The Value (and Hassle) of DIY Home Improvement
Sometimes owning a house is a real hassle. Actually, let me clarify that and say, sometimes owning a house while holding a full-time job can be a real hassle. If you’re a homeowner you know that there’s an endless stream of maintenance issues always coming at you that will either cost you time or money. If you’re frugal and a little bit handy, you may also have the urge to DIY as many of those maintenance issues as you can, adding to the complexity and often vastly increasing the amount of time required. And if you’re anything like me, you continually add home “improvement” projects to the list, in addition to the regular upkeep.
Because I currently work full time, DIY projects take a bit more planning, and I have to pick and choose when and how to fit a project in. Recently due to time constraints I’ve been focusing more on the improvements, and less on the upkeep. One of the many benefits I look forward to in early retirement is the freedom to flexibly take on more projects around the house. In the next year or two, I have quite a few catch-up maintenance items on my list:
- replace old exterior trim pieces
- re-paint the exterior trim
- replace the gutter on the back porch
- fix the chimney cap on the fireplace
- repair (or replace?) a sagging fence
- re-roof the house
Of course, there’s always the chance that a few unplanned items will get thrown in there as well (for example, my water heater is quite old, and it could die on me any time now).
So the eternal question that I struggle with is, should I DIY everything? Traditionally I’ve tried to tackle every project myself. Only occasionally will I bring in a professional (for example: giant cottonwood tree removal), but it usually requires a lot of learning, planning, and taking time off of work to do things myself. Despite the extra hassle, I do believe there’s value in DIYing your own home maintenance and improvements.
Working With My Hands
Left to my natural tendencies, I’m just a computer nerd, and most of my working and free time is spent sitting in front of a screen. I really enjoy tackling my own house projects because it flips my routine on it’s head, and it gets me working with my hands. I believe there is real value in putting hard physical work toward a project, and flexing outside my normal comfort zone.
I also enjoy learning about things I’m unfamiliar with, and every DIY project is a great opportunity to become well versed in a number of new skills. Before buying my house I would have laughed at the idea that I would soon know how to install flooring, tile a shower, patch drywall, sweat copper pipes, or install a heat pump system. But now, I am much more knowledgeable about a wide variety of practical home maintenance issues, and it serves me well.
Doing it Yourself is Just as Good as a Side Hustle
I spend a lot of my creative thinking time trying to brainstorm new side hustles and fun ways to make extra money, or save myself money. Taking on a DIY project where you’re saving the cost of labor is a great one-time side hustle in itself. At a minimum, labor seems to double to cost of any house project, so if I can save a few thousand dollars every time I take on a project myself, I know I am truly hustling.
Pride & the Brag Factor
I take a lot of pride in any of the projects I do myself, and I don’t turn down an opportunity to proudly brag about my work and the money saved. It feels good to know that I can learn all that’s needed to accomplish a complicated job, and get it done while avoiding spending money. I get a true sense of accomplishment when I complete a project. I only hope I come across as an inspirational example, rather than a big-headed braggart!
While I am still working a full time job, I know I may have to compromise and pay someone else to tackle some of my projects, but I look forward to the day that “amateur contractor” can permanently and easily be one of the roles in my life.
Do you DIY everything, or hire outside help? Am I going too far if I try and DIY the re-roofing of my house this fall? Let me know what you think about DIY home improvement!