What to DIY on a Home Project List
You just bought a home. Great! Now the work begins. Most people want to make a home their own after purchase. Updates could run the gambit from painting a couple of rooms to a full remodel, and each project comes with a price tag. And then there is regular maintenance your home needs. You can hire contractors, but there are a quite a few areas that can be taken on yourself, at a considerable savings.
“If you want to DIY changing out the vanity in your bathroom, okay, but that may be above the average person’s skill set and time,” says Angie Hicks, co-founder of Angie’s List, the home services site. “But do you know that you need to change your furnace filter once a month?” Regularly taking care of maintenance issues can save you from costly repairs down the road.
Start with a project list
When you first purchase a home, you will look at it with a more critical eye. Start by noting every project you would like to get done, then prioritize the list.
Decide which projects you can DIY and which one require a contractor. Generally, plumbing and electrical are two areas that homeowners should not take on unless specifically trained in those areas. Also, be realistic about your own abilities. It may be a simple task to clean a gutter, but if you aren’t in the best shape, don’t have an appropriate ladder or the ground is uneven, it could be a risky task.
When it comes to maintenance, here instructions to DIY the top 6 things people call a handyman for.
Repair or replace?
One of the most difficult things about homeownership is unexpected expenses. It is a good practice to investigate the age of appliances and operating systems in your house. According to Hicks, appliances over eight years old should be replaced when they start to malfunction instead of paying someone to fix them.
Even if the furnace and hot water heater are working fine now, if you know they are more than 15 years old, you may want to prioritize putting money aside for their replacement above building a new deck.
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One homeowner told us a story of a deck remodel that ruined their summer. The product they used to remove the old finish didn’t work. They sanded the entire deck by hand. The new finish peeled almost immediately and they had to start all over with a different product. The time involved could have been spent out on the lake with the kids or going on a trip.
Improvements that bring a return
Few projects will return 100% on your investment when you go to sell, but there is one newer wise improvement area- smart technology. Updating your home with devices, such as programmable thermostats or video doorbells, is fairly easy and inexpensive. Not only will this be a selling feature down the road, you will gain savings in heating and cooling costs and allieviate costly security bills.
Handy homeowners can tackle many cosmetic kitchen and bath remodels. For example, you can pick out and place a new vanity, and have a plumber do the hook up. Here are a few other bathroom and kitchen tasks to consider DIY:
- Installing new flooring
- Changing a light fixture (make sure all power is off at the breaker)
- Install a mirror
- Tile a tub surround, floor or kitchen countertop
Never done a project, such as tiling? There are thousands of how-to videos online. Watch a few first and see if it is something you think you can handle before purchasing the materials.
In a basement, paint, flooring, crown molding and wall mounting a large screen TV are all within the DIY category. Just be careful not to over-renovate for your area. Keep colors neutral and bring in your own style through things that are easily changeable, such as furniture and accessories. Updates will be easier and you will have a good canvas to stage your home for resale later on.
Most big box home improvement stores have a remodeling desk that can help you in selecting materials and tools.
Everything is negotiable
If you are going to pay for a service, ask for bids and local references. Not only does the estimate detail in writing what you will get, it gives you an opportunity to negotiate. Don’t reveal your budget ahead of time. If you have set aside $10K for a bathroom remodel, state your budget at $8k to give yourself some wiggle room for contingencies. A deposit to start work is okay, but withhold a substantial portion (a third to a half) until the work is completed.