The smell of fresh paint, the sound of hammers on nails and the rainbow of post-it notes in home decor catalogues – home renovations are underway. And while they say money can’t buy happiness, the bills you’ll have if you act recklessly can cause you plenty of grief. So don’t bring out the power tools just yet. Although time is money, patience and reflection can help you save in the long run. Here are some tips to help keep costs to a minimum when working on your home.
Failure to prepare is preparing to fail
Plan and re-plan each step you’re going to take, well before you start. Poor organisation or lack of preparation will lose you time and money. Keep a logbook of jobs to do and think about the order in which you’re going to do them (or have them done). It would be a shame, not to mention expensive, to have to pull up the tiles you just laid because the builders need to install piping for the floor heating. So break out the spreadsheets!
Seek government support
Don’t forget that the Luxembourg government offers grants and tax breaks for people carrying out construction or renovation works. This is especially relevant if you’re using eco-friendly materials or an electrical system running on renewable energy, or if you’re renovating an old building (under certain conditions).
Check out the list of advantages and eligibility conditions .
More quotes, more savings
We recommend that you get multiple quotes from professionals. The difference in price for the same job from two different contractors can be enormous, and not just because of the quality of work. Comparing quotes will help you make an objectively good choice, and getting an overview of market prices puts you in a better position to negotiate. A good rule of thumb is to get three quotes per job. Be wary of hidden charges in the fine print; you can always reject them. You should listen to the experts, but never forget that this is your project and you make the final decisions.
Some tasks don’t require any particular skills, only that you be well prepared and follow guides or tutorials step-by-step.
Do it yourself!
If you want something done right, do it yourself – for those handy with a set of tools, this certainly rings true. And for the rest, it’s time to trust yourself! Some tasks don’t require any particular skills, only that you be well prepared and follow guides or tutorials step-by-step. After all, practice makes perfect, and in this digital age you can find visual explanations for everything online.
For example, check out the YouTube channel ManoMano.
With a little help from my friends
However experienced you are, don’t overestimate your own abilities. Attempted alone, some tasks can be impossible, or even dangerous to you or others, so don’t take unnecessary risks. Don’t hesitate to call an experienced friend or two to help you out. Not only is it free, but it’s safer and more fun!
This is especially relevant when dealing with heavy loads, electrical systems or objects too complex for one person to manipulate. Similarly, take care when handling chemicals and always keep them out of reach of children. Our Swiss neighbours have created a page on asbestos, lead and PCB to alert you to such dangers.
Site under construction
One of the worries with major construction or renovation works is that it’s sometimes not possible to live on-site. For example, if you were renting a flat and have now bought a house, but can’t move in yet. A mortgage and rent combined could soon become expensive if the work drags on (which, admittedly, is often the case). Sometimes you have to take the risk and impose yourself on your loved ones. Your friends and family (or in-laws) are sure to understand your situation and will no doubt put you up in their spare room for as long as you need. It’s certainly worth a try!
Spend smart, not big
One of the biggest expenses after labour costs is purchasing materials (paint, wood, wallpaper, insulation, tools, accessories, etc.). This is when you have to be smart and grab your calculator. Some “high-end” products are not worth their hefty price tag – why pay twice as much for a particular type of insulation if it will only save you EUR10 a year on your heating bill? Don’t forget to check online; you can find some great deals, sometimes with a cheaper home delivery cost than that of retail stores.
Just enough is just right
Excess tiles and wood flooring, half-empty cans of paint drying in the back of the garage – these are all wasted money. Find out the measurements of your home or kitchen so you can get the exact quantity of material you need. Account for a margin of error of 5% (you never know), but no more than that.
Rent instead of buy
Some tools that you may need are expensive to buy. And once the work is done and their specific functions have been served, you can almost guarantee they’ll be gathering dust in the garage. After all, you don’t cut tiles every day! Through a number of local and international companies, you can rent these tools from a nearby location and bring them back when you’re finished. Just make sure you do bring them back, or you may lose all the money you saved!
Contrary to what you may think, hiring an independent contractor to do part of the work can be cheaper than going to a large company.
Independent contractors over large companies
Contrary to what you may think, hiring an independent contractor to do part of the work can be cheaper than going to a large company. It all depends on the job, but an independent contractor has much less overhead and fewer expenses than a large construction company (employees, vehicles, taxes, etc.). This means that their quote could end up being lower. On top of this, it’s often easier to speak with someone who considers you an important client than with the very busy secretary of a large company for whom you’re just another number. Whatever your situation, you can visit the Fédération des Artisans website to find the right expert for you.
The more you prepare in advance, the fewer delays you will encounter. And there you have it – not so bad after all, is it? In any case, we hope these tips make your home improvement experience easier, free from financial headaches and nervous breakdowns! Don’t forget that you’re not just improving your home, you’re building a better future. Bear this in mind and you’ll keep smiling through whatever comes your way.