With the holidays (and associated chaos) already here, you probably aren’t putting much thought into home improvement—except, perhaps, to grumble about the fact that you’ll have to cook another meal for your extended family in your outdated kitchen, or to wish that you didn’t have to steer your fa-la-la-ing guests toward your house’s only bathroom with its leaky faucet.
If those complaints sound annoyingly familiar, you may not want to put off thinking about a remodel until the spring. According to Dan Fritschen, a golden opportunity to get a head start on planning the house of your dreams is here, and it goes by the name “Holiday Deals.”
“When many people think about holiday sales, they have visions of sale-crazed hordes trampling each other in pursuit of merchandise, claustrophobia-causing crowds, and a shopping experience that’s so horrible it’s not worth the savings,” acknowledges Fritschen, founder of www.remodelormove.com. “But if you have a remodeling project in mind, you might want to conquer your fears and revise your retail plans.”
Most remodeling projects aren’t cheap—even if you’re going the DIY route. And the super sales that are offered this time of year could realistically take your expenses from budget-busting to reasonable. If you aren’t convinced, consider the cost of a kitchen remodel in which appliances can easily account for 30 percent of the total. Saving just 10 percent on those purchases might bring down your expenditure by thousands of dollars.
“Plus, at this time of year, remodeling supplies aren’t as sought-after,” Fritschen shares. “So you’ll often find that home improvement retailers discount them that much more in order to get consumers’ attention.”
If you’re planning on remodeling your home in the foreseeable future, read on to learn what Fritschen says you should do now to get the most for your money:
Make a list and check it twice. According to Fritschen, most homeowners are shocked by how complicated remodeling actually is. For instance, if you’re redoing your kitchen, you might naively focus the majority of your planning on picking out appliances, cabinets, and countertops…and once work commences, be blindsided by the amount of details you’ve overlooked (think drawer knobs, paint colors, lighting, cabinet hinges, faucet types, disposals, etc.).
“Now’s the time to educate yourself on everything you’ll need for your remodel,” Fritschen says. “Try to formulate as complete a list as possible, including photos so that you won’t accidentally miss any discounts or sales. Years of experience have taught me that autumn and winter are some of the best times to buy, since remodeling ‘season’ usually takes place in the spring and summer.”
The IdeaFile offered by remodelormove.com allows homeowners to collect ideas and photos of items they need and like and save them in categories and tags, to keep them organized for easy referencing. The IdeaFile is saved in the cloud, which gives the user access to their saved photos and notes from any computer or smartphone with the remodelormove.cominterior design app (which is available for both iPhones and Android smartphones).
Go shopping with a strategy. Most retailers publish the details of their holiday sales well in advance, so take a little time to map out where and when to get the best deals. Keep in mind that, thanks to modern technology, you might save the most money if you do your shopping from your trusty laptop.
“If you do have to venture out into the crowds, don’t feel that you need to gear up for a contact sport—most holiday die-hard shoppers are honing in on products like clothes, electronics, and the season’s must-have toys,” Fritschen points out. “You probably aren’t going to have to battle someone else for the last gas range in the aisles of the hardware store…though it never hurts to do your shopping as early as possible.”
Read up on return policies. If you aren’t planning on starting your remodel immediately, check and double-check return policies before buying materials. Especially on big-ticket items, you’ll want to make sure you’re not making an irreversible commitment.
“A thousand little things could change between now and next summer, for example,” Fritschen says. “You might need to change your plans because of budget issues. The product you bought might turn out to be defective. You might simply change your mind and decide that you’d like to go with a different style of light fixture. Make sure you don’t accidentally lock yourself into something you’ll later regret buying!”
Surf the ’Net—but be smart about it. As Fritschen has mentioned before, you may be able to find some of your remodeling supplies online. But before you whip out the credit card and click away, do a little preparation. If possible, Fritschen suggests scoping out big-ticket items in person. For instance, it’s well worth your time to measure the refrigerator you’ve been eyeing and look at it next to the paint and countertop samples you’re considering.
“Pay special attention to shipping fees and, again, return policies,” he adds. “If you have to send something large or heavy back and pay return shipping, it could eat up your savings and more.”
Remember that there’s an app for that! According to an NRF.com holiday spending survey, 33 percent of consumers will use their smartphones to research products and compare prices in the coming month. And if you’re remodeling, you have a great incentive to join them.
“The IdeaFile at www.remodelormove.com can save you time and money,” promises Fritschen. “It allows you to snap a photo of an item in the store and save it to your personal IdeaFile account, along with the price and your thoughts. Then you can surf the Web and visit stores to your heart’s content, taking more pictures and comparing more prices as you go. When it’s time to make a decision, you won’t have to dig through notes or sift through web pages—you can simply access your IdeaFile from your phone or any computer. And best of all, this app saves the location where you got the original information, so you’ll know exactly where to return for the best deal.”
“So, even if you usually stay home, watch holiday TV specials, and bask in the peaceful glow of your home’s holiday décor during the month of December, consider venturing out of your sanctuary if you have a remodel coming up,” concludes Fritschen. “Braving the crowds can save you a surprising amount of time, money, and stress when it’s time to start tearing down walls and installing new appliances next year!”
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About Dan Fritschen:
Dan Fritschen is the creator of remodelormove.com, author of five books on home remodeling, publisher of the U.S. Remodeling Sentiment Report, home remodeling speaker, and the go-to guy when homeowners are struggling with deciding if they should remodel, what they should remodel, how to remodel without losing their minds, and how to get the results they deserve.