We’ve all been there – looking for a small change to your home that will costs you more than you ever expected. There’s real value to professional work – and that’s the best way to go for some projects. But the truth is that many projects are easy to handle on your own. In this guide, we’ll look at why DIY works so well and what you can get out of it.
Why DIY When Time Is Money?
Financially, the most important consideration of DIY projects is the value of your time. If it takes less time to earn money it will take to hire someone, DIY doesn’t make sense. For most of us, however, DIY is cheaper than hiring someone to help.
Also, DIY projects offer ample opportunity to customize things exactly how you want them. This is ideal when you want an artistic flair instead of just a job well done.
The Two Types Of DIY Projects
In general, DIY is separated into two categories: home repair and home improvement. These are exactly what they sound like.
Home Repair Projects
Home repair projects focus on general upkeep and maintenance, from small tasks like weeding to bigger jobs like painting the exterior walls. Most of these are necessary to maintain the value of your house. And keeping up with them will make your next move far easier.
Home Improvement Projects
Where the real value of DIY lies. These projects can significantly add to the value of your home, even when they don’t cost that much to do. Let me give you an example.
After my family’s most recent move, we found ourselves in a house with a significant crawlspace. The house was on a hill, so the ‘low’ end offered enough space for us. To get up, move around, and store things. Unfortunately, the only entry to the crawlspace was through the closet. Meaning we had to crouch uncomfortably to get to the rest of the crawlspace.
Our solution was to install a door to the crawlspace on the back of the house. After a little bit of preparation, we had easy access to a vast storage area. Just like that, our DIY work gave us the help we needed. It saved us from spending hundreds or thousands of dollars on self-storage over time.
The Expertise Issue: Why DIY Is Harder Than It Seems
Despite the value of DIY projects, there’s one thing holding it back: the need for expertise. Bigger projects, like installing a door to your crawlspace. Require a level of planning and experience that some people don’t have. Imagine if things had gone wrong and we couldn’t fit that door. Into the hole, we cut in the side of our house. Worse, what if we’d compromised the structural integrity?
These aren’t minor considerations. If you don’t know what you’re doing, a DIY project could waste your time. This is why I never recommend that people start a project beyond their abilities.
Fortunately, most DIY projects aren’t urgent, and there’s a simple solution to the lack of expertise: practice and friends. Most of us know someone who’s good with tools, and even if you don’t, you can always learn to do it yourself. Building a small-scale model of your project is a great way to get a better sense of what it involves.
Now that you know more about what it takes to successfully DIY, let’s take a look at some projects that can add real value to your home. Most of these are especially helpful if you want to sell your home in the near future.
#1: General Cleaning
When was the last time you really cleaned your house? I don’t mean wiping down mirrors and cleaning the cabinets, I mean serious ceiling-to-floor maintenance. Chances are it’s been longer than you want to admit. Fortunately, this is one of the easiest DIY projects to do. Starting from the top of your house (because dust and dirt fall), take the time to clean and polish everything.
By the time you’re done, your home will look much better than before. You can also take this opportunity to remove clutter and get rid of things that offer no value or joy to you.
Why DIY, you ask? Most cleaning products are affordable, and you should be able to get this done for less than $$$ if you already own the big tools. For comparison, a maid cleaning service would probably charge more than $500 for the same work.
#2: Improve Lighting
As far as home interiors go, more natural lighting tends to be better – though we understand if you want to keep rooms with televisions dim to reduce glare. In general, though, curtains and coverings (aside from blinds) are going out of style, so go ahead and take them down in favor of a cleaner, simpler look.
You can also replace old fixtures with newer, energy-saving options. LED bulbs are great for most parts of the house, and can cost as little as a dollar each if you know where to look.
In some cases, you may need to add entirely new lighting fixtures. This is a project you don’t want to do yourself – if things need to be rewired, call an electrician. The risk isn’t worth the savings.
#3: Paint The Walls
Fresh coats of paint make any home look newer – and this is an easy project even if you’ve never painted a room before! Any paint seller (such as staff at home improvement or paint specialty stores) can give you plenty of tips and guidance for making things easy. In short, however, you’ll need something to cover the furniture and floors, as well as some painter’s tape for the edges.
From there, it really is about as simple as using a roller and a brush to get the paint on everything you want to color. If you have large walls, be sure to get an extension pole that can fit on the roller – this is often easier than moving a ladder around.
The right color depends on your home and your furniture, but options like Sherwin-Williams’ color tools can help you quickly find aesthetically-pleasing combinations. Don’t hesitate to take advantage of these during your planning phase.
#4: Replace Appliances
This is nudging the line of what can be considered a DIY project, but installing new appliances yourself can save a lot of money – and most of them aren’t very hard to install. If you’d like to save money, look for used appliances that are still in good condition. Many larger items – like ovens – are built to last for a long time, so there’s no need to get a brand-new one unless all the used ones are damaged.
The biggest issue here is transportation. If you don’t have a truck of your own, ask a friend or neighbor for their help and drop off your old appliances at a recycling center. Some recyclers will pay by cash or check for old appliances, making them ideal for keeping your costs low.
#5: Hire A Pro For A Bit
Inviting a realtor to your home is a great way to get ideas for DIY projects. You may be asking yourself why diy when you have thise person here. Well, as home selling specialists, they can give you advice on what will make your home look better, both to you and other people. They can also give information on how much each project is likely to add to the value of your home, making them your best source of information if you’re trying to profit from your DIY work.
(That said, remember to keep all your receipts. Raising the price of your home too much could lead to getting hit with Capital Gains taxes, and while that’s tolerable if you plan for it, you don’t want them to come as a surprise.)
#6: Improve Your Energy Usage
Reducing wasted energy can save you a lot of money over time – and many of the fixes are simple. Even better, utility companies are often willing to provide free energy audits. Be sure to take advantage of this if you can, since an efficient home is distinctly more valuable.
#7: Low-Maintenance Landscaping
Unless you enjoy spending a lot of time in your yard, it’s best to stick with low-maintenance landscaping. Why DIY? Well, landscaping is expensive to hire people for, and some mulch, a few shrubs, and plenty of gravel may be all you need to create an attractive, low-maintenance outdoor area.
If you’re on a hill, consider adding retaining walls to create several levels for your plants to grow on. Between the added exterior appeal and the lower costs of maintenance, this DIY project is always a winner.