The Real Difference Between Cutting Costs and Cutting Corners

Your home is your biggest asset and to retain and build its value, you need to maintain it. This means routine maintenance to keep the building envelope (roof, exterior walls, cladding, windows) in working order, and it also means renovations to keep your home current, to address wear-and-tear issues and to ensure the home has the proper flow and function.

Many people have a hard time bringing their renovation vision in line with their budget, and in order to splurge on the things they think they really need, they cut corners on the things that really matter. Unfortunately, cutting corners never saves money in the long run. Here’s why:

1.       Cutting corners is dangerous:

Discovering a leaking pipe or faulty wiring when a wall is opened up, or finding out that your sewer line is clogged with roots, is disappointing and costly. It’s tempting to just close up the wall, ignore the line and cover up problems like this in order to afford that hardwood or granite you want in your kitchen. Cut that corner and you’ll pay even more when black mold renders your house inhabitable, your yard needs to be trenched for the sewer line or a fire threatens your family.

Never put your family, or the family that will buy your home, in danger. Your life is worth more than a beautiful slab of maple hardwood. Scale back on other areas of your renovation and take care moisture entry issues, damage to the building envelope, pipes, plumbing and electrical. If you are fixing up the house to sell it and you cover up these issues, they will be revealed in a home inspection and damage your ability to sell the house for the price you want – if at all.

2.       Cutting corners erodes your equity:

You are not saving money by having your uncle’s third cousin twice removed that knows nothing about construction tackle your renovation. Sure, he’ll work a lot cheaper than an experienced, qualified, licenced, insured and bonded contractor, but you get what you pay for. Shoddy work devalues your home. Worse, if an accident occurs and your cheap “contractor” is injured or damages your property, you have no recourse.

 Having your renovation done right by a qualified contractor costs more upfront, but saves you money, time, repairs, insurance claims and possible liability issues (real contractors are trained in how to use power tools, ladder safety, etc.) in the long run.

3.       Cutting corners is not the same as compromising:

Compromising is relaxing your vision of having the best of everything in your renovation if you truly cannot afford it. Rather than fixating on things like solid hardwood flooring and that sweeping chandelier you want to import from Italy for your dining room, consider other options. For example, engineered hardwood does not require the strict humidity control and maintenance of solid hardwood. It costs less and looks just as nice. For accessories and special design touches, your contractor or design specialists may buy items in bulk from a manufacturer, and pass those savings on to you. Be open to ideas and products in order to get the look you want, on the budget you have.

The bottom line is this: cutting corners saves you money now, but costs you more than you would have spent later. When you compromise your home renovation, you compromise your asset, your equity and can put your family in physical and financial danger. With an open mind, listening to and hiring qualified contractors, and having a budget with a contingency for those unexpected things that pop up, your renovation dream can become a reality.