:::: MENU ::::

Cost of DIY projects – Part I


I realize that the BAD community does not like my plan to put some money into my house these next couple of months. And I’m not putting a dollar amount there. And I won’t be. But I am not going to go crazy, I will remain frugal.

I just published my budget for October. And before everyone freaks out about the open line item for Housing spending, I thought I would tell you how that’s going so far this month.

Here’s the first update on the project list I originally published:

  1. New blinds in the front windows – labor DIY – DONE – no $$$ spent, but lots of frustration and about 2 days of labor as I did it 100% by myself. I will have to replace a couple of drill bits eventually as I stripped a few, but live and learn, I will do better next time.
  2. Paint all the trim – labor DIY – STARTED – painting the trim in the living room as I replaced the blinds. What a pain! No $$$ spent as I have almost 1/2 a gallon of the white paint and paint brushes from all the other walls we have painted.
  3. Trim out living room doorway which we expanded – labor DIY
  4. Install kitchen backsplash – labor DIY – READY TO START – I have the tile here, left over from the shower we did, but I did need a few things, spent $60 on supplies/tools but shouldn’t need anything else to finish this project except time.
  5. Center and install ceiling fan in kitchen – pay for help
  6. Change out dining room light fixture – labor DIY?
  7. Install kitchen light fixture – labor DIY? – DONE – contractor who helped me install my dishwasher/countertops did this as included in my negotiated price. I am so grateful!
  8. Paint existing switch covers and reinstall – labor DIY
  9. Upcycle existing 5 interior doors – labor DIY
  10. Create some focal walls – labor DIY (I priced out the stick on rustic wood look, whoa, that stuff is expensive so looking for more affordable alternatives other than just paint, ideas?)
  11. Clean, rearrange and decorate Princess’ room – labor DIY and will use existing furniture (she’s onboard with this plan)
  12. Furnish deck – RESEARCHING – I have an old, solid oak dining room set with 6 chairs. It needs some love, but it’s plenty comfortable for what I want on the deck. It’s not my dream patio set but it would do for now. So I’m doing some research to see what I would need to do to make it as weather resistant as possible. If it could last 3ish years outside, that would be awesome. (I’ve had it listed for sale for $150 for months, but no takers. So I might as well put some poly on it or something and see if I can make it work for now.)
  13. Upcycle some old doors that I’ve had for ages to use as decoration/cast iron storage hangers – labor DIY
  14. Build barn door for hall bath – labor DIY
  15. Hang new curtains in the living room – labor DIY – IN PROGRESS – I spent just under $40 for what I thought would complete this project. However, I didn’t get enough curtain panels, I need two more at ~$12 each (purchased on sale so hoping they are still on sale) and the rod I got is missing a piece so I’m hoping they will just open up another one and give me the correct piece. Again, I did all the labor myself.

    The before of the trim I painted, the windows I covered with blinds and then finally adding curtains. Curtains aren’t complete at time that I wrote this.

  16. Complete upgrades to hall bath & hang bar door – pay for help (already have a quote for this) – RESEARCHING – plan to finalize decisions for this next weekend so I can budget it out as this will be a bit more of a $$$ investment
  17. Build myself a closet of sorts – labor DIY? (have a paid labor quote for this but may attempt myself)

Progress – it took me ALL DAY to take down old blinds (probably been there 50 years), clean the rotting wood trim real good, sand it down, paint it and hang two of the 3 blinds. I finished up the 3rd blind and started on the curtains the next day.

Total spent in the first two weeks of September = $100 and I anticipate spending less than $40 more to finish off the living room curtains this week.

Not a professional but I can do this

It wears me out to work on my house. And I’m definitely not a professional. Gymnast comment when he saw these were “are you sure you hung those right?”

But every day I grow more proud. Not in the prideful, look at me way, but that I am finally able to provide a stable place for all my kids to come to, to find rest in. It’s been 13 years since my ex-husband and I split, I have struggled with housing all that time.

We don’t live extravagantly. I’m not trying to “upgrade my lifestyle”…Except for the dishwasher, that was definitely a splurge just for me and an upgrade to my lifestyle. But I want a home where they feel safe and proud to bring their friends without mold growing in the bathroom or tiles peeling off the floor. Where there are tiles on the bathroom walls versus crumbling remnants of what used to be. Most all of our furniture are garage sale finds or DIY…did you see Gymnast bed frame when I showed you my wardrobe idea for the office. He built it out of scrap wood and free pallets. My wall art is all from projects the kids have done.

Saving $$$ by doing it myself

The thing is, I could not afford to hire someone to do all this. To make it professional. But more than I want professional, I want out of debt. And everything I do myself, I save myself literally hundreds of dollars. So for the next 3 months, I am giving myself guilt free permission to spend the money on what I need to get the house to a certain place.

I’ve got tough skin. So you can condemn my choices especially when I get off track. I appreciate the constructive criticism, the have you considered this comments and so on. But you have not lived in my shoes, see a glimpse of what we have been through.


  • Reply Ellen |

    Hope, we have watched you over the last few years struggle, make mistakes, and continue to struggle. I will say that while you may have made some choices that the BAD community grills you for, it does seem like you are learning (somewhat). Your past financial blunders were things that didn’t exactly need (cars, trips, etc.) But now you have added a large Asset to your list. That in my eyes is a great thing! You’re no longer wasting money paying someone else’s mortgage and you no longer have to worry about someone else having to come to fix something that may go wrong.

    Please keep in mind that not all projects need to be done all at once. Also, when you are changing things up, think of the value of your home. Are the changes being made bringing that value up or down? If you ever decided to sell the home, would it be worth what you paid for it?
    DIYing is not always the best choice. doing things cheaply is not always the best choice. Kitchens and bathrooms are the most valuable in the house. As a single empty nester, would you need three bedrooms? Would you possibly downgrade to something smaller. If you do decide to sell later on, would the changes made by appealing to the next person or would they bring down their offer because they have to redo the kitchen? Keep all these things in mind as you are choosing what to change. Just my little .02

  • Reply SMS |

    Not complaining, sounds like good planning. But asking whether various kids could help, especially the ones who live there?

    • Reply Hope |

      Only Gymnast is at home. And he is working almost full time and going to school. He’s also the sports anchor for the high school tv broadcast so when he does have free time he attends some sporting events. He’s super busy. But will pitch in when I need help. He just doesn’t have alot of time.

  • Reply Den |

    Hope – I think it’s wonderful that you are DIYing a lot of house projects. You will save money, learn a lot, and have a wonderful home for you and your kids. We learned over the years that most DIY projects go over budget and over time (about 20%) so keep that in mind.

    Please keep posting project photos – I enjoy seeing your progress!

    • Reply Hope |

      Time, definitely! Thankfully since getting the first bathroom and now kitchen mostly done I am in no rush for things. Just get them done as I have time and resources.
      We’ve been pretty good about staying well under budget. I’m an avid Recycle store shopper and save everything to reuse.
      I will keep you updated!

  • Reply Jen |

    If you’re going to put money in your house, put money in your house. What you are NOT doing is being smart about the renovations. Assuming you ever get to a point where the house is paid off, and you want to retire…that’s your largest asset. You have barely saved anything at all for retirement. You NEED to take into consideration the resale value. You are adding no value with the renovations you’ve shown, if anything you’re driving the value down.

    • Reply Hope |

      New roof = $
      Upgraded electric = $
      Converted 1 1/2 bath to 2 bath = $
      Replaced decades old linoleum throughout with ceramic tile = $
      Two brand new baths with new electric/plumbing/everything = $
      Open floor plan = $
      Back yard access = $
      Original small board pine floors refurbished (planned for a couple of years down the road) = $
      New windows (planned for a couple years down the road) = $

      The only renovation I’ve done that would not increase the value of my home are my open shelves…and I’m okay with that. Everything else as listed above certainly adds value should I ever sell this home. But I do not have plans to do that. If I ever chose to move, not my plan either, then would convert to rental. But thanks for your input.

      • Reply cwaltz |

        Most of these items are not items YOU did but items the seller did in order to entice you into buying. That’s the point some of these posters are trying to make. You may find yourself in a similar situation if you are not careful. Your landlord did not net $98,000 because he had to pay a professional to redo the roof, upgrade the electric, put tile in, etc, etc. He netted 98,000 minus the cost of all the upgrades he made to sell it to you.

        Even if the thought process is that I intend to live here for the rest of my life, this house is an asset that’s value is what you will leave to your kids. You should hope to make it so that it has the most value with the least cost. DIY or sweat equity is fine in some instances but you should be careful because some things may require permits(adding a half bathroom definitely should have required a permit since plumbing is something a house ties into in townships.) if you don’t get the proper permits they can make you tear out the work you have done thereby wasting money.

So, what do you think ?