Posted by Tim Stobbs on August 18, 2014
Sorry for the lack of posts last week I’ve been up to my eyeballs in projects around the house. The major one is my wife’s long awaited cork flooring has arrived so I was doing a small test run on installing it in the front entry. That way I’m ready for the much bigger project of installing the cork floor in her kitchen. We also decided to buy enough material to do the same flooring in the back hallway and laundry room. So while the material wasn’t that cheap ~$1900, it will cover a large area so it should make the house a fair bit more enjoyable once I finish all the installs. Here is what it looks like so far.
Yet that wasn’t the only project I was working on. The other project was completed in a single day for a cost of a mere $155, which is the main subject of this post. It consisted of rescuing our backyard plant bed from the weeds and putting down two yards of mulch to suppress the weeds from coming back. I recently learned I previous wasn’t putting down the mulch thick enough to do a good job of weed suppression. I last time put down perhaps two inches of mulch when in fact 4 or more inches is required. I learned the hard way on that one here is the before and afterwards pics.
But that project was the perfect example that home improvement doesn’t in fact have to be expensive. Unfortunately due to media brainwashing everyone tend to think of major improvement like redoing a kitchen when in fact there are a entire class of projects that can make a home more enjoyable which can be done on a limited budget. The trick to find something that largely requires time to complete it, but you have the skills to do the work yourself and the material costs are low.
So as I already mentioned, mulch is a damn cheap material to work with. So it can be used under trees, in beds to keep down weeds and also look a bit nice looking. Other bulk materials like crusher dust can be used to create pathways or support patios and if you order is bulk is again fairly affordable. Also ask friends and neighbours about splitting perennial that already exist in their yards like iris or day lilies. You can often create a nice bed of plants with a bit of labour and some patience.
Inside the house your best friend in the world is paint. Per can it might be expensive (DO NOT CHEAP OUT ON PAINT YOU WILL REGRET IT – trust me I learned that also the hard way), but your coverage is fairly huge and it can make a big impact on a home. This is by far the most common reno we do after buying a new property as we can often get a room done in a regular weekend. Or if you can secure some help for a week it is possible to paint an entire small house in just a week.
Other project that can be affordable include change out light fixtures (as long as you don’t shop for a new chandelier), flooring projects (if you choose an affordable option and keep to a smaller area) and most projects that involve fabric if you know how to sew (new pillow covers or curtains). Then if you are open to shopping around a bit you can also snag some excellent deals on materials, it just helps to have an open mind and not being bothered by buying other people’s leftovers. I once got a great deal on oak hardwood just because the people in question decided to sell their house instead of finishing the flooring project they had started.
So in the end, don’t think you need to spend $20,000 to do a reno project to your house. In fact, you can like make your house a lot nicer for a fraction of that cost as long as you don’t mind doing the work yourself. Since I like learning new skills I rather enjoy that sort of thing myself.
What was your lowest cost project in your house? Any other ideas on affordable renos?