As a first time home owner, you’re likely are going to want to make some changes. The fact is, many housing renovations are so expensive that it can be tempting to save money by trying to do it yourself. The big question is, should I DIY my renovations, or hire a professional?
Obviously this isn’t a simple answer.
Your abilities, temperament, timelines, and budget all come into play (if you need help with this you can get our free home renovation budget template) . But let’s see if we can help you clear the air on whether a DIY renovation is right for you.
Here are a couple questions to ask yourself to find the answer.
Am I Actually Capable of Doing the Work and Doing It Properly?
Certain work can be done by almost anyone. Painting is always the first thing that comes to mind. As a contractor, I can definitely tell the difference between a DIY paint job and a professional one.
But, I still encourage people to do their own painting as it really doesn’t hurt anyone at the end of the day if the painting isn’t perfect. Adding that coat of paint will probably make a big impact on the home’s appearance. So, if you like getting your hands dirty, it’s pretty easy to jump in.
There are however, areas of the home where we need to be honest with ourselves about our capabilities.
Doing a DIY plumbing job for example could cause a slow water leak that might eventually turn to rot and mold. This could have a huge negative impact on your family or someone else’s family down the road. Very few people (who aren’t pros) are qualified to do renovation work like plumbing, electrical, and structural renovations, but it happens all the time.
Unfortunately, it’s usually the next owner that pays the price.Before purchasing a home, be honest with yourself about what you should or shouldn’t be doing. and budget accordingly for any trades people that you may have to hire.
It It More Cost Effective For Me to Go To Work and Pay a Professional?
This is a calculation that very few people consider. Many people have the ability to work some overtime at their job. If not, it’s possible to get a part time job to supplement the salary from your full-time job. Hour for hour, you could make more money at your day job than you’ll save doing your own renovations.
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Consider this: approximately half of the renovation costs are (most often) materials, so you need to pay for that whether you do it or someone else does it for you. So there’s only one half left on the table.
Let’s Run Some Quick Numbers on a Renovation
On a $10,000 reno, you only have the potential to save $5,000.
Let’s assume the tradesperson makes $25 per hour and you make the same. In many areas, trades people will charge much more than this, but generally speaking if trades people’s wages are higher, so are everyone else’s. $5,000 worth of work is 200 hours at $25 per hour.
Now if you try to do the work of the trades people, it would be a miracle if you could do it in double the amount of time that it takes them. And to be brutally honest with you, by the time you organize getting all the materials to the house, figure out what you need, spend hours on Google figuring out how to do it, you’re probably going to be into this for five times longer than a good professional would be. Meaning you would spend close to 1000 hours on the job.
Now, if you just spent that time going to work, the extra money you could make would pretty much cancel out the trades people hour for hour. Even if it ends up being 2 to 1, you’re still likely to come out ahead. PLUS, you have the peace of mind knowing everything was done properly, and you’ll also end up with a better finished product.
Thinking of doing your own renovation? Here are the must have tools for new homeowners.
Even Professionals Hire Other Professionals
I’m a contractor who’s around this stuff everyday, and I’m much faster at DIY projects than the average person. Yet, when I custom built my own home, I still hired experienced professionals to do the vast majority of the work. There’s just no way around the fact that I’m much better at my own job than I am at theirs. And there’s a high possibility that you can say the same.
Bottom line: Your time is valuable! Don’t underestimate that!
Share this so others think through a DIY reno. It could save them thousands!