Getty Images

Renovations on a $5,000 budget

At first glance, doing meaningful home renovations for $5,000 is akin to those travel guides for “Europe on $10 a day”: easier said than done. Yet, like the backpacker who squeezes every penny from their budget to travel the globe, affordable renovations are not out of reach if you spend your nickels and dimes wisely.

According to Bob Weir, vice-president of operations with Calgary’s Reborn Renovations, making improvements with $5,000 certainly narrows your options, but it can be done.

“It really depends on your home and your goals,” said Weir. “If everything else has been upgraded and you still have some outdated maple cabinets, $5,000 will let you refinish them. On the other hand, if it’s an older house, you might just address some odds and ends like squeaky floorboards, doors that don’t work properly or lights that need changing.”

While a complete upgrade of the cabinets and total home re-painting would be more in the $10,000 – $15,000 range, with $5,000 you can start ticking off smaller projects on your laundry list of neglected items.
Given that limited budget, Weir’s first choice would be a fresh coat of paint in some rooms or a colour change so your home “smells nice and you don’t see marks all over the walls.”

Painting would also be the first choice for Vaughan Wallace, owner of Calgary renovation company Wallace Fleming.

“In a typical mid-century bungalow or four-level split, $5,000 could cover painting of interior walls, and it’s one of the most efficient uses of renovation dollars if your budget is limited.” – Vaughan Wallace, Wallace Fleming owner

“In a typical mid-century bungalow or four-level split, $5,000 could cover painting of interior walls, and it’s one of the most efficient uses of renovation dollars if your budget is limited,” said Wallace.

When it comes to conventional renovations, Darwin Bond, owner of Bond Construction in Calgary, says $5,000 won’t go far.

“For enhancing resale value, kitchens and bathrooms are the most popular projects,” said Bond. “A bathroom renovation with new tub and tile will run you $10,000 – $15,000, and replacing kitchen cabinets is in a similar range.”

Yet, who says you have to go the conventional route? Bond certainly didn’t when he recently started a second company called ECOsmart Calgary, which offers some budget-friendly upgrade ideas.

“Our focus is improving your home through energy efficiency,” he said. “For $5,000, you can complete a host of enhancements, including replacing old energy-wasting light bulbs and fixtures with new low-wattage, LED versions, installing low-flow toilets and shower heads, and replacing leaking and dripping taps that waste water.”

Clients can find a full list of upgrades at ecosmartcalgary.ca, but the common theme is maximizing energy efficiency, so you’re not wasting money needlessly on power and water.

“Just last week, I saw a home with 21-litre toilet tanks. People don’t realize how much water they’re wasting compared to a three- or six-litre tank, or what a difference it can make to switch from 100-watt incandescent lighting to LED lights between two and five watts. It might not be a huge thing for newer homes, but if your house is 20, 30 or 40 years old, $5,000 in energy improvements will pay for themselves in just a few years.”