Cutting Costs Without Cutting Corners


When it comes to remodels and home improvement, homeowners are always looking for ways to get the best bargain for their buck, and sometimes they cut costs in the wrong places. Finances are tight with everyone, but there are both right ways and wrong ways to trim down a budget, and choosing the wrong way could result in a lot more problems down the road. As any professional knows, you don’t have to compromise quality to save money.

Why We’re Asking

When finances are tight, it’s tempting to cut corners to save money, but that can be both unsafe and end up costing more money in the long run. Our experts know where homeowners can trim their remodel budgets without hurting their projects or putting themselves at risk. Saving money doesn’t have to mean compromising on quality and safety. We want to know how our experts help their clients keep costs down without cutting corners.

So tell us, experts:

How can remodeling homeowners cut costs without cutting corners?

Where do you most often find wiggle room in your clients’ budgets?

Are there any projects that you consistently see homeowners paying too much for?

What projects can be safely done at cut-rate prices, and which should never be compromised on?

Saving money doesn’t have to mean compromising quality, but too often homeowners don’t know when budget cuts are appropriate and when they’re risky. Your advice can help homeowners stay on-budget without cutting corners.

Experts, post your answers in the comment field below!


  1. Homeowners often tend to pay too much for flooring, tile, cabinetry, lighting and home furnishings.

    Interior designers not only provide professional advice, room layouts and recommendations for decorative items inside the home that are the proper scale and size, they can also, depending upon the designer, provide incredible discounts on items for the home.

    At times, clients have called me when it’s “too late” and they’ve already purchased kitchen cabinetry, flooring, tile and other permanent fixtures. If they had hired me to shop with them, they could have saved thousands and in many cases, tens of thousands, which leaves a nice budget for furniture, window treatments and accessories.

    On occasion, budgets go so over the top for building or renovation costs that there isn’t enough budget for quality furniture. Again, if they just called me first…

    When there is a budget for furniture, my clients sometimes have already selected and ordered all of their large pieces and only hire me to decorate.

    Just the other day, a client who wanted me to decorate showed me the furniture he had just purchased. If he had called me first and hired me for an hour or two so I could have sourced this furniture for him, he would have saved $4500 based upon the discounts I could have given him- and that savings was just on the large furniture items for one small room!

    Clients should never cheap out on labor. I’ve seen some of my most beautiful rooms ruined at the very end by a client’s brother-in-law who owns a paint brush. A handyman fooling around with electrical wires? That’s a fire hazard. A cousin installing a gas fireplace? There goes the neighborhood. Yikes!

    As a designer, I do everything in my power to organize, save and help facilitate the process for my clients every step of the way but in the end, my client is “the boss” and I can only suggest.

  2. As with all things, learn all that you can. Try to separate the facts from the hype. Buy as much as you can on sale, with discount coupons, etc. Many materials–brick, stone, lumber, etc. can be salvaged or bought from salvage companies and are often better than what is available new or as new synthetics. Frankly, many building materials, cabinets, architectural details, etc. are just thrown away or hauled to a dump when demolition or remodeling projects are being done. Always ask first, but often contractors are glad to let you haul stuff off.
    Also understand that there can be a big price difference between good and over the top luxurious /top quality. Sometimes buying the very best pays. However,often buying good will meet your needs just as well. And in some cases good is better than “best” as it is less complicated and more durable.
    Do not be afraid to barter. Often a dealer or contractor collects something that they value more than money. Over the yeas I have traded stuff for stuff, stuff for services, services for services, etc.
    Good luck,
    Pablo Solomon
    Artist & Designer

  3. Building a new home is a big investment for most people and at Grand View Builder’s we do our best to make sure the the process is as cost effective to the buyer as possible, without sacrificing safety and sustainability. If there is one area where we recommend buyers do not cut corners, it is building the structure of the home. Even with smaller budgets, it is important to invest in quality roofing and structural materials. By avoiding constant and costly repairs, this investment will undoubtedly pay off in the long run. For security purposes, it is also important to invest in top notch doors, windows and other structural aspects that are meant to provide security.

    In order to help offset the cost of investing in quality structural materials, we recommend our homebuyers opt for less expensive options when it comes to the interior design of the home. There are hundreds of options for everything from flooring and light fixtures to cabinets and knobs. With so many options, it is easy to find quality, less expensive alternatives without sacrificing design. If desired, interior design aspects can be easily upgraded down the road. For example, vinyl flooring is less expensive than than ceramic tiles and hardwood floors, and can easily be replaced by simply laying new tiles or wood on top of the vinyl.

  4. Regardless of finances, it’s always my goal to do my job better with less work. This is of course the basis of saving money. While potential cost savings are everywhere the biggest place to save is in labor and labor related cost. This is especially true when it comes to skilled labor like plumbers, electricians, designers, consultants, carpenters, etc. Find a way to reduce your total labor input and you will save big. The best place to start is planning. A well planned project saves everyone time. Start with the basics. Who needs what, when, where, and for how long? When will you start and when will you end? Make a calendar the shows the days when each trade will perform their task so can avoid paying for multiple trips. Find out what questions the trades will ask you so don’t have to make decisions on the fly and what questions you have so you can get them answered now. By far, the worse time waster is indecision. There is nothing worse than paying skilled people to stand around waiting on a small decision, but I see it all the time. Moreover, I have seen many jobs were the change orders cost more than the original job. Make your plan early, consider potential problems, and then stick to the plan. Your project will run smoother and your expenses will be lower.

    If you need to make drastic cuts, start with things that can be upgraded or replaced in the future easily. Light fixtures, appliances, window treatments, etc. can all be added very nicely after the fact where as your structural elements are hard to change. Plus, these items tend to have the highest mark-up and it pays to give yourself time to shop.

    Regardless of your budget, never compromise on the quality of your labor. Nothing can turn a job south faster than an inexperienced, unprofessional or poorly equipped contractor. Using cheap labor is a major risk even if you know the trades very well. For a homeowner, it’s absolutely reckless to hire anyone who you are not absolutely confident in. The trill of saving money is short, but the pain of poor workmanship will last forever (or until you hire someone to rip it out….).

    Lastly remember that saving money is an honorable and smart goal, but being cheap is not. The surest way to get poor customer service is to try to save money at someone else’s expensive. Look for ways to save your vendors time and effort and you will find them much more eager to lower their price. Also, ask your contractors early on for ideas and tips. Often, a simple change can save you big money.

  5. During a home remodel, there are certain areas where making changes will really affect the cost. With a bathroom or kitchen remodeling project, for instance, sticking with the existing layout is one way to reduce costs where changes may not be 100% necessary. Moving the location of a sink or a toilet requires a great deal of plumbing work, and prices will reflect that. The same goes for lighting or the need for extensive electrical work. Replacing and updating existing fixtures without moving them and changing the layout of the room can be cost-effective while still achieving remodeling goals in many cases.

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