The reality of do-it-yourself home renovation jobs

Do it yourself

Do it yourself or hire a pro?

Home Depot used to have a TV advertisement that said, “You can do it. We can help” — a wonderful couple ideas succinctly stated but often not true. The last time I was in a store a hard time even finding an associate to help me find a funnel (in seasonal) let alone help me plan a home reno project. 

And the ‘you can do it’ part, hey, maybe you can and maybe you can’t.  

So now that it is wintertime and you finally have time to attack those home renovation jobs that you’ve been putting off, let’s cool your jets a little bit and have a good hard look at reality. 

Unreal TV

Reality TV home fix-it shows are somewhat entertaining but mostly useless as a guide to doing it yourself. TV shows are wonderful for getting ideas and building up confidence but weekend home improvement warriors should not be trusted to knock out walls and undertake any of the more difficult projects that are often portrayed. 

Also, TV shows are only an hour long. Your trip to Lowes or Home Depot and back alone will take longer! When you think about how much time it will take you do complete a job, I would say you should triple your time budget — something that you think will take you an afternoon will probably take you the whole weekend!

Be a tool

It’s hard to do a good job without the right tools. Tools are expensive and you need to know how to use them. Most homeowners do not have the tools that professionals would use to get the job done. So, you are already at a major disadvantage.

Your money, your time

Home reno and fix-it projects are not cheap. Sure you can do them cheaper than hiring a contractor, but they are still going to cost you money and your time — and maybe, if you are like me (self employed) your time maybe better spent making money than spending time. The rule of thumb that I use is that the contractor will cost as much as the materials. Essentially you are doubling the cost when hiring a pro, but then at least you have someone to blame when things don’t go well. 

You get what you pay for

Regarding materials, I’ve made the mistake of buying cheap laminate flooring which turned out to be very difficult to install. I did the same thing with a cheap toilet which came with nuts and bolts that would not fit together. The professionals know which brands to trust, which materials to work with. Amateurs, like us have to take our chances.

Do it or don’t do it 

So, I don’t mean to be a Negative Nelly and kibosh your do-it-yourself dreams. There is a real feeling of satisfaction found in building a gate, painting a room or installing a new bathroom vanity. Go for it, just know that there will be some learning ahead.

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