Learn how to use promo codes and discounts to build your dream home on less.
I’ve been wanting to write this post for a long time, about an accomplishment that my wife and I still look back on with fond memories more than five years later.
It was 2010 and we were still newlyweds…living in my mom’s basement. We were saving up for a house and were actively looking but didn’t want to put ourselves deep in debt for the next 30 years.
Then we found it, a house in the neighborhood that had been abandoned for two years. It was rough, like just bring in a bulldozer rough, but a list price of just $25,000 meant we would have $15,000 to fix it up.
Of course, it was going to cost much more than $15,000 to remodel but the potential was just too tempting. Buy a home for cash, remodel it and own free-and-clear with no debt.
From Black Friday deals to member discounts and becoming masters of the promo code, we were able to turn the house into our dream home for under $70,000 including the purchase and remodel. We ended up selling for $114,000 in 2013 for a profit over forty-thousand dollars.
This is how we did it.
How we Made $44,000 and Created Our Dream Home
We knew it would take years to remodel our new home if we couldn’t find materials on sale or at steep discounts. The home was nearly 100 years old, foreclosed and vacant for years and would need to be completely gutted.
The tear down was the ‘easy’ part. My wife and I spent two months tearing out lathe and plaster, insulation and even much of the old wall structure. Besides the four dumpsters we filled, the only cost was our time.
You wouldn’t believe how much building materials cost! Lumbar for wall framing, the stuff that grows naturally in forests all over, was going to be thousands by itself. I knew how to do the electrical from my rental properties and could do some of the carpentry but materials were going to be the real budget-buster.
Home Depot regularly ran discounts in the paper but there was a Lowe's just a few blocks from the house. That would make delivery and all those back-and-forth trips so much cheaper but we had to find a way of saving on materials prices.
That’s when we got PhDs in discounts and promo codes.
By spreading the remodel out over 18 months, we were able to wait for the best prices and stalk all the promo code websites for deals. We were actually able to get all our new insulation free by buying more than we needed on a Black Friday door-buster and then selling the extra on Craigslist for twice what we paid.
So, how did we save $44,000 in less than a few years on our home?
- We gave ourselves as much time as we needed to find deals. This meant spending 18 months searching builders’ reclamation warehouses, Sunday paper inserts, store discounts and promo code websites.
- We stayed flexible on what we wanted, letting the best deals on materials design the house. For example, we didn’t go out looking for just one type of counter or kitchen sink. We kept our eyes open for any type of counter or sink that we liked and on discount.
- We did as much of the work as we could. After the tear out, I rewired the entire house and helped with framing. I did all the tile work and flooring and my wife did the painting and finishing fixtures. About the only thing we didn’t do, at least partly, was plumbing.
How to Get Your Own Discounts and Promo Codes at Lowe's
Saving as much money on a home remodel is a matter of learning where to find all the best discounts and then waiting for the deals to open up. This includes using store-wide discounts, third-party coupons on specific brands, member discounts and anything else you can find.
The good thing about remodeling your house is that it allows you to create your ideal space and address all the issues that you want to be fixed. It can be exhausting so you have to carefully plan and lay out your ideas firsthand so you know you are making the right decisions in every step. For me, it’s also important that you have clearly fixed your mind on it to give it a go because it won’t be just a small DIY project but a house remodeling where you and your family rely on.
In remodeling your house, make sure you can oversee the entire process and manage the whole thing. Is it something worth investing your time, money and effort on? Having these questions answered beforehand will help you decide. Once you have decided to give the go signal, have a clear vision on what you really want for your home. Another good side of being hands on in remodeling your house is that you can easily adjust the process to whatever way you want it to look. I would still say that remodeling your own house is worth investing your time, energy and money to especially if you meet the quality of work you are hoping to last for a long, long time.
While I’m talking about getting discounts and promo codes for Lowe's, the ideas here can apply to just about any store.
Your first stop is always going to be the store’s own website. Of course, it’s usually tough finding the real deals just looking at the homepage. Most stores put their most popular and highest profit products on the homepage in a jumbled mess of images.
Scroll down to the bottom of the page to find the site menu with all the links you need. Lowe's runs a weekly ad as well as a rebate program.
You don’t want to stop at just the website. Make a note of the best offers and discounts. You then want to check out the promo code sites to compare and see if you can find any special discounts.
There are several coupon sites but you’ll see a lot of the same discounts on most of them. It’s always a good idea to check out a few but we found the best deals on Dealspotr and RetailMeNot, usually not finding what we needed.
The way these promo code sites work is members in the community upload the coupons they find and referral codes from friend-family discounts. You’ll also find third-party coupons for specific brands. Most retailers will offer a store-wide general discount coupon but you can also find bigger discounts on brands and sections of the store.
Here’s the Lowe's page on Dealspotr. To find any retailer, just use the search bar or browse the ‘Stores’ menu button.
Dealspotr allows you to filter by type of code, so single-use codes and other types of promos. One super-helpful feature is the site will tell you when another user has ‘validated’ the code. This means they’ve used it at the store to confirm that it works. We wasted a lot of trips to the store before learning how important it is to make sure a code works.
Once you’ve found a promo code:
- Go back to the store’s website and add the product to your online cart
- Copy the promo code on the deal website, either right-click and copy or some will have a button you can click
- Go to checkout on the store’s website and look for the promo code box before paying, usually it says “Enter Promo Code”
- Savings should be automatically deducted from your price at checkout
Most of the promo code websites work this way. I like RetailMeNot (Lowe's page here) as well but if you’ve got the time, it pays to check a few sites.
The Coupon and Discount Matching Trick
Another trick you’ll want to try is coupon or discount matching. Some stores will match competitor discounts on the same products so get in the habit of checking a few stores on promo sites, i.e. checking for Home Depot codes as well as just those specifically for Lowe's.
Finally, you might want to ‘follow’ a store on Facebook or Twitter if you’re going to be buying a lot. Stores will regularly advertise discounts on social media before other forms of advertising. The promo code sites often offer bonus rewards for signing up as a member as well.
After two years of remodeling and three years in the house, we decided to move to Colombia. I know what you’re wondering, “If it was such a dream home then why did you move?” It was a little bit of ‘grass is always greener’ a little bit of wanting to get away from the rat race and focus full-time on growing my online businesses.
We still think about our dream home and the money we saved with coupons, discounts and promo codes from Lowe's and sites like Dealspotr. It wasn’t just an opportunity to save tens of thousands but a great experience. We’re actually talking about doing it all over again in a year or two so I’d love to hear your favorite promo code hack or way to save money on remodeling.
Read the Entire Home Improvement Series
- Home Improvement Loans: How to Get the Best Bang for Your Buck
- Upgrade Your Home Without Breaking the Bank
- The Everything Guide to Home Buying and the #1 Scam to Avoid
About the Author
Joseph Hogue is a financial expert and investment analyst. After serving in the Marine Corps, he started his career investing in real estate before becoming an investment analyst for some of the largest private investors. He's appeared on Bloomberg and on CNBC as an investment expert and has published ten books in personal finance. Now he helps investors reach their financial goals and invest in the stock market with some of the same advice he used when working for the rich.