Why pay someone else to do something you can do yourself for free? That’s a question most DIY-ers ask themselves before they get ready to renovate their homes.
After all, remodelling your home is expensive enough without adding contractors and tradespeople into the mix. Taking on those roles yourself could theoretically save you a lot of money. According to the American Housing Survey, a kitchen remodel done by the pros is approximately three times the price of an at-home job.
If you’re on a tight budget, shaving off a few thousand from your final bill can be an attractive thought. But DIY work isn’t a guaranteed way to keep your costs low. In fact, there are plenty of scenarios where DIY can lead your budget astray, causing more problems than it solves.
Before you roll up your sleeves and get to work, you’ll want to understand how DIY can go wrong. This way, you can make an informed decision about your home. Here are three times when the cost-savings of DIY are in question.
1. One Little Upgrade Can Turn into a Huge Renovation
Plan for the best, but expect the worst. These wise words are a hard-earned lesson for many experienced DIY-ers.
While you need a detailed plan of action to organize your renovation, there’s a good chance you’ll find something that throws these plans off course. That’s because you never know what you’ll be working with until you start ripping up boards. You might be able to guestimate by the age and condition of your home, but things may still surprise you.
Pest infestations, structural damage, or even grandfathered building materials like asbestos insulation can pose a challenge to your DIY work.
While any of those examples can add work and cost to your project, asbestos is especially dangerous. This old-fashioned insulation is now known as a significant health hazard that can cause lung irritation and cancer should you inhale it.
Due to these issues, you can’t toss out asbestos with the rest of your renovation waste. It needs to be disposed of in a special landfill that can handle hazardous waste.
Some homeowners choose to remove asbestos on their own, but you may require the pros to handle this material if you find it everywhere in your home. Asbestos removal can add nearly an extra $2,000 to your bill on average.
Surprise asbestos can be hard to budget for in advance. However, you can protect your budget by adding a cushion to your savings goal. Contractors recommend saving an extra 25% so that you have a little breathing room should you find huge structural issues you can’t ignore.
If an unexpected renovation costs more than your cushion, you can find an online line of credit. Going online makes it easy to apply for and manage, so you don’t need to take time out of your renovation to use your line of credit.
If you’re thinking about getting one, the line of credit experts at MoneyKey say these online loans act as a safety net in times of crisis, like when you need to remove asbestos for the safety of your family — not when you want to buy upscale materials or take on cosmetic upgrades. They’re an emergency option only.
2. Some Renovations Come with Complicated Paperwork
Picking up a sledgehammer and wailing away at your kitchen counters is part of the appeal of DIY work. Besides being a form of stress relief, it lets you choose when and how you’ll update your space without any interference from a builder.
Unfortunately, DIY work doesn’t give you carte blanche to start work on your house. In many places around the world, you need a building permit before you can start construction, renovation, or demolition. You may even need a permit if you’re planning minor changes to a historic home.
Without a contractor guiding your hand, you might not realize you need approval from the city before you pick up that sledgehammer.
Many DIY-ers get into hot water because they unknowingly skip over these permits, especially when it comes to internal upgrades. However, a large number of home renovation projects could require a permit.
What happens if you don’t get the correct permit or any permit at all? You could face significant fines from your municipality. In some places, that can run you up to $500 per day you work without a permit.
This kind of fine can exceed even the limit on your online line of credit. Worse yet, a city inspector could shut down your entire renovation.
3. Specialized Work Calls for Specialized Tools and Knowledge
DIY makes sense when all you need is a hammer and some nails to get the job done. But what about those projects that require specialized equipment and tools?
Let’s say you’re redoing the bathroom and need to retile the shower, backsplash, and floor. A regular saw won’t cut tiles properly — you’ll need to invest in a wet tile saw, tile nippers, and scoring wheels before you can get started.
While you might find a deal on used equipment, this purchase inflates your budget from the initial materials. But attempting a project without the specialized tools you need could jeopardize the final product or worse — you could hurt yourself.
The likelihood of hurting yourself increases when you take on jobs better left to the professionals, like electrical work. Without specialized knowledge and experience wiring your home, you could easily electrocute yourself.
Nothing throws a wrench in your plans like a trip to the ER. Not only can your injuries make it impossible to work, but you could also be slapped with a huge bill from the hospital. While you can tap into your online line of credit to help pay for these medical expenses, nothing but time will heal your wounds.
When done right, DIY can be a fun project that saves you a lot of money. But if you’re unlucky or unprepared, you can wind up spending more than you ever would by hiring the professionals.
Now you know how things can go wrong, use this info to weigh up the pros and cons of DIY work. While some DIY SNAFUs are complete accidents, others can be safely avoided with the right preparation.