Family Magazine

a Fresh Start & a Few Tips for Saving Money on Home Renovation

By Lindsayleighbentley @lindsayLbentley

My husband and I are very hands-on with this home renovation.  We are doing a good portion of the demo, removing piles and piles of brush from the overgrown yard, cleaning, etc.

The son-in-law of the previous owners came by the other day while we were trimming trees. We were so excited to hear a few stories about the home and the sweet family who built it and lived there until both parents died a few years ago.  We could tell that the home was well loved.  There was tiny rosette wallpaper and pink carpet in one room, little pictures were found in the attic, just signs everywhere that this home was inhabited by love for years and years.


It’s been a bittersweet process, taking out the old to make room for the new.  There were even dishes left in the dishwasher.  It’s so strange to me that years and years of memories were made here, and then suddenly, it was abandoned.

The man that came by also told us there there have been a few weddings in the back yard.  I mean, it is gorgeous, or will be, so I’m not surprised. He was thrilled to hear our careful plans for restoring the home.

When we originally looked at the home there was also a house-flipper there with his contractor.  He stumbled over and started to tell us, through breath thick with alcohol at 10am, about all of his plans for this home.  He was going to fix it quick and sell it quick, just like he had the one behind it.  I don’t know why, but Hank and I had an immediate connection to this property and I knew that we would invest in it, love it, make it our home in a way that this man would not.  The home is too special to not have someone carefully and thoughtfully restore it back to it’s former beauty, something that could not be done in a few weeks. The thought of him buying it made me sad, so we were obviously overjoyed when we ended up getting it!


As everyone had warned, it’s already taken longer than we anticipated.  But, thanks to my husband’s fantastic negotiating skills and hard work, we are finding great ways to save money.

I know we are just in the beginning stages of getting the old out, but I can’t help but daydream about a tree house in the back yard, raising chickens for eggs, Christmas garland on the beautiful stairway banister, big family Thanksgiving dinners, cozy Christmases around the oversized fireplace, camping out in the back yard with the kids after roasting hot dogs over the fire pit, and I want to hang a swing from one of the tall limbs just like I had as a kid…

photo 1-61

After 6 weeks of renovation, here’s some of what we have learned:

1. Hire people that come personally recommended by a trusted friend or current worker who you are happy with.  Good people know good people.  We wasted a bit of time and money trying to use workers who we did not know or who were recommended by someone that didn’t to a great job.  We learned from our mistakes and have found a few steady guys who are awesome, and everyone they recommend have also been great.

2. Be nice when you fire someone.  No matter how bad of a job they have done, or how difficult they are to work with, it’s best to treat everyone with respect.  Plus, I mean, they know where you live.

3. Think cheap for the cheap and pay for what’s important: ie: we needed window coverings for the demo, so rather than paying $10 each for drop cloths, we spent $20 at Goodwill on old sheets.  We hired very cheap workers to do non-skilled labor (hauling brush, tearing out old nasty carpet, etc.) Alternately, we wanted garage doors that function and seal well – we spent a bit of money on a quality product and a company with fantastic reviews.  We also found a guy with a ton of experience and knowledge to do the carpentry. Well worth it!

4. Get quotes from LOTS of different professionals…there are quality workers who won’t charge what the big name companies will and will bid a job for free.  We have found that the big companies with billboards and fancy trucks were much (sometimes up to 10x) more expensive than a small company or an individual.  Plus, the small companies usually depend on personal recommendations rather than marketing for future work so they are often really great to work with.

5. Put your tax dollars to work – our City has a number you can call to have bulk trash removed once a month for free, and will haul brush and tree limbs from the curb as needed. This has saved us a good bit of money on dumpster fees.

6. Haggle, nicely.  Everything is negotiable, and if someone feels valued and respected by you, they are usually willing to work with you on a price.

I know we have a lot more to learn, but it’s really exciting.  Stay tuned!

live well. be well.

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