For the vast majority of homeowners, renovating entails balancing what you want and the financial resources you have available. Professional renovators suggest a number of approaches that can help to stretch your budget.

Set Priorities

Cost-wise renovations begin with defining clearly what you want to accomplish to be sure that you are covering all the important requirements. The whole household should be involved in the planning process - what is really needed and what would be "nice to have"? How will your needs change over the years? Discuss your ideas in detail with your renovator, who can offer sound advice on costs and approaches.

Look closely at what you already have

Professional renovators can help you discover the hidden assets of your home. For instance, homeowners sometimes assume that they need extra floor space when all that may be needed is more effectively designed space. By rearranging interior walls, eliminating separations and installing larger windows, the renovator can often create the sense of spaciousness and light you want.

Look under existing carpeting and sheet flooring

Old hardwood is often of high quality and can be refinished. If your old trim and doors are in good shape, they can be refinished rather than replaced. Likewise, you may be able to resurface your kitchen cupboards instead of installing new ones, or perhaps you can "recycle" hardware such as knobs and handles.

Do the work in stages to suit your budget

Phasing the work allows you to achieve the results that you really want without undue financial pressure. Your professional renovator can help develop a master plan with proper sequencing of tasks, timelines and expected costs.

Product substitution can extend your budget

You don't want to compromise on the overall quality of your renovation. However, where performance is not affected, you can consider using less expensive alternatives - 32 oz. carpets rather than 43 oz.; ceramic tiles instead of slate or marble; 4 inch baseboards rather than 7 inch; and alternative exterior cladding, to mention a few possibilities. Your professional renovator can advise you on how to get the best value for your money.

Consider capital versus operating costs

Water-conserving fixtures will save a considerable amount of money over time in areas with water metering. Likewise, energy-efficient lighting, high-efficiency heating systems and electronic thermostats mean long-term savings. Professional renovators are up-to-date on the latest technologies and can provide you with the information you need to make wise decisions for the long term.

Do some of the work yourself

If you have the skills and the time, you can stretch your renovation dollars by taking on some of the work yourself. Generally, renovators recommend that you leave structural and mechanical renovations to the professionals, but many homeowners can competently do their own painting, landscaping or other finishing jobs. Talk to your renovator about the effect of do-it-yourself work on scheduling and the renovator's warranty.

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