How to budget for 5 top home improvement projects

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Home Improvement

How to Budget and Save for 5 Top Home Improvements
By Dan DiClerico, HomeAdvisor’s Home Expert


With home improvement season in full swing, homeowners are looking at much-needed upgrades and repairs. For most of us, though, there’s no such thing as a bottomless remodeling budget. That’s why it’s essential to get a handle on what things cost and then set your priorities accordingly.

To help in that process, HomeAdvisor surveyed homeowners about the top items on their current to-do lists. Below is a snapshot of the five most popular projects, including average national costs (based on HomeAdvisor’s True Cost Guide) and cost-cutting tips for homeowners who want to stretch their remodeling budgets as far as possible.

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1. Paint the Interior
A fresh coat of paint is the fastest, most cost-effective way to transform the look and feel of your home. Most homeowners report paying around $1,800 to have their home interiors painted.

Money-Saving Tip: If it’s a major project covering multiple rooms, painting pros suggest that you buy your paint in 5-gallon containers, not individual gallons. That should lower the cost by 25 percent or more. And be sure to choose a high-quality paint, with the primer mixed in, to avoid having to apply multiple coats.

2. Install Landscaping
Sprucing up the landscape and installing an outdoor living area can quickly expand your home’s useable square footage. Homeowners report spending an average of $3,300 to install landscaping.

Money-Saving Tip: Experts recommend planting perennial plants like bushes, shrubs, vines and trees if you’re looking to cut down on costs. These plants are hardy and will survive from year to year whereas less hardy annuals will need to be replaced more often.

3. Lay New Flooring
As floor plans continue to open up, flooring itself has become a critical component for unifying a home’s design. Hardwood is the most popular, with many homeowners choosing to extend it from the kitchen out into the main living areas. On average, homeowners report paying around $3,000 to lay new flooring.

Money-Saving Tip: If you see opened or damaged boxes of flooring at the home center, ask if you can have them at a discounted price. You can also use flooring with minor flaws where it won’t be seen, like under a bed or living room sofa.

4. Remodel the Bathroom
The bathroom is one of the most commonly remodeled rooms, and with good reason — we spend time there every day. On average, homeowners report spending around $10,000 to remodel their bathrooms.

Money-Saving Tip: Visit your local stone yard and look for leftover slabs, called remnants, that you can buy for cheap to use on the bathroom vanity. This counter area tends to be small, so you won’t need much material to make it work.

5. Paint or Stain the Home’s Exterior
Just as with the interior, a fresh coat of paint or stain is the surest way to transform the outside of your home. For home sellers, this is one of the best ways to add instant value. Homeowners report paying an average of $2,800 for exterior home painting.

Money-Saving Tip: Exterior paint projects are best left to the pros, especially where ladders are involved. But you may be able to cut costs by doing some of the prep work yourself, including covering landscaping with tarps and scraping/sanding ground-floor siding and windows.