How to Save Money On Your New House

Buying a new house is expensive. In order to become a homeowner, you will have a lot of upfront costs, like saving a down payment for a house, your mortgage fees, valuation fees, taxes, and so on. What you probably have not accounted for are all the hidden costs that will be required to turn your new house into a home. While it can be obvious that the bathroom will need some improvement, between light bulbs, a fresh coat of paint, and new furniture, little costs can add up quickly. Here are a few tips to lower your move in costs.

Do the move yourself.

If you are just moving to another part of town, you probably have some friends or family ready to lend a hand. Rent a van for the day, order some pizza, and get going. Storage facilities sell bubble wrap and boxes, although if you go to your supermarket they are usually happy to get rid of boxes for free. You can also find cheaper vans for rent on Craigslist.

Pack and label your things carefully, and explain to everyone that boxes labeled 1 should go to the first room, two to the second room, and so on. Taking a few days off work may lower the pressure to get it all done at once over the weekend. With previous packing, you should get the real moving part in one day. Consider getting rid of any piece of furniture that you don’t plan on using at your new home to save on the van’s size. Your time is precious and so is your friends’ so calculate carefully the size of the van to avoid making lots of trips back and forth. For a little upgrade fee you may save on gas, especially if your new home is quite far away.

Make a list of priorities.

What must you change right now to make the house comfortable? By starting first with the urgent items on your list and working your way down over the first months you will avoid charging your credit card and paying interest on the work.

save money on your house image

Some DIY is really easy…

I am not the handy type, really. But I have painted rooms, hung wallpaper, and Jason even showed how they made a headboard out of plywood. Both tasks are really easy, you just have to ask for advice about what supplies to buy at your local hardware store and you are ready to go.

Another easy thing is electricity. I am now able to install a new switch, or change an old one, or put a new light socket somewhere. Nothing a 5 minutes Youtube tutorial can’t teach you.

Plumbing is much easier than it sounds too. Fixing a leak or a faulty toilet flush is very simple. When you consider the call in fee for a plumber or an electrician, your get a very high return on your time investment.

The last thing anyone can do is change the locks, which I would recommend as there is no way to be absolutely sure the previous owner hasn’t kept a spare. A new lock and a screwdriver is all you need to save about $100 if you call a locksmith.

…but not all DIY!

Sometimes, it is worth calling in a professional, even just to check everything is fine. I am thinking heating system, boiler, AC unit. Consider it a paid teaching lesson. Ask a lot of questions, the first hour is usually a flat rate anyway. Ask when should an inspection take place, if there is any seasonal maintenance that needs to be performed, and how to do it. Hopefully, the previous owner will have left the manuals, if not try to get them online.

Also call someone to check your chimney as it may invalidate your home insurance if you don’t carry an annual professional cleaning and the house burns down.

Find things you can reuse

My house in Guatemala is an amazing example, as it came almost furnished and with a 90 acres piece of land. When my BF first visited it, he told me we had to burn the house down and build a new one. Turns out we are still living in the house and with a few minor fixes it has become really pleasant. Those old pieces of furniture are the only ones we have so far and we are grateful for them. A strange looking little hut was turned into a hen cage. The land provided stones to build a new room, and the cattle fences inside the land were dismantled so we could reuse the wood to make a table, chairs, and part of the deck. We even sold a cattle scale that just sat there for $1300!

If you are lucky, the attic of your new house may be filled with what looks like junk, but can be turned into treasures with a little TLC. Or sold on Ebay for a profit.

Get lots of quotes

With every professional coming over to your place to give you a free quote, you will get suggestions of how to carry your works, as well as ideas to make it even better. Learn from the first contractor and try to appear more seasoned to the next one, the prices will drop if they think you know your topic.

Used items aren’t for furniture only

If this is your first house or you are upgrading to a much bigger one, chances are you will need extra furniture. Garage sales, the local ads paper and Freecycle are great places to start looking for discounted or free used furniture. Beginning of the year and the end of university year when students move out are the best times to get super cheap stuff. And you can really get ANYTHING. I got a free phone, a kitchen mixer and a huge wardrobe on Freecycle, for the price of pickup. I went to a furniture store that I liked, jotted down the references of some pieces I wanted, and found them at about half price on Craigslist. With a little time and patience, you can get a nice starter house, then upgrade progressively with better or new furniture. No item is too small to look for, but consider distance and the cost of gas to pick it up.

Look for used:

  • Beds (if you don’t mind!)
  • Ovens, microwaves, fridges, washers, dryers…
  • Ironing boards, clothe hangers and baskets
  • Kitchen cabinets, coffee tables, kitchenware, shelves, boxes
  • Lawn mowers, snow blowers, toolboxes, drills

With a little creativity, those old pieces of furniture can be rejuvenated to your taste and adapted to your new home, providing huge savings compared to the new price tag.

You can also find discounted construction materials like paint, concrete, iron, window frames… on local ads sites. People buy too much and are left with gallons of paint that they will probably never use, so if you are not too picky on the color you can grab yourself a bargain.

How do you save money on a new house?

Picture by FreeDigitalPhotos.

About the Author

By , on Jan 17, 2013
Pauline Paquin, a French girl who blogs over at Reach Financial Independence. Born and raised in Paris, Pauline writes about how she has been traveling the world for the past 10 years, while trying to build wealth and achieve financial independence, and how you can follow your dreams and reach your goals too. You can follow Pauline on Twitter @RFIndependence.

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{26 Comments}

  1. The one thing you need is a bunch of strong and experienced people at each end. I would let them do the packing and everything (possibly except the most valuable antiques but we haven’t go any!).

    The rest – real estate, legal stuff etc – you can do yourself although the legal stuff is pretty cheap here (typically £300). Generally in the UK the distances are not so great of course (one advantage of living in a relatively small country).

    I’ve never heard of hiring movers at both ends but it’s good idea to try. On the other hand, a full house with big furniture would take a lot of uHaul vans and I don’t have a heavy goods vehicle licence!

    • Pauline says:

      What, £300 for all things legal when buying a home? I remember fees upward of £1,000 when I bought, and already thought that was super cheap! My French buyer paid in legal costs 12% of the sale value!

  2. Great post Pauline! We always try to get lots of quotes whenever we do anything as sometimes the difference in price can be a huge amount of money and let’s face it, that money is better in my pocket than someone elses.

  3. Alex says:

    Great advice Pauline! The do-it-yourself route is cheaper. It may take longer and more effort, but the end result is also something you can take a lot of pride in.

  4. I sold my house recently and I’m proud to say that I did most of it myself and I was able to get my family, and friends to help me a long the way which made everything go much more smoothly.

  5. We’ve gotten pretty good at DIY over the years, and it saves tremendous amounts of money. We can’t do electrical work, but other than that, my husband is pretty handy.

    • Pauline says:

      I thought electrical was much more complicated than it actually is. Unless the wires are already inside the walls. But adding a new plug or switch somewhere is quite easy.

  6. I would definitely say DIY and packing were big money savers for me. Some of these packing and moving companies cost a bleedin fortune. If I’m healthy and ready to rumble, I’ll do it on me own and save the $$.

  7. I rock at moving. at one point, I moved 12 times in 10 years! And great reminder on the chimney cleaning/inspection. I need to get that done ASAP!

  8. I hired movers for $200, otherwise I would have done it myself. I rented the van, too but that was only $60. They loaded/unloaded, I drove the truck (they followed me to the new place) and then I gave them $200 cash. 🙂

    I also agree with prioritizing–I bought my place almost 3 years ago, and I’m just now getting around to some of the renovations I’ve wanted to make all along.

    • Pauline says:

      $200 sounds super cheap! I saw a bunch of ads on craigslist of people basically looking for any maintenance/manual job for a daily rate much cheaper than companies obviously.

  9. Mackenzie says:

    When we moved last year, we did hire movers but my husband was still recovering from shoulder surgery and we have heavy furniture. But we packed everything ourselves and I used any kind of boxes we had, including diaper boxes. I just kept saving them and saving them and they really helped.

    • Pauline says:

      No small savings! Having worked in a self storage facility for a little while I am impressed at the high cost of boxes. They cost next to nothing, I think they sold them at about 6 times their cost.

  10. When we moved from Chicago to Denver we looked into full service movers, but they were going to charge something around $5,000. I am not in college anymore so I can;t just pay friends in beer to help. What I did was rent a uHaul and then hired movers on both ends. One set moved our stuff into the uhaul and another company moved it into our house here in Denver. It only cost me $600 total plus the cost of the truck. We saved over 50% doing it this way.

  11. Brian says:

    My dad and I have a little DIY project this weekend. I had a fuse blow (yes my house still has fuses) because some water had leaked from the bathroom into the basement and through a light. So this weekend we are recaulking the tub and the surround and installing a new light ficture in the basement. From what we can tell there is no major leak and it hasn’t been happening for a while since there is no wood rot. Of course if this doesn’t work, it just means I’ll have to remodel the bathroom a little before I wanted to. Of course it does kind of need an update. 1950’s pink tile just really isn’t my style!

    • Pauline says:

      I wonder what the next generation will think about 2013’s buildings and designs. Pink tiles is definitely something I would want out of my house. Good luck with your project!

  12. Great tips Pauline! The few times we’ve moved we have done it all ourselves with the help of friends and it does save a good bit of money. Not that we can do much, but it does not take long to learn that you can save a lot of money by teaching yourself some things as opposed to paying for it. As long as I can do it with out blowing up the house then I like to try the DIY route. 😉

    • Pauline says:

      On top of the savings, the sense of pride and being able to brag about it is great! 🙂 People are so amazed when I say I changed a plug and many have no idea how simple and easy that is.

  13. We do most of these tips when we move! We used to move ourselves but now we have too much heavy furniture. Now we do most of the packing ourselves and hire professionals only for the big stuff.

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