Before You Call the Handyman: 7 Ways to Save

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By Robyn Woodman

When something breaks, immediately calling the professionals may not make the most sense.

As a homeowner, sometimes it feels as though the constant stream of repairs, upgrades, and replacements is never-ending. Winter maintenance makes for a cozy cold season, especially in cities such as Minneapolis and in other northern towns, while summer is all about staying cool. With all the cash flowing out of your pocket, saving a bit of money with each repair can add up and boost your bank balance over time.

But when something breaks, immediately calling the professionals may not make the most sense. Before you pick up the phone, check out our list for some money-saving DIY home projects.

1. Off-season Repairs

A few repair items have fluctuating prices depending on the time of year. With the arrival of fall, furnace maintenance calls are at an all-time high; the same for gutter cleaning. Why not have these items checked and repaired in the summer, during the slow season? You could score a discount, and you'll feel like a rock star for dealing with them well in advance.

2. YouTube

Often, a bit of research into a DIY repair issue can save you hundreds of dollars. The number and variety of instructional videos on YouTube is mind-boggling. The topic of furnace repair features more than 90,000 videos. Chances are, you're going to find what you're looking for. When you find an instructive and helpful video, consider subscribing to the channel. Next time you take out your tool belt, finding the perfect video will be a snap.

3. Salvaged Material

Building and repairing items with salvaged materials is not only a money saver, it's also environmentally friendly. From lumber to doors, windows, vanities, and light fixtures, pretty much everything can be purchased for a fraction of the price secondhand. Familiarize yourself with the return policy in the event your purchase is not in great working order.

4. Rent/Borrow Tools

DIY is the American way, but the cost of tools can be a huge out-of-pocket expense before you even get started. Rather than buying a tool you're going to use only once, consider renting. Big home improvement stores have a large selection of rentable power tools, all properly maintained and ready to go. Or post a notice on your neighborhood group and ask if anyone would be willing to lend out their shiny new circular saw for your next project.

5. Purchase Materials and Labor Separately

When hiring a contractor, inquire upfront about material cost. Specifically, ask if there will be a markup or if they will be sharing their contractor's discount. If the former, ask for a list and buy the materials yourself. Not only will this probably save you money, but you'll also know exactly what you're getting rather than coming home to a lovingly installed 1970s avocado-green toilet.

6. Manufacturer's Rebates

If you're purchasing major appliances or materials for your home, check the manufacturer's website or store fliers for rebates. Some manufacturers offer rebates on surplus items as well as out-of-season items. Energy-saving appliances also come with additional money-saving opportunities: utility costs. Utility-cost savings are the gift that keeps on giving. Every month, you can reap the benefits of a lower water and/or electricity bill, something you will be happy about if you decide to refinance.

Bonus: Check the IRS website to see if you're eligible for an energy-savings tax credit/deduction.

7. Preventive Maintenance

Regular maintenance can extend the life of your home's major systems. Simply changing the filter on your furnace regularly can make this expensive appliance last longer. Also, the occasional deep clean, debris removal, and visual inspection can keep your home in working order and eliminate many costly home repairs. If you notice a small issue during routine maintenance, deal with it immediately rather than giving it time to become a larger, more costly one down the road.

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