How to Tackle Home Improvements and Repairs on a Budget.

Home improvement and repairs on a budget

When Melody and I first got our home my first thought was, wow we got a house, and shortly after that my thoughts became damn…..we got a house. The responsibilities of being a homeowner quickly set in. Realizing that home maintenance falls squarely on the shoulders of the homeowner is a sobering revelation. Questions like “ Do I know how to do that?” and “What do I use to do that?” normally come 1 and 2 when facing home maintenance or chores. I won’t be able to direct you on how to perform home maintenance; there are google and youtube for that. But I can share some things we do to save money when buying tools you need to do home maintenance.

It’s always been said that you should use the right tool for the job. I agree with that wholeheartedly, but what do you do when you are a 1st-time homeowner and don’t have any tools? I think Melody and I had a hammer, nails and few screwdrivers from our days in an apartment, that we used to hang pictures and assemble furniture.  Some projects dealing with home repair and maintenance call for more heavy duty or specialized tools. I would like to share with you the two questions that we use to determine if we should purchase a tool or rent it.

1. Is this a recurring or one-time job?

The idea that a job or chore is recurring could justify buying a particular tool. For example, as homeowners, it’s our responsibility to maintain our yard. So the fact that we need to cut our grass more than once justifies buying a lawn mower and other yard tools.

Approaching the purchases with a Broke On Purpose® mentality will, of course, make us save up for the purchase and shop around for the best deal. Between the big box stores, and online retailers great deals are to be had.

Another trick to finding great items at a discount is to buy second hand. Often there are used tools for sale at local tool shops and yard sales. Most of these tools are in good condition and may require little to prolong their life. This method can save tons of money.

Conversely, if the project is a one time job, this could warrant you renting the tools from a shop or borrowing them from family or friends. At one point we explored the option of installing a privacy fence. We examined the cost of having it done by a professional and using a DIY kit and doing ourselves. The fence would require post holes to be dug several feet deep. The ideal tool for the job is an Auger Digger. To buy the tool would cost several hundred dollars. Since it would only be needed to dig the initial holes, this would be an ideal situation to rent the tool. An additional option could be to hire a professional to come in and just dig the post holes, which can save time and money.

There are also “cheap” tool options like Harbor Freight or finding open box and return items at stores. Sometimes, they can be harder to find, but they are worth the search. But always remember that you get what you pay for. A $25 drill can seem like a great deal, but it can’t  be expected to last as long as a $250 drill. More than likely you’ll end up replacing the cheaper drill in no time but while using the cheaper drill put money aside for a better one.

2: Is the job beyond your current skill set?

There should be no shame in admitting that you can’t do something related to repairs or improvements to your home. Especially if the task requires a trade skill like plumbing or electrical, or can be potentially dangerous like roofing. There are tons of ways to research and learn about a project. Google, Youtube and experienced handymen that work at local stores are a wealth of knowledge. But still, sometimes it’s better to call in the professionals. A situation can be made worse by an amateur attempt at a repair or improvement.

There was this one time where I got the bright idea that a paint sprayer would make the job of painting a breeze. When we first purchased our home it seemed like we were painting every other month. After all, it is the most cost-effective home improvement, all it takes is paint, some brushes, and some sweat. So I went out and purchased a paint sprayer because I saw on one of the home improvement shows that the guy painted a room in a few minutes. I imagined that the time savings and ease of use would make the purchase look like a no-brainer. Needless to say that the paint sprayer was a bad idea. My lack of experience with the tool made it a very daunting task. Plus the extra work needed to use the sprayer, like masking off and covering everything, made the experience a nightmare. After escaping that disaster, I’m happy to use the old fashioned method and ensure I do a good job.

Now when calling in the professionals for a job you still want to approach this with a broke on purpose mindset.  Saving for the project should be worked into the monthly budget and multiple estimates should be received.

Another factor to consider is time. Some projects are open ended, but others have a hard deadline. If projects are open ended, like finishing a basement, this project can be done piece by piece after research and tools are purchased.

Jobs that are an emergency like a leak in a roof or burst pipe in a basement justify using the emergency fund, after all, that’s why you have it.

Home maintenance and improvement projects can be daunting tasks, but with the right tools they can be successfully completed and create a sense of accomplishment that will propel you into more home projects with confidence.


1 Comment

  1. July 23, 2017 / 7:36 am

    Great post, Melody! Sometimes carefully outsourcing home improvement tasks to qualified professionals may prove to be cost and time-efficient in the long run. 🙂

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