Cheap, Cheap out, or Save?

I had a conversation with one of my trades about his experiences lately with his homeowners that he deals with, about what they will, or are willing to, “invest” in the renovation/updating of their home. I say “invest” because it should be an appreciable expenditure, and I think that “spend” is a little more reactionary and negative. It seems that there is still a movement to go on the cheap rather than establishing a slightly longer savings plan to provide a larger investment. There’s that word again.
Now, that’s easy for me to say, it’s not my money and not my home, and I have also had to “cheap out” as a consumer. If there is a lesser expensive “thing” that will do the same job as the greater, then why not? The simple explanation is that if “that thing” can be easily replaced when it’s life is over, AND it won’t damage anything else on it’s way, then buy the very best that can be afforded at that time, and put the savings elsewhere. If that thing is a major component, or it will cost a lot to replace, like a bath tub valve behind tile or a foundation or roof, then as painful as it is to see the bill, it is best to bite the proverbial bullet.
Consider cosmetics, as well as function. So often the “pretty” catches the eye and the function is discarded because quality costs more. Know that the hot water tank won’t be the last one that you buy, but it needn’t be so cheap that you wonder if you’re coming home to an indoor pool each night. Safety over cost is another way to look at it.
We’ve also come to a difficult place where the cost to repair is a lot more than replacing – partly because of labour. No, it’s not because we charge a lot of money, it’s because the “new” is so cheap to buy. The number of times that I’ve heard “they just don’t make things like they used to”, can have my pocket full of nickels. It’s true unfortunately. So, maybe there’s something in between; keep part and replace part. A great example of this is the kitchen. Yes, it is the most expensive room in the house (maybe the man cave comes close), mostly because of what’s in it. Consider the “built to last” cabinets. They don’t have the fancy adjustable shelves, and maybe have a lifetime worth of Tupperware lids in that corner that no one can reach the back of, but they’re solid. Real wood. They fit. Taking out the cabinets means the backsplash and floor get damaged, and the countertops have to come off to do that. That’ll mean new countertops to fit the new cabinets, and we can’t (shouldn’t) put that old sink and faucet on a brand new countertops. Now that all looks great, so we may as well get some new appliances since we’re shopping for tile for the backsplash. Oh, the floor had to be re-done. And on it goes.
All of that is fine if that’s where you are at with your investment. New doesn’t always mean better and what about just a coat of paint and some new cabinet doors and drawers and handles. Maybe the countertops aren’t such a bad idea to change because you never did like that colour. Finish it with a tile backsplash anyway. The appliances can wait until they die or that never never payment plan sale is on.
Lastly, consider how long you plan on being in the home. Again, not to cheap out because it is going to be a short time, and that will affect the sale value, but to pace the expenses for renovations and repairs. Be fair and honest with yourself, your home, and your contractor.

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