How To Renovate A House With No Money

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Renovating your own home is the epitome of the term labor of love. There can be times when you wonder whether it is all worth the literal blood, sweat and tears you shed during the process. And then there is the expense. Renovation costs can spiral as unexpected problems arise. Contractors and suppliers can let you down. These factors often put people off the idea, especially the cost involved. But this is a shame, as there are ways of approaching the task without needing a pile of money. So, if you’ve been considering fixing up a house but your finances are limited, then you might want to read on for some guidance and advice about budget renovations.

First things first…

Before starting any work, the best thing to do is have a thoroughly good deep clean, everywhere. De-clutter your home completely and get rid of anything unnecessary. Once you have done this you’ll have a better idea of which areas need to be prioritized. It will also allow you to arrange the furniture and fittings to their best advantage once you have finished the renovation.


It goes without saying that the most effective way to drastically reduce the cost of renovation is to do the work yourself. Not only will you save a lot on labor costs, but you’ll avoid the expense of the ‘mark up’ price they charge for materials. Of course, the size of the project has a bearing, as well as your knowledge and experience of some of the tasks involved. Some jobs, like electrical wiring of a switch or plastering, are best left to professionals. But the internet is a brilliant place to find step-by-step instructions on how to do a range of jobs – just pay attention to all safety warnings!

Here are a few examples of things you might want to tackle for yourself, along with some tips on keeping the cost down:

  • Demolition – depending on the scale of your task, you could save a lot by doing this yourself. Obviously, you would need to observe all the health and safety aspects to avoid injury. But why you should incur the expense of hiring someone essentially to just knock down a wall or two? If you do choose to demolish by yourself, be sure to take care not to damage any materials that could be used later or sold/exchanged for things you do need.
  • Painting – one of the best ways to revitalize a space quickly and cheaply. You can also make you own paint, or check out places like Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, or Freecycle you could pick some up cheaply – or even for free. These are ideal places for anyone considering budget renovations. DIY stores also often keep ‘mistints‘ where the wrong color paint has been mixed, and these are sold off at bargain prices. Some recycling centers or hazardous waste dumps have stores of unwanted paint that could be useful. Do not neglect the exterior of your house when painting; this can be the making of a home and add to the appeal, as well as the value.
  • Tiling – while this can be a thankless task, the results can look great. Try to limit the size of the area as tiles can be expensive. While it is a good idea to use reclaimed ones, they need to be good quality. Cheap tiles tend to shatter and are difficult to cut without breaking. Use the places mentioned in the topic above to find some bargains. If you have a local LETS scheme (Local Exchange Trading System), so much the better. This innovative (and sadly underused) scheme allows people to trade without cash. Simply put, people exchange services or goods of similar value, for example, you find someone who has 500 tiles to get rid of, and you ‘buy’ them in exchange for cleaning their gutters.
  • Landscaping – this can be back-breaking work but is worth the effort. Professional landscapers can cost a fortune. With a little planning and imagination, you can transform a garden into a beautiful oasis without the expense. Repurpose, recycle, or upcycle things like old tires and pallets to make planters, seating and tables. Again, use online sources or reclaim yards for items like rocks or railway sleepers (railway ties in the US) to build rockeries or raised beds for a vegetable garden.

Refinish, do not replace!

One great tip for anyone involved in budget renovations is to repaint and refinish items like kitchen cabinets rather than replacing them depending of course on the wood type. Some will need sanding down, others can be repainted. Handles can be replaced if necessary, or you can simply spray them with metallic paint to rejuvenate them. A shiny handle (along with the fresh paint) will trick the beholder into believing that it is a new kitchen! If this doesn’t appeal or isn’t an option, then you could consider ‘refacing’ the cabinets by putting different doors on. Yet again, our old friends Facebook, Craigslist, Freecycle etc. can be of assistance here to keep the costs down. It might be worth ensuring beforehand that you have a decent space in which to store any bargains safely as you come across them. Alternatively, you could use ‘peel & stick’ coverings that resemble stone, wood, and even marble. This type of material is also available as wall panels, and as a handy covering for faded or outdated vinyl floors.

If you are feeling brave you could let your baby do a design, babies have great painting ideas!

Try an upgrade 

Things like kitchen appliances, bathtubs, and metal door handles can become scratched or faded. Replacing these could prove costly, so you might want to think about ways of ‘upgrading’ them instead. Baths can be reglazed, which is a great option for original fixtures. Door handles and kitchen appliances can be sprayed or ‘bronzed’. The deep clean you performed should make them look better, but if not then faux ‘stainless steel’ film can work very well. 

The trick with budget renovations is to appear to have been expensive, whilst having cost next to nothing. These few tips will hopefully give you the confidence to go ahead. The home you deserve doesn’t have to cost you a fortune.