Every day it looks more and more like the financing is going to come through and I’m going to have a house in December. When my fiancee and I buy this house we have four items on the to-do list before we move in: get rid of popcorn ceilings, paint, buy appliances, and install new flooring.

Getting rid of popcorn ceilings takes a ladder, some water, and something to scrape with like a $10 taping knife. This will just take a lot of time but the tools are cheap.

Painting the walls takes a ladder, paint, brushes and rollers, and tape. I don’t need to cover the floors because I’m going to pull them up anyway. Also I’ll be getting a Turbo Roller for $40 which eliminates the need for a paint tray and should make painting faster and easier. Again, time intensive but relatively cheap.

The owner is taking the fridge and the washer and dryer so we’ll need to buy those. Luckily Black Friday is around the corner and Craigslist exists. We’re going to get a brand new fridge, but we are either going to get a huge Black Friday sale or find something around 50% off with minor cosmetic damage from the Sears Outlet (as a new homeowner, that place is AWESOME!). Tag and I are hoping to get all three appliances for under $1,500.

That leaves us with the most expensive item left: flooring.

It Takes Time to Find Deals on Flooring

If you want cheap carpet or laminate flooring you can get that stuff for under $1 per square foot. If you want something that looks nice you’re probably going to have to spend a little bit more. However, I’m on a very strict budget and I can’t spend more than $2 per square foot and I want hardwood or bamboo.

hardwood flooring

photo credit: Gavin Tapp

I started with Home Depot and Lowe’s, then moved onto flooring stores like Lumber Liquidators but didn’t find any quality materials at the price range I wanted. Part of me wanted to just give up and either decide to keep the existing floors (which would put me in Tag’s doghouse indefinitely) or increase my budget (which will put me in the poor house).

After over a week and even a few free samples we hadn’t found anything, but we kept looking and sure enough I found some bamboo floors that usually sell for $4.99 per square foot marked down to $1.99 per square foot. On top of that, there is a 20% off EVERYTHING deal going on between now and Friday. That means it will cost $1.60 a sq ft + shipping (which is also 20% off).

I ordered some samples and they should be here tomorrow. If the floor is as good as the specs suggest then I will have found incredible flooring for under $2 a sq ft even after paying for shipping. That’s freaking incredible!

I don’t hold out for cheaper prices on small things. Whether I spend $8 or $12 on a tape measure isn’t going to impact my finances significantly. Whether I spend $2.00 or $3.00 per sq ft on over 1,000 square feet of flooring is at least a $1,000 difference. $1,000 is worth the extra time to keep looking for exactly the right stuff.

As long as the sample looks good then I have myself some new floors. If it’s bad then I’m just gonna have to suck it up and keep looking. The deal is out there somewhere; I just have to have the patience to find it.

Readers: Have you ever done a big home improvement project? How did you save money on materials?