Saving with DIY Projects

Saving with DIY Projects

Saving with DIY projects can be a rewarding experience.  Projects come in many shapes, sizes and experience levels.   The savings is not the only reward that comes from performing a DIY project because the experience builds for the next time.  As your skill develop, you will be able to understand how resourceful you can be.  Many of the projects around our house have my distinct touch.  There are some key exceptions that will be explained shortly.

 What Makes a Great DIY Project?

With the wide variety of projects, you may wonder what makes a great DIY project.  Great projects and even good projects have a few elements in common. 

  • Safe to Perform
  • Appropriate Skill Range
  • Relatively Few Special Tools
  • High Premium from Professionals

Once the project has been evaluated for the four characteristics then you know this will be a great project.  Saving with DIY projects can be well worthwhile if they fit these characteristics.

Safe to Perform

First and foremost, your own safety and the safety of those around must be accounted.  The project is never worth it if you or someone else gets hurt.  Safety goes beyond just the initial project.  Some tasks have a hidden danger after they are complete.  Make sure you are aware of the safety risks of the project you are getting ready to start. 

With that said, many projects are not complete with some skinned knuckles or slight bruising.  Occasionally you will find some hair in your hands from pulling it out.  That is perfectly normal and give extra character to the project once it is complete.

Proceed with extreme caution on the following types of projects:

  • Anything with Natural Gas such as a water heater or furnace.  Most cities require a licensed professional.
  • Electrical projects involving the junction box.  Many cities require a licensed professional beyond the outlet.
  • Anything with a high risk of falling.  This may be personal since I don’t like heights at all.

There may be other projects that require additional caution, but those present risks that are hard to protect against.  Saving with DIY projects only make sense if they are safe while you are working and after they are complete.

Appropriate Skill Range

An appropriate skill range predicts how successful and enjoyable your DIY project will be.  There are few things worse than getting right in the middle of a project to find out I am completely over my head.  That has happened more times than I would like to admit, but I have rarely needed to call in a professional.  By the way, YouTube is not a great indication of the skills required. 

Assessing your skills can be as simple as reviewing any projects you have previously completed or tasks that are familiar.  Now the project may be slightly more difficult to assess.  Typically, I will review YouTube and DIY sites to get a sense of the difficulty.  If the project looks more involved, I may schedule a professional to come out with an estimate, which will be explained toward the end of this article.  During the estimate, I discuss the process, and most provide free advice. 

A beginner should be able to perform most of these projects and tasks:

  • Fixing a clogged or leaky drain
  • Repair or replace a toilet
  • Paint a room or the whole house (if you’re ambitious)
  • Replace a car battery, air filter, brake pads and oil

Saving with DIY projects are most enjoyable if the skill required is within your ability to complete the project.  Sometimes projects that are slightly above my skill level are enjoyable, but they must be just slightly above.

Relatively Few Special Tools

Sometimes a standard toolbox will provide everything that is needed for a project.  Sometimes special tools are required.  When special tools are required, it may be worthwhile to purchase a cheap version from a discount hardware store.  Since the project will not last long an inferior tool should work.  When there are no cheap versions or several special tools are required, then calling the professionals would be completely appropriate. 

 High Premium from Professionals

As I mentioned, there are times that I will call a professional for an expert opinion and estimate.  Before the estimate starts, I learn about the project and general material costs.  Saving the labor costs make the DIY worthwhile, but the total estimate must be separated from the material costs to determine the labor costs.  Certain projects have relatively low material costs once all the bill of material collected.  With labor as the primary requirement, saving with DIY projects can prove very effective.

Tell Me About Your Projects

Saving with DIY projects can be a rewarding experience.  If you select the right project, it can be enjoyable.  Tell me about any projects that you have done.  Was your project an incredible success or a miserable failure?  Do you have any projects that you have been thinking about?  If you have more advice for picking the right project, please let me know.