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Avoid the “Money Pit” Syndrome

Back in 1986 Tom Hanks and Shelly Long starred in a movie called “The Money Pit”. It begins when they buy a big, grand, dream house in the New York countryside. It is, of course, too good to be true, and before long they realize that all the repairs necessary might result in disaster. They run in to everything from collapsing stairs, to bad wiring and 4-legged house guests.  Every little project is supposed to take  “Two weeks” but then they drag on and lead to more and more work. This of course is great for a movie but if you’ve ever had any of these things happen to you, it’s not so great in real life.

Home Remodel - PaintJust like in the movie, a remodeling project can become expensive very quickly without you even realizing it. But anyone who has ever watched HGTV knows that there are lots of ways to cut costs… from secondhand stores to doing a lot of the work on your own…

The key is knowledge.

  • Knowing where to get the best prices
  • Knowing when you can use or reuse secondhand materials
  • Knowing how to do the project yourself.

And fortunately, with the internet knowledge is easy to come by.

How Much Work Is Needed?

Planning ahead to determine the extent of the repairs necessary is always the best place to start. Look at the area in the home that you want to remodel. If there isn’t anything wrong with the large structures, don’t make the job bigger than it has to be. Perhaps all you need is to consider changing the colors or the decor. This can give any room a new look you wouldn’t expect it to. Paint the walls a different color by going from light to dark or dark to light. You can also add wallpaper or a tile back-splash behind a sink or along the edge of a counter. New wall decorations can also give a fresh look without you having to spend a lot of money.


This is an area where you can save money by doing the work on your own, or getting a few friends to help. Most contractors almost always tear off the old shingles. This involves a lot of extra work and disposal of old materials. If your old shingles haven’t curled yet, you might be able to just add a new layer over the top. This is easier than starting from scratch because you can follow the pattern of the old layer.   The key is knowing how many layers are already there. Generally the limit is three because of all the extra weight.

Look at hardware stores and big-box home improvement centers for the best price on shingles to use on the roof. Depending on the style of your house you might consider metal or Ondura which go up faster than shingles since they are in larger sheets. If your roof has lots of peaks and valleys though, you are unsure of yourself, or your back isn’t up to carrying loads of shingles up to the roof, you might be better off calling in a professional like D.S. Bahr Construction, Inc. rather than ending up with something that doesn’t look quite right.

Windows and Doors

Leaky windows and doors not only make your home look bad but they also cost you money every month in extra heating and cooling bills. Replacing leaky single pane windows with double pane windows can save you enough in utilities to pay for the windows in a few short years. And believe it or not replacing them is actually easier than putting on new shingles! There are only a few nails holding the entire window unit in and then a little bit of trim. There are lots of  YouTube videos to show you how simple it is.


When you remodel the home, don’t just think about the money spent. This can limit some of your options. Think about the overall value the new look will give to the home. If you can increase the value without spending a lot, it will make it easier to sell the home in the future. Likewise a poorly executed remodel can actually decrease your home’s value.

A simple remodeling project can liven up any space, but you need to think about the cost associated with it. Look at secondhand stores for furnishings and building materials, consider how your project will affect your utility costs and or home’s value and do plenty of research before you start.

Image Courtesy of Seeman @ Morguefile.com

About Tim McMahon

Work by editor and author, Tim McMahon, has been featured in Bloomberg, CBS News, Wall Street Journal, Christian Science Monitor, Forbes, Washington Post, Drudge Report, The Atlantic, Business Insider, American Thinker, Lew Rockwell, Huffington Post, Rolling Stone, Oakland Press, Free Republic, Education World, Realty Trac, Reason, Coin News, and Council for Economic Education. Connect with Tim on Google+