Easy Ways to Keep Your Design Costs Down

Caitlin Murphy on behalf of Westwood College, offering CAD training in their school of design.

When it comes to designing a new home or remodeling your current abode, odds are you would like to make the space suit your needs and preferences without breaking the bank. Fortunately, interior design can actually be quite affordable if you use certain cost-cutting measures to stay within your budget. Here are eight easy ways to keep your design costs down.

Recycling Centers

Consider looking for used fixtures, building materials and other items at local recycling centers. For instance, check out one of Habitat for Humanity’s 400 ReStores nationwide to find items for half off retail prices. Note that contractors tend to prefer to supply their own materials for liability reasons, so this method only works if you plan on doing some or all of the renovations yourself. Consider donating your own unused materials for a charitable tax credit and to save money on demolition.
Do it Yourself

Speaking of taking matters into your own hands, it is almost always worthwhile to do some of the more menial tasks yourself instead of paying contractors for the work. Even if you have zero construction experience you can still help with demolition, cleaning, sanding and finish work. There is a wealth of information and tutorials available on the internet to learn basic techniques for these tasks. This is also a good time to call in some favors and ask friends and family to help with bigger projects. If you are planning on taking on a number of projects yourself, it may be worthwhile to invest in a utility trailer to transport materials and save on delivery fees.
Consult a Professional

Think about consulting a licensed architect or designer for CAD design plans. Many professionals will offer this help for a fraction of the cost of their full services. Having a professional create plans with CAD design software gives you a construction road map that  ensures the final product is aesthetically pleasing and also up to code. This can be a great middle ground between the risks of doing the work entirely by yourself and the cost of hiring a professional for the entire project.


Long-Term Costs

It is worthwhile to pay a little more money up front to reduce costs down the road. If your home design process involves purchasing new appliances, for instance, look for energy-efficient models that will keep your monthly electric bills down. Installing new windows? Buying double-paned options will reduce your heating and cooling bills. Likewise, opt for materials that will require less future maintenance, such as pre-primed and pre-painted clapboard siding. You may pay as much as 20 cents extra per foot now, but the siding will need half as many paint jobs during its lifetime.
Bring out the Light Fixtures

Recessed light fixtures may look great, but they can drive up your design costs in a hurry. Getting recessed lights installed costs money for labor to cut out the holes and properly insulate them, and the lights themselves provide limited wattage. Instead, opt for wall- or ceiling-mounted lights; they cost less to install and provide more light per fixture, meaning you can get away with fewer total lights. Avoiding recessed lights can save you plenty of money on the lighting portion of your renovation project.
Avoid Premium Time

Contractors tend to be busiest during the height of the summer and between September and Christmas. Starting in January, though, they are looking for more business, and that means you have the upper hand when it comes to getting a deal on your home design. It is not uncommon for contractors to offer discounts of five percent or more during the winter and spring months, so schedule your renovation for that time and keep the price down.
Plumbing Costs


If your new layout requires moving the toilet or the kitchen sink, see if you can adjust the plans somewhat to keep them where they are. Moving either one more than a few feet can cost thousands of dollars. If there is no way to avoid this expensive plumbing work, take the opportunity to update the pipes as well. You’ll defray the cost by saving money on future bills and maintenance.


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