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Home Improvement Project Tips

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By Author: Jason Delmar
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It shouldn't be a big surprise to hear that a major home improvement project will not only take time and money, but it also takes proper planning to get the job done right. When it comes to planning, probably the most important aspect of the project is buying the materials for the job. By doing a little research you can, not only find the materials you need, but cut some cost and time out of your budget as well.

Shopping around for prices is the single most important part of your planning for the job. This takes time and effort, but you will quickly find out about the wide variety of prices and quality in the market place. The old adage you get what you pay for is very true in the remodeling world. The big box stores have done a very good job of brand labeling by creating their own product lines and making it hard to compare apples to apples at other stores. Since they are designing the products, they are dictating the materials and construction. You might see some good prices, but the quality may very well be lacking.

Don't be afraid to shop online. There are a ton of websites out there that specialize ...
... in various categories that can save you a ton of money since they don't have the high overhead that is associated with the retail environment. When it comes to lumber (2x4's, plywood, etc..) you won't find much of a difference, but for the fixtures, cabinets, lighting, and items like these, you can save as much as 50-60% by doing a little bit of research. There are literally thousands of websites for construction materials. By searching for closeout deals and alternative products to the name brand items, you can easily trim down your budget.

I touched on this earlier, but it is important to take a moment to talk about quality. The big conglomerates that supply the mega home improvement stores do a very good job of convincing you that they have a name you can trust (and that the quality will be there). While there are a lot of categories in which they do offer high quality products, there are some that you are better off getting from a specialty store. One example is paint. If you're buying paint, don't go with the big box retail brand. These stores tell you it is quality paint, but if you go to a real paint store like MAB or Sherwin-Williams; you will get a much better product and they will be more knowledgeable about the product.

The same is true for countertops and flooring. Once again, you can find all of these items in the mega stores, but the quality is just not there. Ironically, Home Depot and Lowes have very little to do with the flooring and countertops other than brokering the sale. They outsource the installation and they certainly don't stock any of it there. If you were to run into a problem with the product or how it was installed, it just becomes of battle of who is at fault. By working with a specialty countertop or flooring place, you can usually find a better deal on some closeouts and you know exactly who you are dealing with when you are signing the contract (it all comes back to the perception that the big stores have created about having the best price on everything, which is nearly impossible in the real world).

The other advantage of dealing with the smaller businesses has to do with the installation. Scheduling deliveries and installs can throw off your entire project time line if just one of the components isn't completed when you need it to be. Time is money, so having an installer that you can rely on is just as important as what you are paying for the work to be done. By working with a local company, they are more likely to work around your schedule than the bigger outfits that will force you to work around theirs.

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