DIY home renovations can be quite satisfying. At least that’s the impression you get when you spend time watching HGTV or YouTube for DIY project ideas. You’ll probably find that DIY pros make projects look all too fun and easy. According to the reno stars, all you need is a few supplies, a weekend, some friends, and lots of pizza. While some projects can be so fun and simple, there’s a lot more to a successful DIY project, especially before you get started.
If you’re questioning the pros and cons of DIY when deciding whether to do it yourself or hire a professional, consider this. Sweating ability can pay off in a few ways. You can save a lot on labor costs. According to the most recent findings from the Census Bureau, the median spend for a DIYer is less than a quarter of what you would pay a professional ($600 vs. $2,600). Plus, you may have better control over the design and avoid the hassle of strangers in your home.
If you’re sold and ready to try a home improvement project, read on. Before embarking on your next weekend project, it is recommended that you create a roadmap for best success. Here are eight ideas to consider before doing a DIY project.
1. Timetable and scope of the project
Before you put any effort into embarking on a DIY project, make sure you have the time to tackle the scope of the work. Is the project a project that needs to be completed in a few days? Or could it be an ongoing project stretching out over a few months? If you’re new to DIY projects, start with the small wins that build confidence and experience. Painting an accent wall or guest room is much less daunting and certainly more achievable than painting the entire exterior of your home.
Be realistic about how much time you need. DIY projects generally take longer than expected, especially when compared to a pro’s timeline. There is a learning curve to familiarize yourself with the tasks and work quickly – make sure you are realistic about what it takes and that you are committed enough to complete the project. Otherwise, you could end up with unfinished works in progress that could disrupt the function of your home.
Some simpler projects to start with are:
- Replacing hardware such as wall plates, drawer pulls and doorknobs
- Replacing lighting fixtures with LED versions
- Add smart home features such as a wireless security system or voice-activated lighting and climate control
2. Cost of the DIY project
Do-it-yourself projects theoretically have a lower cost because you don’t pay for labor, which often takes up most of the tab of a construction or remodel; your main expense is only the materials. However, it is best to do your research beforehand to confirm that this is indeed the case, especially with the rising cost of supplies and raw materials such as wood these days. When calculating the cost of DIY projects, don’t forget to consider:
- Removal costs (for large amounts of debris)
- Need tools or equipment
- Permits required
- Extra labour, such as paying for extra help
Once you’ve calculated the total estimated cost of the project, consider adding an additional 10 to 20 percent for overages. Compare the cost of doing it yourself to hiring a professional. Are the savings worth your time and effort?
If the cost is close to hiring a professional, consider ways to save money on the project, such as:
Looking for used or gently used materials: You may be able to find cheaper supplies and materials from resources such as Habitat for Humanity or Facebook/Craigslist.
Balancing High and Low: Robert J. Fischer, a real estate agent and owner of The Robert J Fischer Team, suggests using “high materials only for the part that appears at first glance and adds the most value.” to your house.” Splurge on the centerpiece of a project and use less expensive items as supporting pieces.
Shop: Compare prices for similar materials at your local hardware stores and online sites to find the lowest price.
3. Craftsmanship Required
Once you have an idea of the scope and cost of the project, consider how advanced or difficult it would be to complete. For example, can you realistically re-tile a backsplash using the patterned dimensional tile you like best? It may require careful design tuning and a lot of cuts to get it right.
It may be easier to choose a solid color subway tile. Or, stop tiling altogether and update the backsplash with a peel-and-stick version, unless you have previous tiling experience.
4. Tools and Equipment Required
When researching a DIY project, consider what type of tools you will need. Purchasing specialized equipment can dent your budget. Can you borrow the necessary items? Or maybe you can rent them from your hardware store. Be sure to include the cost of equipment in the project cost.
In most parts of the country, homeowners do not need a special permit to work on their own home. However, you may still need a city or county permit for the type of work you want to do. A good rule of thumb is that any work that changes your home’s footprint, such as removing a wall or adding a patio or fence, may require a permit. Electrical or plumbing work may also require permits — and a licensed professional to complete the work.
If in doubt, check with your local building code office for requirements. And if your home is affiliated with a Home Owners Association (VvE), you may need additional permission for certain types of renovations.
6. Health and Safety
When calculating the pros and cons of DIY, think about how the project could affect your health. Some projects require heavy lifting, climbing, bending or bending. Other projects, such as refinishing wood floors, removing popcorn ceilings, or sanding cabinets can pose a safety hazard because of the chemicals needed. In addition, if you are working on an older home, you may be moving lead-based paint or asbestos.
Before you begin, consider the safety-related hazards of what you are about to undertake. Test for asbestos or lead before sanding or scraping. Make sure you take steps to protect your family, yourself and your pets.
7. Cost-Benefit Analysis
Before investing time and money in a house project, look at it like a businessman. How will the project improve the resale value of the home? Is it worth the investment? Are you confident that the completed project is an asset that other buyers would appreciate? Or is it too amateurish?
According to Brian Burke, owner and managing agent of Kenna Real Estate, “No matter how major home improvement projects you plan to implement, the average return will not exceed 63.7 percent if the home sells within a year. So investing a huge amount of money into remodeling a home won’t always work, rather, consider some relatively simple DIY projects that can increase your home value.
8. When in doubt, seek help
Even if you’ve decided to take on a project yourself, it doesn’t hurt to take advice from the pros. James Chapman, director of BELLAbathrooms, recommends that you seek advice from a professional. A contractor may be able to point out pitfalls and factors that you may not be aware of. “The expert can give you a competent opinion of your desired style or outcome and give you more confidence to proceed with your home improvement project with fewer hazards and risks,” he says.
What it boils down to when considering a DIY project
A DIY project can make you proud that you did it yourself and saved money. For the best chances of success, follow the steps outlined above before getting started to make sure the time and cost you invest is worth it.