“Striking a balance between the work, the return on investment and the importance of family and your own time off may be the key to guiding the (DIY) process – approach DIY in a purposeful way. Take human bites. And then be sure you can chew what you bite.” ~Jack Costantino, Pres., TFU~
How far are you willing to go to have the home of your dreams? When paying for everything you want it to include exceeds your ability to write the checks or borrow the money…what would you do? If anything is changing in the way we build our homes it must be the increased knowledge and participation of the occupants.
Product and installation information is literally available with a few clicks of a mouse. In addition, on virtually any weekend free classes and seminars can be attended at Big Box Stores in most neighborhoods for installing kitchen cabinets, ceramic tile, finished flooring, etc. Then, the students can leave the store with not only the material for their projects, but the special tools and rental equipment required.
However, it may be that the most significant item they checkout with…is the confidence and will to engage the process; understanding that technical support is a phone call away. If all else fails, as a last resort they can always submit to a contractor specialist (while squinting their eyes, gritting their teeth and holding their breath as the cost is delivered).
When and where should an adventurous homeowner draw the line with what they are willing to undertake? What are the criteria which make the process more of a benefit than a liability? There is little doubt that the most valuable investment an owner can make in their construction budget is sweat equity. At general labor rates ranging from $30.00 to $50.00 per hour and experienced trade rates (carpentry, plumbing, electrical, etc.) at $85.00 to $125.00 per hour; it doesn’t take long to accumulate some serious money over the length of an installation.
Doing the simple math, a week (40 hours) of work at the above rates with two tradesman and one laborer equates to an average of $5,620.00.
By comparison to a DIYer, it’s obvious that we should expect the work will be performed more quickly, with fewer errors and more sophisticated outcome, but at what comparative cost? If the DIY approach is utilized can you live with a prolonged time table and possible compromise of quality? If attempting your own plumbing or electrical work, being properly schooled in the municipal inspection process can be daunting. Understanding uniform building codes may be more than many DIYer’s want to bite off. How far apart should wiring staples be? What is the proper size wire for varying amperages. How do you wire a three way switch, vent a toilet, support a window or door opening, flash a chimney, etc.
It’s true that all of this information is available in a way it never has been before. However, what are your personal limits in committing to research, understand and exercise the knowledge? Can you honestly estimate and understand the benefits as well the consequence of a home built on evenings and weekends off? How many “off” weekends does an active family really have before the rest of the family begins to feel sacrificed and ignored? What is the value of your own time?
Striking a balance between the work, the return on investment and the importance of family and your own time off may be the key to guiding the process. Bite off too much and you may grow to resent the process. Devote too little time to DIY projects and you may exceed your occupancy objectives…as well as a spouses ability to understand an ever extending deadline.
Approach DIY in a purposeful way. Take human bites. And then be sure you can chew what you bite.