5 "no brainer" ways to save money on your home improvement project

  1. Return the items you don't use. Whether you're undertaking a large scale construction project or a small scale renovation you will almost inevitably end up with more supplies than you need. I think the biggest place this is likely to happen is plumbing. Honestly I think being sent to to the store by yourself with nothing but a list from your plumber (professional or not) only to return with the wrong part is cruel and unusual punishment. This happened to me several times with a professional plumber (Mr. Nick was overseas for a year in Kyrgyzstan so I had to suck it up and pay) until finally I ended up buying two of everything in the aisle. Overkill I know, but truly I was at my wits end. And what do you know, I had the right parts! The morale of this story though, is to return the parts you don't end up using. Even little $2 and $3 pieces add up quickly. Mr. Nick and I keep a bucket full of odds and ends and try to go about once a month to get caught up.
  2. Take advantage of warranties. When I buy a tool I expect it work and Mr. Nick is even harder on tools than I am. If something breaks while I was properly using it I take it back. Lowes sells a brand "Kobalt" and it actually says on the package, guaranteed for life. We took back a measuring tape which was pretty beat up but they changed it out no problem.
  3. Bid out your materials package. If you're doing a large scale project most likely you will have a materials list. However, even with simple products (we're currently in the market for garage doors) it pays to shop around. We ended up buying our lumber package at a local lumber store, not a big box chain. A lumber store we almost didn't ask for a bid from since everyone in town said they were expensive. However, they ended up being the cheapest ... by a lot! So for us, it has paid to shop around.
  4. Always return rental equipment with a full gas tank. This one we have gotten lazy on a couple times and each time I do it I kick myself in the foot. It's so easy! For example, when we rented the plate compactor I filled it up with .89 of gas. Cheap! Had I turned it in empty though it would have been $3.99 for the fuel surcharge. It doesn't seem like much but it adds up.
  5. Make smart decisions on whether you should buy or rent tools. This is a lesson we learned from my parents who spent a fortune renting scaffolding to build their house before finally breaking down and purchasing a set. Side note: this purchase has worked out quite well for us now that they are done with it and we get to use it for free, or at least I haven't gotten a bill yet from my mother :) Renting tools is pretty economical when you think about what you're getting. However, renting may not be the right choice for you. We opted to buy our chainsaw and when we considered what the daily charge was for the equipment and how many times we would most likely use it.