Do you have projects around your home that you’d consider doing yourself? You might be able to cut the cost of a project by half or more and add value to your home in excess of what you invest.
While there are some jobs that may require a professional, like roofing, siding, and electrical work, other DIY projects may be perfect for the homeowner. If you’re concerned about your possible lack of skills, go online and review how-to tutorials or YouTube video instructions. Most major manufacturers offer tutorials for their products’ installation; big box home improvement stores schedule free clinics; DIY books are available at the library and in stores. Once you feel somewhat prepared to tackle a project, your time and effort can save you money. If you don’t feel that you have the time to invest, you might still save by purchasing materials and avoiding the contractor’s mark-up. Check ahead with your professional about what you can buy and what will be his responsibility.
Depending on your skills and determination, here are some projects that you might be able to handle, with return-on-investment information from “Remodeling” magazine’s annual “Cost vs. Value Report.”
A simple 12-foot-by 16-foot rectangular wood deck addition may be placed on concrete piers instead of poured concrete footings (Always check local codes.). Even simple stairs may be tricky; measure carefully. This project should probably take 3-4 days over two weekends; help from friends may be beneficial.
MINOR BATHROOM FACELIFT
Typically, a guest bathroom measures about 5 feet by 7 feet. If yours needs a facelift, let’s consider a new tub, toilet, ceramic tile floor and shower surround, an updated shower valve, new vanity, sink, and counter. Make it pretty with moisture-proof vinyl wallpaper. Unless you’re a plumber, add about $380 for a pro (figuring four hours at $95 per hour). The tile work will be the most challenging; prepare yourself with tutorials or a clinic and then get the right tools. Rent an electric tile saw for $50-75 per day or buy one for less than $100 if you know you’ll need it for more than one day (which is likely). Plan for six to eight days of work and remember that tile adhesive needs a day to set. Keep in mind that you may not need new fixtures if your tub, toilet, and sink are in good shape; this means big savings.
ENTRY DOOR REPLACEMENT
This is the project with the biggest return according to the Cost vs. Value Report and adds to curb appeal as well. Choose a pre-hung door that includes jambs. Try to preserve the old casing; if this doesn’t work, you will buy new. If your new at door replacement, this can take six to eight hours; you will probably need a friend or spouse to help with the project. Educate yourself on door parts (jambs, threshold, stops), and remember that door installation requires that you plumb, level, and square.
GARAGE DOOR REPLACEMENT
If your garage door is tired and boring, consider replacing it with a new steel door. Steel doors come in four panels; they are relatively lightweight but awkward to handle, so you’ll need a friend to get this done in a day. If your motorized opener still works, keep it.
VINYL WINDOW REPLACEMENT
For the replacement of four or more windows or any on the second story, call a professional. Ladders and heavy objects don’t mix well for DIY homeowners! Professionals will bring scaffolding, and work more quickly and safely. You might be able to handle a first-story window or two. Measure the rough opening carefully; one window may take three to four hours.