If you experienced a mild coronary when you saw your contractor’s initial new home construction estimate, then you might be considering doing some of the work yourself. After all, DIY seems like a great way to save money on home construction. Besides, there’s nothing that you, Bob Vila and
In reality, although some DIY projects can save you money on the front end, they might end up costing you over the long term. You can buy top quality house plans and stalk your hardware store clerk as much as you’d like, but you need strong skills, plenty of experience and good stress tolerance to handle DIY. Before you tell your contractor that you want to do some of the work on your own, take a moment and evaluate your DIY preparedness level.
Be Honest About Your DIY Skills
You may not think that DIY work would challenge you. After all, anyone can slap some paint onto a wall, can’t they? The truth is that many DIY projects require a good deal of experience and skill. For all of those weekend warriors that you see on HGTV, there are piles of weekend wounded that have to give up and go crawling back to their contractors.
If you have prior successful experience with painting, laying tile or hanging doors, then go ahead and tackle those types of projects. However, leave anything that involves the bones of your house, such as framing, electrical work, plumbing, HVAC and foundation work to the professionals. Most likely, you don’t have sufficient knowledge of local building codes to tackle more sophisticated projects. If it’s too big to fail, then let your contractor handle it.
Map Out the Costs
Before assuming that DIY work means spending less money, make out a budget for each project that you want to tackle. Then, add 20 to 30 percent to that budget so that you have a cushion for forgotten items or inevitable mistakes. Compare your budget to what your contractor is charging, and decide whether the amount that you’ll save is worth the effort of doing the work yourself.
Also, consider the future costs if you make a mistake. If you try to lay a vinyl tile floor and the design doesn’t work out, then the biggest problem you face is ripping it up and starting over or laying a new floor over it later.
However, if you mess up your plumbing and have to rip into the walls to fix it, then your DIY attempt to save money could end up costing you a great deal. Make sure any DIY work that you do will hold up when you decide to sell your house later. If it’s not good enough for the new homeowner, then it’s not good enough for your family.
Evaluate How Much Stress You Can Handle
Even the smoothest home construction project takes a toll on new homeowners. Unexpected twists and unanticipated costs can strain your budget and your family relationships. When a DIY project makes you grumpy and worried, it can place a lot of strain on the people who live with you. Also, if your DIY project takes a long time to finish, then your family may struggle with the inconvenience and delay. Your spouse, for example, may not appreciate living in an unfinished house, even if the “work in progress” look doesn’t bother you at all.
Always consider not only your own stress levels but also your partner’s or children’s stress levels. Decide which situation will stress you and your family out more: dealing with higher construction costs or attempting projects on your own. Additionally, remember that if you don’t like DIY work, you can’t ask the contractor to fix it. When you do the project yourself, the buck stops with you.
The Bottom Line
When a talented and experienced DIYer takes on some of the construction workload to save money, families often save a lot on construction costs. Just make sure that you’re ready for the challenges, and ensure that you’re saving enough money to justify spending time on DIY. Finally, make sure that both you and your family are ready for DIY’s unique challenges.