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Culture 0

What’s the ROI on DIY?


Cable networks like HGTV and the aptly-named DIY Network broadcast some of the highest-rated shows on the airwaves, and it’s easy to understand why everyone thinks that they can strap on a tool belt and save themselves thousands of dollars on home projects. But when you are considering jumping into a do-it-yourself project at home there are a few things to keep in mind to make sure you finish the project with an end-product that resembles what you pictured in your head. Or, to just make sure you finish – period. (You know who you are!)

Return on Investment (ROI)

ROI is a major consideration for bankers making loans and business owners hiring employees and expanding their marketing plans. But we often forget to take it into account when we want to build our own flagstone patio or install new plumbing fixtures in the master bath. Remember to count your time and the special tools you will need to finish the project – not just materials alone. If you need expensive special equipment that can’t be rented for a day (or, let’s face it – a week) you may actually spend more by doing it yourself.

Quality of Work

What would make you happier: Being complimented on creating that mosaic tile Razorback yourself, or knowing that everyone can tell immediately that it IS a Razorback? If you are hiring out, make sure you get plenty of references, or you might end up paying someone else to do work that isn’t as nice as you would have done yourself. That said, if you are not very handy or it’s your first project, start small.

Here is a little guide to help you decide what you should try to do yourself, and what is best left for a professional.

DIY vs. Pro paint selection header

Painting – It’s easy to do, and plenty of information is available at the store and online to help you get it right. Talk to the salespeople to be sure you have the correct finish and everything you need to prevent return trips for extra paint or rollers.


Landscaping – Adding some color and texture to your yard is an easy weekend job as long as you have a few inexpensive tools. Go for it!

Tiling – A few specialized tools are required to work with tile, and tiling unusual-shaped spaces or around corners can be tricky for beginners. Keep your skill-level in mind and pay someone else if you want a truly professional-looking job.

DIY vs Pro plumbing repair projects

– There are tutorials on YouTube that can help a homeowner figure out how to install a toilet kit and replace a faucet. Basically, anything on the outside of the wall is doable. When you want to relocate the washer to the other side of the room, that’s when you need a professional. Not only because there are certain building codes they know and you don’t, but also because if you didn’t do something correctly behind a wall, you may not know about it until there’s a hefty repair bill in your hand.

Flooring – Installing wood or laminate floors looks so easy in those TV shows, doesn’t it? It’s misleading, believe me. You can do it yourself, but you’ll need to rent some equipment, and you should be confident with your math skills. Consider asking a friend who has done it before to help if you’re a flooring newbie.

DIY vs Pro wood molding trim
Molding – A nice row of crown molding around the top of the wall can add a lovely finishing touch in your home, but if it is not cut properly or the seams and nail holes aren’t caulked, you missed the mark. You’ll need a miter saw, and to brush up on your geometry. A handyman can do the work in half the time and save you rental fees.

Cabinetry – A pre-fab vanity in the bathroom can be installed by a first-timer in an afternoon, but an entire kitchen full of cabinets is a different thing. There is serious measuring and leveling to be done, you’ll need at least one other person helping you, and it will be obvious if it isn’t done well. Do your research before you rip out your current cabinets.

Framing a wall – Those shows where they knock down entire walls and rebuild walls make it look so quick and easy. Well, it can be quick… but it’s not usually easy. You really should hire this out unless you are a carpenter yourself. It requires tool experience, a precise attention to detail and an understanding of techniques like “toeing it in”.

Drywall – Once the framing is done, installing drywall is simple, like icing a cake, right? Not so much. There is a technique involved in making sure the mud (that white pasty stuff) is applied correctly over the screws and joints, and it takes more than ten minutes to learn to get it just right. Better to let the professionals do it.

Have you tackled a home project recently? Tell us about it in the comment section of this post.

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Arkansas Women Blogger Laurie is a writer and artist living in Springdale, Arkansas with her husband, son and three cats who think they’re people. She can’t keep her fingernails clean, prefers her tea unsweet, and is on a first-name basis with local thrift store employees. You can follow Laurie at See Laurie Write and Junque Rethunque.

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