Right now, we’re saving money by virtue of the fact that we’re at a standstill with the renovations. It will take at least another week before the countertops arrives. Until it is in place, we don’t have a sink. Until we have a sink, we’re not going to bring in a plumber to hook up the dishwasher. Somewhere along the way, we want to tile the floors, but not until the counter is done. The waiting is interminable!

Plus, we’re eating a lot of microwaveable food.

In the meantime, I’ve been calculating the cost of the renovation, including how much we’ve managed to save by 1) waiting for sales, and 2) timing our renovation to take advantage of discounts. Including applicable taxes (ah, Canada), I figure we’ve saved over $1,300. The final tally is still out, but it looks like we might be actually coming in under budget!

An anecdote: last week, when the delivery guys brought our appliances, I had a weird conversation with the driver. He asked, “How much did this all cost you?” I started breaking things down – the appliances, the cabinets, installation… He cut me off: “Overall, how much is it going to cost you?” I gave him my ballpark figure. He scoffed. “Man, you paid too much. You could have had the whole thing – cabinets, installation, everything – for just $3,000.” He then handed me a card. I was certain he was going to refer me to his cousin, Vinny. But, no, it was his Sears business card, and he asked me to put in a good word for him. Bizarre.

But it got me thinking about how much we had paid. Did it cost too much? Could we have gotten a better deal? Yes, and no.

Yes, we could have done a lot of the work ourselves. We could have brought in friends of friends to deal with electrical work and installation, paid cash, and avoided taxes. We could have scoured cabinet warehouses and kitchen auctions to find budget cabinets. We could have searched Craigslist for nearly new appliances.

By paying slightly more, what did we gain?

1) Professional expertise, and a job well done in a very short period of time. In a one-bedroom condo, you can’t afford to have tradespeople traipsing in and out for too long, especially when you need to keep the cat locked in the bedroom!

2) Guarantees, warranties, and a paper trail! Our Ikea kitchen is guaranteed for 25 years. The installation, as well as all of the appliances, have a one-year warranty. We have receipts and invoices for everything, and recourse if something doesn’t work out.

3) Future savings. The 2009 Canadian budget includes a tax credit for home renovation work done between January 2009 and February 2010. This is perfect timing for us! If we had paid under the table, we couldn’t claim for the work that has been done.

4) Time. Sure, we took our time in making decisions, visiting various retailers, and finding the best deals to meet our needs. But we didn’t waste time negotiating with Craigslist scammers, or sketchy second-hand stores. We dealt with reputable companies who provided what we expected in a timely manner. Now, we’ve got the kitchen we wanted – sans countertop!

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