As the snow starts to melt and most of us see what's underneath, we realize there's some serious work to be done around the house.
Spring is the time to begin working on home improvement projects. If you're thinking about stocking up on supplies for your most pressing project, consider the ways you can save when you do-it-yourself:
1. Big Box vs. Small Stores
For the frugal consumer, shopping smart is always a logical first step. When you're shopping at the big-box home improvement stores like Home Depot and Lowes, there are always deals going down.
The two heavyweight retailers are highly competitive and both stores offer price matching with an additional 10-percent discount on identical products advertised at a lower price at any competing store. Both stores also post weekly sales, discounts and rebates on their websites so you can be prepared before you hit the store. Not to mention, you can always find coupons for these home and garden giants.
On the other hand, locally owned home-supply stores, like Ace Hardware, often provide email sign-ups that allow you to receive special deals on the same items you would find at the big-box stores. While you may not be able to purchase sheet rock, the smaller places may carry everything from plumbing supplies to finishing notes for your home.
2. Tester Cans and Used Paint
Next to buying a nice area rug, painting is probably the easiest way to change the look of a room. Unfortunately, home improvement stores are aware of this and they like to make you pay for it. There are definitely ways to get around the high prices though.
If you only have a small space to paint, there's no need to invest in a whole gallon of paint that'll inevitably take up space in the garage or closet. Ask about small tester cans that can often be found for $5 or less in a variety of colors.
The word is starting to get out on used paint, too. When people order large amounts of custom paint, they often order too much. This paint gets returned to the stores, but the merchant can't put such cans back on the shelf with the rest of the paint. If you're in the right place at the right time, you might be able to get gallons of paint for around $5. Not all stores will have used paint, but it doesn't hurt to ask.
3. Buy Lumber in Bulk
Working with lumber can be intimidating. It requires precise measurements and cuts, or you'll end up wasting money and materials. Prices vary by lumber grade and wood type, so be aware of what materials are required to get the job done.
4. Generic vs. Name Brand
There's an incredible variety of nails and screws available, but how much of a difference is there really? Generic brand nails and screws are often up to par with the name brands, but cost significantly less. In some cases, the only difference between a generic and the brand name is the box!
The same can be said for pipes and plumbing fixtures. Unpackaged fixtures in a bulk bin can have the same quality as their packaged counterparts on the shelf, but cost much less. Longevity is also something to consider when working on a plumbing project. Copper pipes and PVC pipes typically give you the most bang for your buck, lasting up to 60 years.
5. Caulk Singles
Caulk certainly won't be the most expensive item on your home improvement list, but it's useful for patching up holes and sealing cracks. Often when people buy a tube of caulk for a small project, they end up making a mess of it and throwing half the tube away.
If you want to keep some caulk around for projects that spring up, try out some caulk singles from General Electric. Much like the fast food ketchup packet, they're enough for one project and cut back on waste and mess. Watch for coupons to home centers like the Home Depot that offer General Electric's caulk singles.
6. Government Rebates
Now that warm weather is finally on the way, you can replace your old windows and doors with more energy efficient ones. While it's a big project, it may be worth it when you save on heating costs next winter.
In an effort to reduce energy consumption, the federal government is continuing to offer tax credits when you install Energy Star certified windows, doors and skylights. The credits aren't as generous as last year, but you can still get 10 percent off for $200 worth of windows and skylights and a rebate of up to $500 for doors.
7. Buy Reconditioned or Rent Power Tools
It's hard to justify buying an expensive power tool, especially when you know you'll never use it again. If you live the DIY credo, Home Depot rents such power tools as power washers, paint sprayers, chainsaws and buff sander. By renting, you'll get the professional finish you want without having to cut corners on expensive equipment.
Many power tool manufacturers have online outlets where they sell reconditioned tools at a discount. These tools are certified by the manufacturer, so you have a guarantee they'll work. You can save even more when you use a Bosch Outlet coupon or a Bostitch Outlet free shipping code for discount power tools.
8. Used Hand Tools
The garage sale may still be king for finding good deals on hand tools. Many people don't enjoy inherited tools and are willing to part with them for next to nothing, compared to new tools. Wrench sets, hammers and screwdrivers made by quality toolmakers like Craftsman and Stanley can stand the test of time and are as good today as they were 30 years ago.
9. Working Together
No one escapes a little home maintenance from time to time. If you and a neighbors are working on similar projects, sharing the cost of renting a wood chipper or cement mixer can save both of you time and money.
While skilled friends and family don't necessarily enjoy manual labor, they can be coaxed into it with the promise of good food, drink or a labor exchange to be named later. Working with friends gets the job done faster and is usually much more fun.
Consumer savings expert Andrea Woroch has been featured on NBC's Today Show, FOX & Friends, MSNBC, ABC News NOW and many more. Follow @AndreaWoroch on Twitter to receive daily savings tips.