Top 5 Reasons to DIY

For those of you that need a reason to “Do it Yourself”, here are the top 5 reasons I came up with:

#1 – Save money

The most expensive part of any Home Improvement project is the labor. When you do it yourself, labor is free! Also, when you buy your own material, you avoid markups from contractors, you have the ability to shop around for the lowest price, and you can use store discounts and coupons. Many home improvement stores (such as Lowe’s) offer a 10% military discount, consistently offer credit card promotions, and sales rotate throughout the various departments on a regular basis. Also, if money is tight, you can extend the project over a longer period of time and buy materials as you need them. When you do it yourself, you are in control of how much you spend, where your money goes, and when you pay for it.

#2 – Pride

Nothing creates a sense of pride quite like sweat equity. When you Do it Yourself, you become proud of your home, proud of the work you put in, and you appreciate and take care of it more. Just imagine; your friends come over and compliment you on how great the kitchen (that you remodeled) looks. Suddenly the response is no longer “oh yeah, the contractor ripped us off and they messed up on [blank],” but your response changes to “oh thanks, we put a lot of work into it and it really paid off!” You might already be proud of where you live, but when you add your own personal touch and your own sweat, you develop pride of ownership on another level.

#3 – Customization

Although you may think you know what you want when you start a project, you don’t. When you hire someone else to do the job for you, you give up all control, and changes on the go are going to cost you a pretty penny. Many design elements are very hard to see on paper, and until you start to see your project evolve, you just won’t know what will work or what you like. Also, as you go, you may begin to think of additional functionality that you had never thought of before. For example, as we were building our office shelves I thought “wouldn’t it be nice to have a power strip built-in just in case we want to put a printer or stereo on that shelf?” Since we were doing it ourselves, we ordered the appropriate power strip, made some slight adjustments to our plans, and we were able to add it in no problem. If I had been working with a contractor, he probably would have walked off the job dealing with me, but if he stayed, every little change I made would have substantially affected the cost of labor.

#4 – Family bonding

Whether you are a young married couple in your first home or have teenage kids that you need to keep out of trouble, what better way to spend time together as a family than to build something. Projects give you some common ground to connect on and can be a great form of entertainment. If you put your “entertainment” budget into a “home improvement” budget, you get a return on your investment and you get to spend time together doing something productive and educational. When your family works together to improve your family home, it will feel like a family home that everyone can be proud of.

#5 – Excuse to buy tools

Well just in case I didn’t convince you yet to do it yourself, how about the excuse it gives you to buy more tools? How about that table saw you have been drooling over, or the cordless drill you can’t convince your spouse you need. Well here is your chance! There are some basics that you will need to get started (I will go into these more later), and with all the money you save from doing it yourself, you can afford to buy the tools you need to do the job (if you can’t buy all the tools you need right away, tool rental is another great option). Once you own the tools, you can practice your techniques anytime, and future projects become easier and easier to do.

I hope you are convinced to DIY. Please feel free to leave a comment sharing your thoughts.

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DI….Why?

Maybe you just bought your first house and you want to make it your own. Maybe you are renting and your landlord said you can make small changes if they better the place. Maybe you have been living in the same house for 20 years and just want to make a change. Whatever the scenario, there are plenty of projects to be done and plenty of reasons to “Do it Yourself”.

I have always been the DIY type. As a little girl, my room never stayed in the same arrangement for more than a couple of weeks. I was always looking to change something, and since I wasn’t allowed to paint or make extravagant changes, moving furniture around was how I expressed myself. Whenever something needed to be assembled, I jumped at the opportunity to put it together. And instructions? What were those? It was figuring out the puzzle on my own that made it fun and interesting.

Then there were the annual Halloween costumes. Each year (with the help of my parents), I built an award winning Halloween costume, each typically taking 1-2 months to complete. A Christmas tree, Mr. Potato Head, Slinky Dog, and the Outhouse were just a few of our creations.

       

Come college, living in off campus housing with landlords that wanted all the money without doing any of the upkeep, I was on my own if I wanted something done. With limited storage space and limited resources, I made my own closet shelves with cinderblocks and scraps of wood that were left around the house. When we wanted cable to every room of the house, I split the cable and ran it throughout the house so everyone had it.

Post college, I moved into another rental property, and although my landlord was a sweetheart, she was only renting because she couldn’t sell in the economy, and didn’t know the first thing about maintaining a rental property. Lucky for her, we were happy to handle any minimal maintenance that came up in exchange for just “not being bothered”. From painting the house, to fixing the toilets and doors, to laying strips of sod in the postage stamp back yard. The projects were minimal, but projects nonetheless.

Then there was Bea the rabbit. Being the loving pet owner I was, I let her have free run of our previous apartment. $800 and no security deposit later, I realized that was a bad idea. So when we moved, I built her a 2-story rabbit condo so we could both be happy. Later on, my roommate ended up with a little 1-pound Chihuahua that couldn’t get on her bed at night. I felt bad for the poor little thing, so I surprised my roommate with doggie steps made just for her.

After marriage and a baby, we bought our first house, and the real projects began. We bought a fairly new home, but it was basic inside and had no landscaping in the backyard. We were also on the green of a golf course, and the previous golf net was falling down and in horrible shape. Needless to say, there was work to be done. Lucky for us, my dad had built 2 houses himself, remodeled several others, and lived right down the street. We were able to tap into his expertise and learn many of the tricks that he had learned over a lifetime of “doing it himself” (I will share many of these invaluable tips in my blog).

Now, 1 ½ years after moving into our house, we have built an 16’ golf net (one for our neighbor too), made a dog run on the side yard, landscaped the backyard, updated the door handles and light fixtures, built a 16’ workbench and storage in the garage, remodeled our office/guest room with library shelving and a murphy bed, added a counter and shelving to our laundry room, and created under house storage with lighting. We have been busy, but there is still so much more to do.

I will go into some of these project details in later blog entries, but the point is, no matter what stage of your life you are in, no matter where you live, no matter what your budget, there are always projects to be done and ways to do them. When you hire the “professionals” you are paying 3 times as much just for labor, and any materials needed get marked up as well. Of course doing it yourself is not always an option, but when it is, why not? Doing it yourself creates a sense of pride and ownership unlike any other and allows you to customize things as you go to fit your needs. When you can look around your house and see all the things you have accomplished, your house truly becomes a home.