Should I Work on my Own Home by Doing DIY Projects or Hire a Professional Contractor?

LOCAL RECORDS OFFICE – You don’t need the construction skills of Bob Vila to start working on your own home, yet it’s no secret that you can save money if you do some of the work yourself, of course not all projects could be done by a rookie DIY’er. As a general rule, estimates from contractors in our area run 1/3 for materials and 2/3’s for labor. So theoretically, we save 66% by doing the project ourselves, right?

Doing it Yourself Projects Has It’s Benefits but it Also Has it’s Downside

To decide, consider:

  • Cost of materials: Can materials be purchased at contractor cost or will you pay a hefty up-charge? Is it possible to find materials at salvage or a Habitat-type store to increase your margin of profit?
  • Cost of time: How much longer will this take to DIY? And in real dollars, how much will this add to holding costs? Holding costs include but are not limited to mortgage payments, insurance (generally higher when property is empty and/or under construction), utility bills, and lost rent. If it takes 2 weeks working nights and weekends to complete a project your contractor can finish in 2 days, add 10 days of holding costs.

Great DIY Example

The decision to DIY should be a simple mathematical equation where you:

  • Price materials
  • Estimate the time needed to complete the project
  • Multiply the number of days/weeks by the daily/weekly rate for holding costs, then
  • Subtract that amount from the contractor bid

Of course it’s not that easy… how much fun would that be?

For starters, you may not be delaying completion of the project if other work is going on anyway. Contractor delays are a common problem and if yours has a history of putting off your projects for another day, you might be able to finish sooner than he can anyway. But besides that, there’s value hidden away in DIY projects that can only be mined by rolling up the sleeves and getting your nails encrusted with something icky.

Learning New Skill Will Help You on the Long Run

By learning a new skill, you increase both ability and confidence. You’re also learning to identify quality work, the amount and difficulty of labor, special tools needed for the job, and reasonable time estimates for completion. If you decide to hire someone next time, you’ll have a much better idea what’s involved in the project and if bids are reasonable. That type of knowledge is invaluable to the rehab professional, paying dividends with every new project.

Just Another Opinion

Consider taking on at least one new project with each rehab, even if it’s as simple as replacing a light switch or changing out a doorknob. With experience, you’ll learn which repairs save the most and which are best left to others. During your first few houses, try to be as hands-on as possible and consider it part of your rehab education.

You Don’t Have to be a Professional Handy-Man to do Great DIY Projects

If you have no handy-man skills whatsoever, you might try working alongside your contractor (if he’ll have you). He may tell you to pound sand (politely of course), but if you have a good working relationship, it’s worth a shot. Later, you may find that hiring reputable contractors for most (if not all) of the work will save enough in holding costs to justify the expense.

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5 Types of DIY Home Projects that Will Cost You Big Bucks

2016 is here, which in addition to thick sweaters and rain, is the season for DIY. All told, Americans will likely spend millions on home improvement this year – of which 17 percent will be on do-it-yourself projects. That means lots of homeowners up on ladders, watching how-to videos online and making multiple trips to Home Depot supply store to pick up supplies and materials they forgot to pick up the first (or second or third) visit.

Before you join them on the rung and in the aisles, make sure the project you are planning to DIY to save money won’t actually end up costing you in the long run.

  1. Projects That Are Too Advanced

It’s the 21st century and the proliferation of YouTube how-to videos has been a boon to the persistent home improvement do-it-yourselfer. In just a few mouse clicks you can be face-to-face with a knowledgeable expert who takes you step-by-step through a project, from caulking the tub, to installing a skylight. Unfortunately, there’s no way to tell how expert any given YouTube “expert” actually is. Worse, even if the expert is knowledgeable and skilled, every home repair and maintenance project is different. As soon as your job fails to follow the script, you’re on your own. A pro has the necessary experience, tools and supplies to roll with the punches. Unfortunately most DIY’ers probably don’t, that’s what YouTube-ers won’t tell you. This website has easy and affordable articles on DIY’s.

READ MORE: How to Remodel and Spend Less Without Cheap Quality Materials

So the big question is what is the costs? Poor bathtub caulking will soon cause leaks behind the tub or shower floor, where it’s hidden from view, and result in hefty repair bills for damaged walls and floor joists. And while the YouTuber makes that skylight installation look easy, it’s easy for us on the ground to lose sight of the fact that the job is up on the roof, where falling is easy, too.


<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/141483323″>Local Records Office: Do-It-Yourself Renovation Tips – Wooden Floors</a> from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/localrecordsoffices”>Local Records Office</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

  1. Risky DIY Projects

A professional roofer will have the tools and the experience to do the job competently and safely. Most DIYers will have neither, which makes doing the job well and safely unlikely. Some electrical work falls into this category, with the danger occurring both during the work and afterward when poor workmanship can lead to risk of fire.

Some other dangerous DIY jobs to think twice about, include major tree trimming, interior wall removal, pest abatement and gas pipe repair or removal.

No savings on home maintenance and repair are worth risking life and limb. If you’re unsure, or don’t understand the risk involved, hire a pro. It’ll be cheaper in the long run. Don’t be cheap.

  1. Unpleasant Projects That No One Wants to do

Unpleasant jobs are not fun! Everybody’s idea of fun is different. If you enjoy laying down hundreds of pavers for your new back patio, go for it. Learn all you can about the process and set to it. If you decide after a few courses that you do not enjoy it and dread the hours of tedium ahead, put down the stone and consider hiring a pro. Your time is valuable. Spend it on a DIY job you do enjoy, or focus your effort on developing your barbecue recipe. While persistence and determination are admirable, sticking with a job you hate too often leads to distraction and ultimately shoddy work you’ll pay for again later.

  1. Small Jobs That End Up Being Big Projects

This goes hand-in-hand with taking on jobs for which the DIYer lacks the necessary skills. How hard could a bathroom or kitchen renovation really be? How difficult is putting up a fence, installing a deck or replacing the main sewer line?

From the tools required to the supplies needed for the project, the costs for big jobs can mount, and for DIYers new to the work, estimating beforehand is not straightforward. Online project calculators can get you part of the way there, but every project is different and some DIYers lack the experience to adjust on the fly. That means more tools to buy, more supplies and more time finishing the project.

  1. Projects That Require Expensive Permits

Permit requirements vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction – and many DIYers may not consider permits before diving into their kitchen or bathroom renovation. According to the National Association of Realtors, failure to get the proper permits can make it harder to sell a home later, as banks will be reluctant to loan money for unpermitted improvements. Worse, un-permitted improvements could result in lawsuits post-sale.

Reliable contractors will take care of the permits and the paperwork. Whether you do the project yourself, or hire a pro, it’s a good idea to meet with your local building or planning department to discuss the improvement project beforehand. You’ll understand the permit requirements before starting, and you can apply for the permits yourself, saving you a little money on contractor fees.

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