Thursday, February 3, 2011

START THE CAR!!! (or "4 ways to save big on your reno projects")

I just finished writing all about the updates that we've done to the bathroom. Then I realized that you may have been wondering (or not?) how I managed to swing a new faucet and drain for less than $35.

I actually picked up a brand new silver faucet for $20 at Rona, in the clearance section, and then had to purchase a drain to go with it for $11.99 at Home Depot (pictures to come as soon as it's installed). When I bought the faucet, I left Rona laughing and screaming START THE CAR a la this Ikea commercial that I can't watch without laughing so hard I cry. Yes, I was alone. Good thing the store was closing and I was the only one in the parking lot. Good, so now we've established I'm crazy.

The reason I'm sharing this is because you never know what you'll find in the clearance section of your home renovation store (or any store!). Although I had to purchase a drain to match as the one currently in the sink is the same hideous brass colour as in the pictures in my last post, the cheapest faucet at Home Depot is still $29.99 (and is a whole mountain of ugly)!

Here are my tips and tricks for saving a bundle that I've picked up along the way:

1. When we purchased our kitchen cabinets (more on that to come), we asked if the cabinets were going to go on sale at any point in the near future. Although the salesperson repeatedly assured us that kitchen cabinets never go on sale, we weren't convinced. We needed to order the cabinets that day in order to keep the house progress on track, but we asked him to write a guarantee on our order that if the cabinets went on sale within the next 30 days, we would get a full refund of the difference. Sure enough, 29 days later, there was a huge sale where the sink base cabinet was free with purchase, and if you spent over $10,000 (writing that number is physically painful for me), you would get $1500 off your purchase. So, we hauled ourselves back there and got $500 for the sink base, the $1500 rebate, and the tax refunded. Total? $2300!!! Back in our pockets! (Many thanks to my super negotiator mother for teaching me this valuable lesson).

Lesson learned: never trust a kitchen cabinet salesperson. if you have to buy something right away, try to ensure you'll get the difference back when it comes on sale.

2. Use your contacts. When you're planning a big project, make it known to the world! If you casually slip it in to a conversation that you're thinking about upgrading to granite, your boss might refer you to her husband who happens to own a granite store. Be careful with this though, because it's much harder to yell at your boss' husband than some random guy who put a hole in your wall.

3. Pick up a drill and at least try to DIY. Installing your own quarter-round is a pain, but it saves a whole truckload of money. All you need is a nail gun! I promise! Start with small projects to work up some confidence. The other night, we installed a new lock set on the front door, and although it took close to 8 hours (yes, 8), we got it done, and it gave me the confidence to install new hardware on the bathroom cabinets the next night. We've saved thousands and thousands by doing things around the house ourselves.

4. Use stock sizes where possible. This is actually a lesson learned from the condo that we owned before the house. T and my Dad renovated our bathroom a few years ago and had a little mis-hap which ended up requiring the drywall to be installed 2 inches further into the bathroom than it had been before. You wouldn't think that this would be such an issue, but standard toilets measure 12" from the bolts on the floor to the back of the tank, and without those 2 inches behind the toilet, our old one wouldn't fit! We had to find a 10" toilet, and we were pretty sure we would have to pay a pretty penny for it. Luckily, we ended up finding one randomly at a Home Hardware in Cobden, Ontario (look it up on a map - it's in the middle of nowhere) for only $100. However, the lesson learned was that size does matter. At least when it comes to toilets.

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