Summer home improvement projects: high expectations, low budgets

Bet you couldn't guess the owners of this kitchen installed these cabinets themselves / credit: Alan Daly
Bet you couldn’t guess the owners of this kitchen installed these cabinets themselves / credit: Alan Daly

Summer is prime time to get around to those home improvement projects we’ve been putting off all year, but many of us have had to further delay getting to work because of a tight budget. Luckily, Danny Ruby of Refine Construction has good news for those of us with both light wallets and light fixtures that need repairs. The Massachusetts-based builder says that there are many ways to save money and still achieve a first-class finish that you’ll love to live with and will add value to the property when it comes time to sell. Metro asked Ruby for money-saving tips for your next home improvement project for your home’s most lived-in rooms.

The Kitchen
“Buy ready to assemble cabinets and put them together yourself. Also, check online for better deals than you may find in stores; this goes for most other items, including lighting and fixtures. Granite holds up well and adds value to a home, but it can be a bit pricey. Dark granites are often cheaper than the lighter shades so start there and shop around. Really, you can find the exact same piece of granite at different stores for very different prices.”

The Bathroom
“Don’t forget the power of paint. Update an area quickly by adding a new, fresh color to the walls or a piece of furniture. In a bathroom, an old vanity doesn’t always have to be replaced, sometimes it can be painted and end up looking brand new. Don’t move plumbing, as it adds cost very quickly. You can easily update a kitchen or bathroom without touching the actual plumbing, like sinks and tubs.”

The Bedroom
“Consider installing ceiling fans instead of central light fixtures. It will help keep you cool over the summer. Put your money toward something that will have added benefit later by cutting down on AC costs. Things like trims and moldings can make a huge difference in how the finished house looks. Keep in mind that the thicker the molding, the more expensive it is. Your best bet is to go with a smaller molding. It will still add character and class to the room without breaking the bank.”

[Pro Tip] The merit of DIY handiwork
“Demolition is one thing you can do yourself to save some money,” says Ruby. “Tearing down the existing interior so that it can be redone is pretty straightforward, as long as you have your contractor tell you specifically what needs to be torn down.”


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