Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Remodeling Notes: One Size Fits All?

In our first home, we made an expensive mistake. I bought a used pedestal sink for $10, only to discover that it required a special-order faucet.

We learned a valuable lesson about remodeling: architects design for beauty, not budget. Custom-built cabinets, wider tubs, and taller windows cost more for installation and accessories.

Planning a project with standard size units or fixtures saves money. Will you end up with a run-of-the-mill house? Not necessarily.
  • Upgrade materials with the money you’ve saved.
  • Keep the background basic and invest in things you can take with you.
  • Antiques, fine art, and quality furniture may give your home enough “custom detail” to transcend its standard roots.

This concept carries over to much of frugal living.

My mother-in-law, an artist, learned the hard way that custom framing is expensive. Now she chooses a ready made frame, selects a standard size canvas to fit, and then begins her work.

Likewise, a secondhand car with easy-to-find parts will always be cheaper to maintain than its specialized counterpart.

A man who can wear a 40 R suit and a woman who can slip into a size 8-12 can dress like a million for less—secondhand shops are packed with great buys on standard size clothes.

(I’m still working on this one, though!)

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