Planning Home Improvement Projects Without Breaking Your Bank Account


Welcome back to the Hey WALT Blog!

You might be thinking- who could be remodeling right before Christmas and the new year? Between the low mortgage rates and more people staying home, remodeling is booming right now. Now is also the perfect time to start making your plans and getting quotes for next year’s projects and…who wouldn’t want a new kitchen for Christmas? I know I would.

The first thing I always think about when we go into any type of home improvement project is how much it is going to cost me and then how much is it really going to cost me when something doesn’t go as planned.

When we purchased our home a little over two years ago, there were some projects that we knew we wanted to get completed. This year’s main project was extending our patio and creating a back yard perfect for family time. Hang in here with me as I give you some tips on how to complete a project in your home without breaking your bank account.

Plan, Plan, Plan!

Planning doesn’t make it perfect, but you can come pretty close. To get started with your plan, here are some key tips.

  • Write it down. By getting what is in your head onto paper, you can really see the details. Draw out what you are seeing and make a list of what and who you need to get the job done. List everything from your budget to your color choices.
  • Research. Talk to your friends and family and get their referrals for contractors. If you have a neighborhood social media page, reach out to your neighbors. Before starting our backyard project, I checked with friends to find a concrete contractor and sod business. After you get suggestions, search. Search for reviews and complaints online and on social media. Also, make sure that your planned project will increase your resale value, not hurt it.

Time is Money.

Be sure to stay within your timeline and your budget. Time can be just as essential as money. Choosing a contractor should also be based on their estimated time to get your job completed.

Be patient.

Yeah, this one is hard. Believe me! First, we had to wait for the contractor to start pouring the concrete, then we had to wait for the concrete to cure, then we had to wait for the sod to be laid, and then we had to wait for the sod to be ready to walk on.

Being patient can save you time and money. If you rush into the project without a plan in place or with a bad contractor, you can set yourself up for a bad outcome. If you are patient in all aspects of your project journey, you can save time, money, and energy, and enjoy that project in no time!

Get the Deals.

If you know me, you know that I have to get a good deal and I really do not like to pay for shipping.

Part of completing our backyard project included buying new patio furniture. Therefore, I did my research, found the furniture we wanted, and looked for a coupon. I could not find a coupon (GASP). We bought the furniture and before they could even ship it, I found a lower price. Many stores’ prices change on a specific day of the week. I’d seen the original sale price on Saturday, but I knew that that this particular store changed their prices/sales on Sunday. Thankfully, this store also offers price adjustments, so I used their chat feature and they refunded me the difference in just a few minutes. I saved $100! I can’t emphasize this enough, use coupons, cash-back sites and always check for price matches and price adjustments.

The Finished Product!

When we bought our home two years ago, we knew we had some drainage issues. Because of the drainage issues paired with two large trees in our backyard, our grass was barely there and all of the dirt was just washing to our neighbor’s house. We also needed more outdoor living space. Here is what our plan was:

  • Extend our patio out 8 feet, down the side of our house, and at the end. When we purchased the house, there were red pavers and tiny rocks making the patio extension and a sidewalk to our gate. We (Um, my husband) saved money by removing the pavers himself before the concrete contractor arrived.
  • Bury pipes to allow water to flow from the gutters to behind our house. Our issue here was that we thought that the two pipes that we were paying the contractors to install were from the gutters, but one was actually from a pipe that was under where the concrete was going. My husband went to our local hardware store, bought a pipe, and dug the trench himself. This allowed us to save money and time waiting on the contractors.

*Pro Tip:  Make sure you and the contractors have a full understanding before starting the project.

  • Install sod in our entire backyard. To save money, my husband and his dad did the dirt work and laid the sod. We realized after our first purchase that we did not buy enough, so three weeks later we purchased another two pallets.

*Pro Tip: Measure before you start any project. We did not buy quite enough sod the second time either, so we had to get creative and build a fire pit in the area that didn’t have any sod.

  • Paint the cinderblocks. The existing paint had eventually turned dull from the drainage issues, so we just added a fresh coat of paint.

We finally finished the project after 2 months of planning and work. The outcome is amazing! (See before and after photos below.) Whether your project is small or large always plan, find ways to save, and be patient.  This will result in a timely and completed project that you can be proud of.

Until next time, keep saving!


After. We do have 4 chairs now. Apparently Adirondack chairs were popular this year!

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