The key to a profitable renovation is seeking out the maximum return for the minimal investment. Fortunately, there are many deals to be had, even in a bad economy. You just have to know where to look. Most towns and cities have some kind of home supply liquidation store. These places take overstock and lightly used items and sell them at a big discount. Windows, doors, molding, drywall, vanities and kitchen islands can all be had for a fraction of the price you'd pay at the big-box store.
Having the right tools is also incredibly important. You don't want to use a handsaw for a task that requires a circular saw. If you don't own a stock of tools, many hardware stores offer tool rentals, as well as advice on how to use them. If you want to get into more home projects, consider buying some major tools, but if it's a job that requires a specialty tool, then you should rent.
Look to your big-box retailer for free classes on home renovation projects. They instruct you in everything from tiling and laying wood flooring to hanging drywall and building a fence. There are also a dozens of TV shows aimed at the DIY-er that provide helpful tips and how-to's for the adventuresome homeowner.
You can also save big bucks by buying used. Go to salvage yards, flea markets and garage sales -- nothing is off-limits as long as they're selling something you need for cheap. Other DIY-ers leave perfectly good used building materials on the street for the taking, so keep your eyes out in your neighborhood for that old nine-panel interior door that would be perfect for your bungalow's office.
The Internet is another outstanding resource. EBay, Craigslist and Freecycle are the trio to go to as far as finding great used materials. You can also hit Craigslist to find an inexpensive handyman, plumber or electrician. Just make sure they're licensed and check references first; remember that you generally get what you pay for, and you can spend more money in the long run fixing the work of a bad handyman. If a hired worker won't furnish references and a written quote, walk away and find someone who will.
If you're ready to begin the work to upgrade your home, see some links on the next page that can also help with your project.