Things Homeowners Don't Realize about DIY Projects


For many homeowners, remodeling projects are an exciting, hands-on way to personalize your home. To transform a house that not only calls out to you on a practical side, but also on your creative side, is an aspiration everyone wants to accomplish in their home remodeling project.

Based on the 2016 American Express Spending & Saving Tracker, 3 out of 4 homeowners plan to remodel their homes this year. With so many people looking to refresh their homes, the natural response for even the most frugal individual is to simply do the work themselves.

It must be faster, easier and cheaper to perform these remodeling projects on your own, right? With online resources such as Houzz, YouTube, and Instagram, DIY remodeling seems like a breeze involving a 3 minute how-to video, a can of paint and a nail gun. Wait -- set down the tool box!

Many DIYers aren’t aware that undertaking many of these projects without professional help could cost more than a can of paint or a sheet of dry wall. Before you plan for your next home remodeling project, here are a few things homeowners don’t realize about DIY projects:


The Actual Cost

Owning a home is expensive. It’s one, if not, the biggest investment anyone can finance with their hard-earned money; covering everything from buying, improving, maintaining, fixing and protecting your home. However, many fail to account for the cost of LIVING in your home while under the stress of a home remodeling project. Sometimes, a DIY project can actually take a heavier toll on your family than it does on your wallet.

From taking measurements, making interior selections, buying materials and performing the task, it takes a lot of energy and manpower to get the job done and comfortably live through it. Once you combine the added noise, mess, possible dangerous materials laying around the shared space of your children or pets, as well as working around your full-time job, a large amount of DIY projects can add a lot of unnecessary stress and tension to your home life. Needless to say, making sure that your house has lasting value without leaving a dent in your wallet is important. 

A good contractor will know and share the costs that are factored into your remodel ahead of time to prevent you from spending extra money and help reduce the stress and anxiety that comes with living through a home renovation project. Dave Peterson of MA Peterson eloquently states, “People take information very well and surprise poorly.”

Unfortunately, many homeowners see the only cost worth mentioning is the cost of materials. Realistically, some of the costs you may find when starting your project (that is, on top of buying materials yourself) include but are not limited to:

  • Changes to project to meet city code. This varies by city, so be sure to check your local codes.
  • Permit costs. Not pulling the permit before your remodel starts could lead to extra fees.
  • Needing necessary tools for the job. You realize your drill isn't strong enough, or you need a different type of saw for the right cut.
  • New issues found during your project. For instance:
    • Electrical was improperly wired (which could damage appliances or cause a fire)
    • Mechanical not set up correctly (depending on what task is at hand, this can lead to needing new systems)
    • Plumbing not installed properly (water damage, mold and mildew can cause health concerns and lead to other serious future costs if not taken care of)
  • Inspection costs. If a inspector has an issue with either the scope or process of your remodel, any fees to fix the error up to the inspector's standard will be solely be your responsibility versus the contractor's.
  • Overall home and project knowledge. You've dreamed of removing [what is unknowingly a load-bearing] wall to have an open-concept living area. Overlooking something as important as this could compromise your home's structure.

Click to view 'The Real Thing' by Mark Peterson.

Non-monetary costs include the timeline of your remodel. For example, a three week job for a general contractor might become a three month project for a mild-mannered homeowner. The percentage of risk, both potential damage to your home or yourself, spikes. In the end, you may need to hire someone to fix.

*The list above is comprised of estimated scenarios that may vary depending on project. Always consult a certified contractor before performing major remodeling work on your own. For accurate cost estimates and assistance for your next project, contact an experienced contractor at MA Peterson Design Build.

What “Built with YOUR Hands” Means

In our working lives, we as humans take pride in our accomplishments, successes and feats. Especially when it comes to our pet projects. In terms of home remodeling, this sense of accomplishment is no different.

In a study done by Google, nearly half of home owners performed DIY because they found themselves having a sense of accomplishment in their project. However, there is a BIG difference comparing the work of a DIY-er and a professional. In the words of Jesse Hynes-Carrolman of MA Peterson RefreshRepair: “I believe in trained people doing what they’re best at".

An experienced contractor, who has spent his/her professional career perfecting their craft, can not only do a quality job on your project, but understand how to accomplish it on time and within budget. If you plan to take on the project yourself, you may run into some of the problems previously mentioned and associated with actual costs.

Whether you want a project done your way or by a professional is entirely up to you. Keep in mind that having a room painted by a professional may look different than painting a room by yourself simply due to the skilled knowledge, tools and overall quality of the professional.

Best Way to Personalize your Home

What many people don’t realize when renovating their homes is the level of detail and planning that goes into the original design and construction.

Every structure was built with some level of diligence and care to meet municipal codes as well as the aesthetic and functional needs of the previous homeowner. Although you don’t have to live with every decision that the previous owner made to your current home, it does mean that you do have to take into account several elements (i.e. electrical, mechanical, plumbing and structural) of its original design.

A general contractor will often work with an interior designer (and/or a landscaping designer for exterior work) to help you find the best design that fits you and your home. Not every home remodel will run into the major dilemmas described above, DIY project or not.

It takes years of experience under the right management and the right design group to build a beautiful home that you are proud to call your own. The question you have to ask yourself is this: Are you willing to spend a little more to have your house built the right way, with the right craftsmanship and precision the first time?

If you are willing to make an investment within your biggest investment, please contact our experienced team at MA Peterson Design Build.