Brian Peppel, a homeowner in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania, attends one building-supply auction each month in nearby Lancaster County. His recent finds include two pallets of concrete block for $10 and a solid-wood prehung exterior door for $65. "Their inventory is everything under the sun, a lot of scratch-and-dent, misordered custom items, or new overstock supplies," reports Peppel. He once watched the auctioneer's gavel fall on a large, custom-made triangular window with an original retail value that he pegs at several thousand dollars. The winning bid? $1.
Before you decide how extensively to renovate, you need to know what your end goal is for your home. Are you renovating to raise the resale value of your home, or will you be staying put for years to come? Consider the condition of your neighborhood before you begin, and know which renovations are a good return on investment, and which will be considered overdoing it for the area. Having a specific plan in place for your future will help you decide how deep to go with your project. Plus: 11 Important Things to Do When Planning to Sell Your Home
Brian Peppel, a homeowner in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania, attends one building-supply auction each month in nearby Lancaster County. His recent finds include two pallets of concrete block for $10 and a solid-wood prehung exterior door for $65. "Their inventory is everything under the sun, a lot of scratch-and-dent, misordered custom items, or new overstock supplies," reports Peppel. He once watched the auctioneer's gavel fall on a large, custom-made triangular window with an original retail value that he pegs at several thousand dollars. The winning bid? $1.
Painters generally don't expect tips, especially if you've hired a small company where the boss and his brothers are painting your house. Tipping is a must, however, if you ask a painter to touch up that little scuff on the dining room wall, which wasn't in the original contract. Most painters will oblige, and you should reward their generosity with a $15 to $20 tip if the extra work takes an hour or less.

Remodelers can do some amazing things, but they can't read minds. "Let the company supervisor or project lead person know if anything is unsatisfactory so they can deal with the issue," says Jeff Hurst, a Certified Remodeler (CR) and president of Hurst Total Home, Inc., in Kettering, Ohio. "The contractor may not be aware that something is not OK with the owner."


Unless you've got loads of time (and expertise) to spend on your project, the best way to add sweat equity is up front, by handling your own demolition, or at the back end, by doing some of the finish work yourself. "If you want to save money, dig in and start helping out," says Tom Silva. "You can insulate, you can paint, you can sand." Or better still, he says, help with cleanup every day. "Instead of paying someone to pick up sawdust off the floor, put your money into the time it takes to trim the window properly," he advises.
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