Most people undertake DIY projects to save money. And home remodels, renovations and repairs yourself can, indeed, save thousands of dollars. You can install a new roof on your home for $2,500 to $5,000 versus the $5,000 to $10,000 average to hire a professional, according to HomeAdvisor. Or replace your home’s insulation for around $962 on average, compared to $2,937 if you contract the work out, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s latest American Housing Survey (AHS).
But not all DIY projects are created equal when it comes to being cost-effective. Theoretically, you could tile your floors yourself for one-third of what the pros cost, for example. But given the additional need for expensive equipment, a skilled touch, and lots of time to do the job right, the savings often add up to less than you anticipate.
Here is a guide to identifying the best money-saving DIY projects, along with some examples.
What types of DIY projects save you the most money?
In identifying which projects offer the most economy, look to the labor costs — and specifically, where labor costs make up the bulk of the overall expense. Painting a house is one example: The painters’ services run between 70% to 85% of your total cost. In contrast, when you’re installing granite kitchen countertops, the biggest expenditure is for the stony stuff itself; the labor adds only $5 to $10 per square foot for the job.
Bathroom/kitchen renovations or remodels often will save you the most money of all home improvement projects because of the higher (and often specialized) labor costs involved. For example, hiring workers to rehab a bathroom can cost you as much as $75 per hour, and comprise up to 60% of your budget. Highly skilled pros, like plumbers or electricians, often cost even more per hour.
Of course, some jobs do require a licensed professional’s services — typically, those involving electrical wiring or plumbing (that’s why people often leave sinks, bathtubs, stoves and dishwashers in the same spot when remodeling). Even so, doing the less specialized parts of the renovation yourself can save you half of the project’s costs.
DIY savings by project type
The price tag on a DIY project is almost always lower, saving anywhere from 50% to 80% on a comparable contractor’s job, according to AHS data. Here are some examples of common projects and their costs.
|Project||% of jobs done DIY||Professional job cost (mean)||DIY cost (mean)||Amount of savings|