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Category:  Home Improvement

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Five Keys to Remodeling on a Budget

By Pamela Cole Harris

We would all love to remodel our home. The evidence? Just look at the profusion of new programs dealing with remodeling rooms, houses, or yards by neighbors, mothers, complete strangers or your Uncle Mort on a $1000, $500 or $1.98 budget. If you, upon viewing one too many episodes of Trading Spaces, have decided to take the plunge, here are a few tips to ensure your remodeling project is completed under budget.

1. Prioritize your needs and wants. Write down the top ten items you need, then write down the top ten items you want. Put your money towards your needs first, then you can use any extra money for things that you want.

2. So you want granite countertops and hardwood floors? You want wall-to-wall ceramic tile in the bath? Try alternative materials to give you the look you want for a lot less money. Try laminated stone countertops made with thin slabs of bonded granite and laminate flooring to resemble hardwoods or tile.

3. Do as much of the work as you can yourself. There are plenty of websites on the internet that will give you instructions and tips and your local home improvement store will be happy to advise you (especially if you are buying supplies from them!). If you use a contractor, you can save money by removing the old cabinets or flooring yourself.

4. If possible, try not to knock down walls or make other structural changes. Working with existing plumbing, electrical wiring and walls will dramatically reduce the cost of the project.

5 Take your time and have a plan. Taking it slow is the remodeling equivalent of "measuring twice and cutting once." Anything you have to re-do just adds to your total cost.

If you plan your project, take it slow and resist knocking down walls, you should have no problem staying under budget. On the other hand, if you wake up with the overwhelming urge to remodel that bathroom today and an irresistible itch to use a sledgehammer, prepare to open the checkbook and kiss your budget goodbye!

Pamela Cole Harris is an editor, writer, eco-decorator and the author of " 100+ Wildly Imaginative Ways to Create  Your Own Coffee Table (available at ). Visit her website,


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