February 6, 2012

Do-It-Yourself Home Improvement - Money in the Bank

If I added up all of the money I’ve spent on home improvement projects just for the house I currently live in, I probably could have built a brand new house for the sum!  Not really, but that is how it seems.  If I had paid somebody else to do all the work though, that statement probably would hold true.  I bought my current home in May of 2002, and since have improved nearly every square inch of the home, inside and out.  I’ve done almost all of the projects myself, with some help from family and friends.  I’ve learned over the years that owning a home is nothing more than a never-ending home improvement project.  I have to give credit and special thanks to my wife for cracking the whip.... er, inspiring me to keep up with these endless tasks.

Do-It-Yourself of Pay Someone Else?
The biggest cost savings item for a home improvement project is the one you have the most control over, the cost of labor.  It isn’t cheap to hire a contractor or a home improvement company to do the work.  They need to make profits and earn a living.  If you have the time, the tools and a little bit of know-how, you can save a great deal of money by doing it yourself.

Thinking outside the box though, it may not make sense to take on a complicated project.  You could actually save money by hiring a professional.  Think of it this way; if you take all of the time you might spend on a certain project and instead use that time to earn some extra income, you could come out ahead.  Maybe you have an opportunity to work some overtime at your job.  Perhaps your time could be better spent writing blog posts that have potential for income.  If the extra money you earn adds up to more than the labor cost, not only will you come out ahead financially, but the workmanship will probably be better quality.

Many of us do have extra time though.  Not everybody has easy opportunities to earn a sizeable extra income.  And then there are even some who actually enjoy doing home improvement projects.  I am one of these people, depending on the project and whether it was my wife’s idea or mine.  There is a certain pride that shines through in the display of a completed project that has transformed a portion of my home to the way I want it.  That same pride is unmatched if somebody else did all the work.

Tools, Knowledge and Money
Having the right tools are essential for a do-it-yourselfer.  In fact, taking on a home improvement project is usually a perfect excuse to go out and buy new tools!  You might be thinking, how is this supposed to save me money if I have to buy tools and supplies and do all the work myself?  As it turns out, buying good tools is actually a money saver!  Renting tools is also a great money saver.  Renting should be considered for things like high-priced power tools that you won’t likely need to use again in the near future.

Learning how to do home improvement projects is easier than ever.  The internet is a wonderful resource which gives you access to several sites that are dedicated to do-it-yourself home projects.  I’ve learned several home improvement skills over the years by doing simple internet searches.  YouTube is one of my favorite resources.  For example, I learned how a thermo-coupler on a hot water heater works and how to replace it via a YouTube video.

Books and magazines are also good resources.  For example, I purchased a complete how-to book from Home Depot for replacing flooring.  It covers every kind of flooring and gives very specific step-by-step instructions with photos.  This book was essential to me as I learned how to install laminate hardwood flooring and also ceramic tile.  Magazines may not have specific instructions, but they are valuable to keep you up to date with recent trends.

While internet research and reading are very good sources, the best way to gain home improvement knowledge is to get help from somebody who has done it before.  Just ask family or friends.  They may not be willing to come over and contribute sweat labor, but they will always be good for advice.  People love to talk about what they know and what they have experienced.  You can usually entice them to actually come and help by simply offering free food and drinks.

Once you get going, you will find that most home improvement projects are actually enjoyable.  You can learn to do just about everything on your own.  You may even be quite handy.  You could even consider turning your handyman abilities into extra income.  Now we’re really talking about turning do-it-yourself into money in the bank!

Readers:  Do you do-it-yourself, or do you prefer to pay somebody else?  What home improvement projects have you taken on recently?

Photo: me finishing up some trim work on a recent kitchen remodel


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