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10 tips for doing an inexpensive home remodel

This week on Home Matters, hosts Pete and Rob share their tips for keeping your home remodel projects inexpensive.

1. Be your own contractor: If you’re doing something that’s a small remodel and you have the time and the understanding and inclination, you may want to be your own general contractor. That will save you some money over hiring a general contract to do that for you.

2. Have a plan: Have a plan and stick to it. I’ve seen it time and time again where people get into a remodel and they don’t really have a good plan for all of the materials and finishes, and they get started and their costs start snowballing. It’s like the shiny penny syndrome – I like that. I like that. I like that.
Figuring out all the details on materials and quantities ahead of time will help you stay within your budget.

3. Shop online to save: Shop on Craigslist. Go to a for recycled products you can buy that are astronomically inexpensive. also has a host of fixtures and lighting at 60 to 80 percent off typical prices. These are places you can go to find good quality things that are inexpensive.

4. Look for cheap money: We’re in historic low interest rates. If you’re looking for a good place to find cheap money take a look at the 203K loan programs from a bank or a mortgage broker. You can use them for remodeling and it’s very inexpensive money. They loan on the estimated value of the remodel.

5. Painting: Painting will dramatically change your whole house. Paint can be used to refresh rooms without major renovations. For example, many cabinets might be improved simply by adding paint, instead of installing all brand new cabinets. Listen to the podcast for step-by-step instructions on painting cabinets.

6. Do cosmetic work yourself: If you have a set of tools you can manage cosmetic touches on your own. You can paint yourself. You can put the trim back on. You can put on fixtures and knobs. You can do lighting if you follow instructions with lighting packages (Pete and Rob say though lighting sounds scary it’s not hard to do).

7. Buy remnants: Whether it’s cabinets or countertops. Buy remnants and pieces. If you want to go stone, I would suggest you go down to Seattle’s SoDo district. There’s a lot of granite places down there and they have remnant pieces. You can buy a remnant for 40 to 50 percent of the cost of a regular slab.

8. Find cheap lighting: Craigslist is a good source for lighting. and also have very good prices and ideas for lighting.

9. Find inexpensive floor materials: If you’re going to look for a good price on flooring, check This is hardwood materials. You can get some great prices on bamboo, cherry and other wood types. Some of them have 25 and 50 year lives. Pete also suggests calling flooring companies to check and see if they have overstocks for sale. Just a phone call can help you save.

10. Hire inexpensive labor: There are some things in your home that you do need to hire a professional contractor for. is a good option to find labor. Taskrabbit has already done a background check as part of their qualification process. If you need a handyman, you can get a very good deal there says Rob.

Learn more about home remodels by listening to the Home Matters podcast. Listen to Home Matters on KIRO Radio Saturdays at 8 a.m. Sundays at 6 a.m. Available anytime ON DEMAND at

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