According to the 2018 Home Improvement Report by Nerdwallet, 73 percent of homeowners felt that they had the resources and the info to tackle DIY “all home repairs and improvements themselves.” The site’s report also noted that U.S. homeowners hammered out more than 40 million DIY projects for their homes from 2015 to 2017.
But is it always a smart idea to DIY? And how much do those projects actually cost in the long run? Time is money, after all! Grab those nails, that toolbox and your sweat equity, here’s everything you need to know when you Do It Yourself!
30 percent of Homeowners Can’t Cover Repair Costs
One of the most worrisome stats Nerdwallet uncovered was that a little more than 30 percent of homeowners haven’t saved money to pay for repairs. Savings are dwindling, many are living paycheck-to-paycheck and shelling out hundreds or thousands for a pro to make repairs is difficult for many on a budget.
This is where DIY can be a blessing. So how much can DIY save you? That 2018 report stated that for kitchen renovations/additions, DIY homeowners saved more than $20,000. That’s a huge amount of money, especially for a family on a budget. So why is DIY so much more affordable?
You’re The Handyman!
- When you DIY, the price of labor is removed. Because, well, YOU’RE the laborer.
- You also may pay less on materials, because you can shop around.
- DIY allows you to choose the cost of everything for your renovation. Choice is a powerful savings tool!
Need Help? There Are Endless Tutorials to School You on DIY!
Did you know that many homeowners (44 percent, to be exact!) were hit with their first home repair after just one year of buying their home? And home repairs come in all forms. Busted pipes, leaky faucets, HVAC issues, and on and on. Some projects can be major, others are minor. But every repair costs money.
So when that faucet is leaking, the tile needs fixing, or you’re just wondering what tools you need in case of an emergency, where do you turn for a little DIY guidance? While the type of project you tackle depends on your own comfort and hands-on experience, there are many handy tutorials online. And one of the best resources is YouTube. Here are a few of the best DIY tutorials online:
How to do a bathroom remodel on a budget (less than $500)
Plumbing 101 (this is all about DIY plumbing!)
If the project can be a DIY dream, then, chances are, there’s a YouTube video for that! All you have to do is search the site!
Easy as DIY: Simple Projects!
Some DIY projects can be a logistical nightmare for those who aren’t good with tools. However, there are many projects that most homeowners can easily DIY. Here are the top 10:
Go grab your brush and your color! Don’t forget primer! Painting isn’t hard, but it does take time and patience. You’ll need to cover carpet and the wood trim (you don’t want to mess those up!). Make sure to keep color even and consistent, because a streaky wall looks awful!
Yes, decorating is a project. And adding ambience to your house makes it feel like home. DIY some wreaths, spray paint some light fixtures. Make those rooms look pretty with silk flower arrangements. And hunt thrift stores for gilded mirrors and funky art.
While installing your own vinyl, wood or ceramic tile flooring might sound intimidating, it’s actually pretty easy. If you’re not sure how to begin, queue up some video tutorials. You may find these on YouTube or even on the sites of flooring manufacturers.
- Kitchen Countertops.
No, we won’t suggest cutting your own granite! But counter installation can be pretty easy if you just want cosmetic retouches. There are actually kits you can buy at home improvement stores that help you refinish your countertops for a stone-like appearance.
- Window coverings.
This is so easy! Yes, you can buy those shutters and blinds and install them yourself. Or just opt for easy coverings like new curtains and drapes. A new window covering can change the look of a whole room!
- Cabinet pulls.
Those decorative knobs and pulls can be swapped out for something prettier, edgier or more dramatic. There are so many pulls and knobs available that it allows you to really customize the look of your cabinets and drawers. You can opt for funky shapes like stars or stay basic with a simple brass option.
- Smart home integration.
Is your home smart? You can DIY that, too! If you own a smart home device like Alexa or Cortana, utilizes all its capabilities by installing plugs and lightbulbs that are compatible with the device. This allows you to turn appliances on and off by simply asking!
- New Doors!
“When one door closes….” You know the quote from The Sound of Music! But, really, you can DIY when it comes to door replacement (Nerdwallet lists this project among the most tackled). And you may be able to find inexpensive replacement doors at The Habitat for Humanity Restore (as long as it’s open to the public in your area!).
Nerdwallet lists this DIY project on its list of top tackled projects, too. But landscaping can include a lot of outdoor feats, from planting trees to creating an exquisite garden. Plant your own flowers and shrubs, but call in the pros for more fastidious plants and trees. You also may be able to build your own retaining wall!
- Create an office in your closet!
This idea is from This Old House and the project can be completed for about $100. Say goodbye to an unused closet and welcome the space for your work-from-home needs.
But, wait, if many homeowners can’t find the money for even a small project, how can there be money for DIY? While some families do have savings for fixer-upper projects, others are taken off guard when a small repair becomes necessary. How you finance your DIY ideas depends on your own financial situation, and not every option is a fit for every homeowner.
Nerdwallet notes many sources that homeowners use to fund projects, and one source of funding is a Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC).If you’re interested in a HELOC, make an appointment with your bank to discuss the approval process.
So what is a HELOC? This type of credit line uses your home’s equity for collateral. So when you dip into your home’s equity, you may not make as much if you decide to sell your home. Use only what you need from the HELOC, and plan to pay it back as soon as you are able.
Many homeowners whip out the credit card to fund repairs. Like every funding option, there are positives and negatives for using credit. Charges accrue interest, and this may bump your monthly payment if you don’t pay off those charges.
Using a Tax Refund
For families who receive a tax refund, this infusion of money may help pay for necessary home repairs. Save a little of that refund if you can, though!
Some homeowners dip into (and sometimes drain) their savings to pay for repairs, according to Nerdwallet’s report. Of course, if you have savings, then using this resource may help avoid taking on debt.
Cut the Budget
If you absolutely need to find resources to pay for those projects but you lack savings and don’t want to tackle more debt, then it’s time to start cutting the budget. Look at your monthly spending habits to see where you can save money to fund repairs. Are you eating out a lot? Adding lots of items to your wardrobe? Or perhaps you live for streaming services. Cut what you can then use that money for your DIY projects.
Borrow from Family
Some homeowners may be able to borrow money from parents or another relative to pay for necessary repairs. Or the money might just be a gift. You need to be sure, though, that both parties are certain about repayment promises. Otherwise that loan could sour the relationship.
Whether you are a new homeowner or have been paying off that house for a decade, eventually you will need to deal with home repairs. While many can be a DIY dream, some can turn into a nightmare for those who lack the skills needed to do the job right. If you know your way with tools, then even the craziest projects might be right up your alley. But if swinging that hammer leaves you with a pounding headache, it’s time to call the pros. Opting for DIY, though, can save your budget from being busted. Of course, you’ll need to find a way to fund even the most affordable project. Whether you dip into savings, charge it, borrow from family, take out a HELOC or chisel your budget to make way for DIY, just be sure you don’t take on more than you can handle. Financially and physically. Research the project and the cost and do your homework before you commit to the role of handyman!