Wood is expensive now. Here are 5 expert tips to save renovation costs

If you’re like many Americans, stuck at home during the pandemic gave you some ideas on how to remodel your space.

Maybe you need a decent home office or it’s finally time to redesign the 1970s kitchen. No matter what project it is or how you finance it, you may be spending a lot more money than you budgeted for if you are not careful. Building materials prices skyrocketed during the pandemic, due to a surge in demand and a supply shortage. Timber prices are still around twice as high as they were in April 2020, even after a recent decline, according to an analysis by the National Association of Builders.

“What we’re seeing right now is just a lot of chaos in the supply chain. It’s created a lot of bottlenecks, ”said Elizabeth Gomez, owner of Bridge City Contracting in Portland, Oregon. From border closings to factory closures, the disruption caused by COVID-19 at the height of the pandemic had ramifications that are still felt today.

But there are still a few ways you can save on remodeling costs if you are ready to get creative. Here’s what remodeling experts recommend you think about before diving into your next project.

1. Start with the right design

The greatest savings opportunity is in the planning phase, says Gomez. Homeowners often make the mistake of planning a home improvement project without thinking about the materials used.

“One of the biggest areas that people lose money on projects is that the projects are poorly planned,” says Gomez. “It’s important to take a few steps back and really evaluate your project,” she adds.

Make sure the materials you need are readily available (and affordable) at your local supplier before you start the demolition. Otherwise, expedited service fees may leave you looking for materials or contractors that are more expensive.

You can also tweak your design ahead of time to make it more cost-effective. By maintaining the original frame and the load-bearing components of a room, the so-called footprint, a lot of money can be saved compared to removing the core from fixtures and changing load-bearing walls.

“If you step out of your existing footprint and expand, you will have all sorts of costs,” said Judy Transue, co-owner of CHC Design-Build in Kansas.

Also, remember to keep your design simple. For example, in a bathroom, keeping the plumbing intact or reducing the number of tiles used can lower the cost of the project.

2. Reuse and recycling

We all grew up with the mantra: reduce, reuse and recycle. This can also apply to your home renovation.

Construction centers sell products and materials that are in their second life at a great discount. You can also check to see if there is a Habitat ReStore near you; these stores also sell recycled building materials – even entire kitchens – at lower prices.

“You can find unique items that not everyone will have,” says Gomez. Of course, you may have to dig a little.

Also, consider keeping some of the materials that are already in your house, Transue says. For example, instead of replacing a parquet floor, you can refurbish or expand it by incorporating new flooring.

“You will save a lot of money if you replace it,” says Transue.

3. Look for big box discounts

While they may not be a source of lumber themselves, large physical stores like Costco add to the quality and quantity of the building materials they sell, Gomez says, and can be a great way to save on other aspects of your home renovation project.

For example, a Kohler branded sink and faucet set could cost $ 300 at Costco but three times the price at a plumbing store. “There’s a lot of value in there,” says Gomez.

This strategy can also apply to household appliances. Consider floor models, scratch cards or leftover sales to save money on these purchases, Transue suggests.

4. Sell what you no longer need

The temptation to start renovating your home with a sledgehammer is great: tear down walls, smash old cupboards and transport everything away in a dumpster.

But before you do that, ask yourself if any of the materials have any resale value. Transue once saw a customer carefully remove and sell an entire kitchen: cabinets, countertops, and everything.

Reselling old materials could be a source of income to offset the increased cost of new supplies. Your contractor is unlikely to be reselling any of your materials for you, Transue says, but you have a window of time to sell materials before real demolition or construction begins.

If you’re not sure what to do with old materials or furnishings, try listing them on Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist. Worst-case scenario: Nobody is buying it and you can donate it or throw it away, but it’s worth a try.

5. Work with a professional remodeler

Planning and even performing a renovation yourself to save money can be a smart move at times, but experts warn that it could also have hidden costs.

This is especially true for sawn timber: professional builders and contractors have access to products that the average consumer does not have.

“The wood prices are what they are,” says Transue. “By working with a remover, you can get discounts on the lumber yards,” she adds.

Transue suggested starting with the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI) to find and hire a qualified professional. (Transue is a NARI Certified Remodeler and serves as the Kansas City Chair for the organization.)

Gomez agrees that there are significant benefits to working with a professional. They can work with you to understand the goals of your project and suggest different types of materials that will best fit your budget.

Remember, however, that no matter what you do, you can still run into delivery bottlenecks, delays, or price increases. That is the reality of renovation during the pandemic.

“It’s a challenging time for people who want to do something and for industry professionals,” says Gomez.