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Calculating the Costs of DIY Repairs

If you’re a fan of HGTV or just spend all your time browsing DIY videos on YouTube, you may be under the impression that nearly any home repair can be done via DIY. Many people get visions of saving tons of money by completing home repairs themselves. While it can be fun and fulfilling to do work on your home yourself, most homeowners significantly underestimate the cost of doing their own home repairs.

Here are some important points to keep in mind when calculating the cost of DIY repairs.

Tools

One thing many homeowners fail to budget for when planning DIY repairs is the cost of tools to complete the work. If it’s a simple plumbing job or a basic drywall repair, for example, you might be able to get by with whatever hand tools you already have at home. But the more complex a project becomes, the more likely you’ll need specialized tools to complete the work correctly and safely. If you do a lot of work around the house, it might make sense for you to invest in the tools you need for an upcoming DIY project. However, if you don’t have the time to do a lot around the house, it could be more prudent to hire a professional who already has all the tools necessary to complete the work.

Materials

Materials are another seriously underestimated expense with DIY home repairs. Not only should you budget for the retail cost of materials, but you need to allow extra to account for any mistakes or unexpected problems you might encounter. Mistakes are inevitable, especially if you’re doing something for the first time. So, be sure to give yourself some wiggle room when calculating the cost of materials for your project. The cost of materials can vary widely between geographic regions, so be sure you check costs for your local area when researching the cost of materials. You’ll also want to research the quality and be sure you’re not saving money by using subpar building materials. Don’t sink your project before it starts by using shoddy materials or unrealistic costs for your area. Low-quality materials can fail more easily and end up costing you much more money in the long run.

Time

It is very common to miscalculate how much time a DIY project can take. It’s easy to watch an expert complete the work in an online video and assume that’s how much time it will take you, as well. However, what you don’t see, and many people don’t account for when planning a project are all the hidden elements that take time, such as planning the project, watching videos and researching how to do the work, actually doing the work, extra trips to the hardware store, interruptions at home, etc. 

Most DIY projects take at least twice as long as people expect, and oftentimes, it’s much longer than that. Though your time probably doesn’t have a financial cost for a DIY project, you have to consider the opportunity cost for all the other things you won’t be able to do while you’re working on your repair.

Contingency

Only once in a blue moon do repair projects go completely as expected, and that’s true for professionals, as well. That’s why it’s important to have contingencies in place for any DIY projects. You’ll want to have contingencies in the budget for any unexpected problems that come up in the course of the project, as well as a contingency plan, in case you aren’t able to complete the work, or the repair doesn’t resolve the problem. Depending on the size of the project, a good contingency budget is anywhere from 10 to 25 percent of the project’s total cost.

Quality

Though it may not be something you want to admit, you should ask yourself if the quality of the work will be satisfactory when you’re finished with your repair. Poor quality workmanship can be an eyesore at best and cause safety problems in the worst cases. Plus, if your home appears to have subpar work done, it can devalue your home on the real estate market. Not all repair jobs require the skills of a master craftsman, but be honest with yourself about your abilities, because there can be long term consequences if you don’t complete the work in a way that looks professional and functions correctly. It’s going to end up costing a lot more money if you have to pay a professional later to redo the work you already did.

Knowledge

While the internet has blessed us with almost unlimited access to information, there are simply some projects you should never tackle yourself, because they require specialized knowledge and can present serious safety issues if you try to handle them without the proper training. Electrical work is one such example. Not only is electricity very dangerous if you don’t know what you’re doing, improperly installed electrical components can start fires months or years later. Learning to do home repairs on your own is a great skill to have, but some work should always be left to the professionals, so be sure to make that distinction when planning your DIY repair project. 

Depending on the project you’re planning to tackle, doing it yourself can easily end up overwhelming both your time and your budget. Though it can be very satisfying to tackle home repairs on your own, be sure you have a complete understanding of what you’re getting into before you start.

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