Let’s face it, not everything that needs to be done can wait until you can afford it. Cars need new windshields, gas ovens need new igniters, kitchen floors shed their linoleum and trip you on that midnight snack run. Some things just need to be fixed, sooner rather than later.
After 11 years in this house, there were a lot of things that needed fixed/replaced/dealt with. We had a king sized repair list and a pauper sized budget. Our goal was to bring our 1970’s dwelling into the 21st century, so we can refinance and hopefully score a lower interest rate.
We knew we would not be able to afford to hire someone to do the work for us. We are both pretty good at following written instructions and there are a plethora of written instructions on home repair projects. The library is always there, and most have internet access now, as well as printed matter. Home repair stores usually have ‘DIY’ demos, and your local free university often offers DIY classes.
We spent weeks studying the process for installing tile in the kitchen. Then we went shopping. We went to a big home improvement warehouse store. They had the best prices and the most information on the products we were considering. However, there is also a Habitat for Humanity store near us. They sell unused materials that have been donated to the program. The prices are great, but the selection is hit or miss. If you have plenty of time and are flexible in your choices, it is a great place to shop.
We found a very friendly and helpful sales associate and explained what we needed to do and our budgetary requirements.
- The kitchen needed a new floor.
- We have dogs.
- We keep a full schedule and don’t have a lot of time for maintenance.
- Our area experiences wildly shifting changes in temperature and humidity.
- Footwear varies from boots to running shoes.
- We have enthusiasm, but not a lot of practical experience.
We purchased mid-grade materials. The cheaper materials would have needed replacing much sooner and ended up costing us more in the long run. The more expensive stuff was nice, but was not necessary for our purposes. We bought the basic tools needed. There were other ‘gadgets’ that would make the job faster or easier, but they weren’t necessary. The basic tools worked fine, and can be used for the next project. The store offered delivery of the materials, but we opted to borrow a friend’s truck and load and unload ourselves. More work, less money.
It worked. It took us 2 full days to put in the new floor. The books all said we should have been able to do it in 7 hours. We made mistakes and corrected them. The floor looks great and is wearing well so far. We have had weather ranging from 70 degrees and sunny to -2 with 10 inches of snow, in a 36 hour period and nothing has cracked, broken, chipped or been displaced. We have cautiously deemed the project a success.
So to recap:
- Research your project thoroughly
- Shop your materials well
- A helpful and knowledgeable salesperson is a big plus!
- The cheapest product isn’t always the best.
- Haul it yourself.
- Do it yourself!
- Don’t get in a hurry.
Think of your home as money in the bank, because it really is the biggest investment you’ll ever make. You can maintain it without throwing your budget away!