitchen islands, and install laminate everywhere else (less than $20 per foot). The same trick works with expensive flooring.

BUY OFF-THE-SHELF BUILDING PLANS. For $235 to about $500 per set, you can get new home plans the way many developers do–out of a catalog. You probably will need to pay a local architect or engineer a few hundred to a few thousand dollars to adapt them to your building lot, but you’ll save over a custom architect’s fee, which can run to 15% of construction costs–$45,000 for a $300,000 home.

GET WITH THE NEIGHBORS. In many suburban developments, all the houses are approximately the same age and thus may be in need of new roofs, resurfaced driveways, and new air-conditioners at approximately the same time. Many contractors are willing to cut a deal with neighborhood associations, offering discounts of 2% to 5% to groups of neighbors willing to have the work done by the company. The contractor benefits from economies of scale, and you and your neighbors may save $250 each on a $5,000 roofing job.

SOLVE THAT WET-BASEMENT PROBLEM. We have two inexpensive fixes to try before you pay as much as $5,000 on a waterproofing job: Cheap idea number one is nearly free: Invest two bucks in a 10-foot length of black corrugated drainpipe to carry water from your downspouts far away from your home’s foundation. The second idea is dirt cheap: Invest in a truckload of dirt (roughly $100 to $250) and fix the grading around your home so that water naturally rolls away.

LEARN HOW TO DO-IT-YOURSELF, but avoid expensive rookie mistakes. Community-education programs–and even large home-center stores–offer free or low-cost classes on home-improvement basics such as installing a new sink or door, wallpapering, and even building a deck. Nuts-and-bolts details are laid out in books such as Home Improvement for Dummies.

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