The sprinklers running after seeding the yard.

How You Can Save Big Money On a Home Remodel

Home Remodel Savings

A home remodel can be a very stressful time during home owner ship. One of the reasons is because of the enormous costs that come with any home renovation.

Over the past month, my wife and I decided to do a home remodel to our outdoor living space, the backyard. And, yes, landscaping counts as a home remodel. 😀 I believe it counts because it does affect your overall home value. If you do not believe me, just look at the before photos below. The yard used to have astroturf, ASTROTURF! Who puts in basic astroturf when they own two big dogs? It smelled so badly!

Before photo of the side yard.

Before photo of the side yard.

The main backyard before the home remodel

The main backyard before the home remodel

Another view of the backyard before the renovations.

Another view of the backyard before the renovations.

A Quick Backstory

This renovation consisted of some major work. The previous owner put rock in the backyard. All rock! This was nice on the water bill but no fun for us or the dogs. We wanted to get some grass in the yard to soften things up a bit. So we set out to clearing EVERYTHING out of the backyard.

This required moving 11 tons of rock, brick, astroturf, timber, and then more rock out of the yard. Once cleared out I spent an evening moving in 9 yards (about 4 tons) of better soil for the garden and grass areas. Because of the savings, I was able to put in a sprinkler system to help water the new grass and garden.

Overall, I had $4,000 budgeted for our backyard. In the end we came in $400 under that budget. This is even after adding in that sprinkler system to the project scope.

How I saved over $4,000 on Our Home Remodel

As you can see this home renovation required a lot of work. Below you will find many different ways that I used to save over $4,000 on our own home remodel. Hopefully some of these you can apply to save on your own home remodel.

DIY – $3,600 in Savings

Labor cost are a massive cost to any home remodel. When I was a landscape designer we typically would double the material costs to figure out the labor costs. Overall, our project cost us $3,600 so by renovating the backyard instead of hiring someone else, we instantly saved $3,600.

Doing the project can save tons of money but you need to be careful. There are projects you should hire a professional for such as electrical work. Thankfully for our project, I was the professional with several years of residential landscape design and construction experience.  If you are uncomfortable with a piece of your project, do not attempt it. The mistakes you make could cost you more in the long run.

This being said, you do not have to hire out the whole project. Let’s say you are having your kitchen redone. Communicate with your contractor so you can do pieces of the home remodel yourself. You could lay the hardwood floor on the weekend or painting the walls in the evening. Doing pieces of your home renovation can still save you tons.

$60 in Pizza and Beer Costs – Totally Worth It!

Along with DIY projects comes the need for additional help. The need for me came when I had to wrap up the demo work of the backyard. It was time to phone in some friends and family.

Food and beer are amazing currency to get friends and family to help out. I had a lot of assistance from both during the project. During the demo stage Andrew and my brother came over to move the remaining six tons of material out of the back yard. Later on I had my step dad and brother help with the copper work to get water from the house to the sprinkler. Then my Dad came to help me set up the sprinkler lines.

Manual Labor vs. Renting Machines – $190 in Savings

I must confess, I did not know about Fluid Market until Andrew wrote about it in his Fluid App Review – Make Money Renting Your Stuff Out Instead of Selling It. If I had known about this sweet app, I could have rented a tiller or trencher for an a lot better price. Oh well. Maybe for when we redo the front yard.

Instead, I opted out for good ole’ manual labor. Initially the plan was to rent from Home Depot a tiller and a trencher. To rent both of these would have cost me $200. This is when I decided to manually do the work these machines perform and to purchase a $10 bottle of Ibuprofen saving me $190.

The trenches are dug!

The trenches are dug!

Offer It Up For Free – $135 in Savings

To save on haul away costs post unwanted items on Craigslist or Nextdoor (see Andrew’s post on How to Sell Something on Craigslist for help). For the home remodel I rented a giant dumpster for $300. Sadly I was limited to only five tons to put into it or else I would suffer a $45 fine per ton. Looking at the backyard, I knew we had WAY more tonnage than that.

This is when I decided to move some rock to the side of the house instead of throwing it out. It is dead space anyways so it worked out perfectly. There was also the issue about the three tons of brick that needed to go. In the past I had heard of people giving up items on Craigslist or Nextdoor for free as long as the items were hauled away by the recipient.

So, I hopped on Nextdoor to offer the brick for free. After a day, two people wanted to come pick up the material. I gave it to the first person who contacted me. At first I was really nervous about this but it turned out to be an amazing experience. We got to meet some awesome neighbors who ended up taking the timbers as well.

Find Recycled Items – $297.65 in Savings

The side yard is complete!

The side yard is complete!

During the process, I tried to recycle as much material as possible.

Firstly, there were about two tons of river rock that I was able to recycle. This river rock costs $38.95 per ton and delivery would have been $76 resulting in about $153.90 in savings. Also, recycling the rock saved $90 in haul away penalties.

On top of recycling the rocks for the home renovation, I was able to recycle twelve cinder blocks costing $1.65 each.

Finally, I was able to pull about a cubic yard of good dirt from the side yard when regrading it. This saved me $33.95 of dirt to buy.

Overall I saved $297.65 by recycling these materials.

Patience – $440 in Savings

Sometimes there are ways to save a lot of money by just being patient. We had the choice of either seeding our new lawn or using sod. I chose to use seed because it would save nearly $500. Instead of having the instant gratification, I chose to save money with patience.

This one is still up in the air as the grass has not even began to grow yet. Also, since the rains have come in over the last 15 days a lot of rock has floated to the surface. So, I might end up getting sod after regrading/removing all of that rock. I’ll keep you posted on this!

Energy Efficiency or Water Wise Rebates – $100 in Savings

When shopping around look for components to your home remodel that might have rebates for being energy or water efficient. These rebates can be sponsored by the federal government or even your local city government. Many times there will be rebates when putting in a new heater or air conditioner. I found one sponsored by the city and county of Denver for our new B-Hyve sprinkler timer.  This rebate covers the whole cost of the timer because it is water wise. It connects to NOAA and knows if it should delay the sprinkler schedule based on the forecast. This in the long run should save us more money on our water bill.

The sprinklers running after seeding the yard.

The sprinklers running after seeding the yard.

Totaling Up the Home Remodel Savings!

Overall, we were able to save $4,702.65 on our home remodel! All of this was done by some good hard work, help by friends and family, offering unneeded items for free, and recycling other materials. It feels good to have this project done! Now we just have to wait for the grass to come in. It feels good to have checked off a goal from my Self-Improvement – Get Rid of Distractions Right Now article.

Now it’s your turn to go save money on your own home renovation.

Missed Opportunities In Savings

I did not do any couponing or price shopping during this project. I only bought items from Home Depot and because of the season everything was fun price. This would have been a grand opportunity to grab pieces on Amazon and saving using the Honey Application, see my Couponing at Its Best Using the Honey App article. Or I should have been using some of the applications I talked about during my 7 Ways to Save Money on Groceries article.

This was a huge mistake that I made. It might have only saved me $10 or it could have saved me another couple hundred dollars. We will never know.

At least you can learn from my mistake.

Do you have any home remodels coming up?

2 replies
  1. The Giving Budget
    The Giving Budget says:

    Remodeling is one of the most fun and also scariest things as you never know sometimes what you will end up spending! I like how you were able to do some good hard work in order to get money saved!

    Hope the grass grows well! I’m not sure it would have helped a ton as it sounded like you had too much moisture. But around here anytime someone plants grass they put some straw on top to hold it in and also hold moisture in so the seeds grow! Just a thought!

    • Adam
      Adam says:

      You are right! It was a lot of fun to learn so much new stuff like putting in a sprinkler system but it was nerve racking at the same time.

      The grass is coming in nicely! I thought about the straw but decided against it this time around. Thanks for the idea though!

      – Adam


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