Tuesday, June 15, 2010

remodeling reality

My wife and I are planning a small bathroom remodeling project. We are considering doing the work ourselves to save money on labor. What are the pros and cons of doing your own work versus hiring a professional?

The first thing that I like to tell people who ask me this question is to only do the work yourself if you “want” to. The reason that I say that is because most people don't actually save any real money when they do a remodeling project. I'll explain why later.

The fact that you are asking this question tells me that you aren't sure that you “want” to tackle this project on your own. The best advice I can give is to watch some home repair and remodeling shows. If you watch them and feel excited and interested, you may just “want” to dive right into your own project. If it looks like a lot of work and your palms sweat and your heart races at the thought of doing your own bathroom, you may want to hire a professional.

The reason I say this is because, typically, you might not be saving as much money as you initially thought. In fact, you may actually not save any money at all. Two things that you need to seriously consider is how long the project will take you to complete and how much you make at your regular job. That's where your savings comes into reality. If you are planning on taking a week off from work to complete this project, how much did you lose in wages? Remodeling contractors typically complete a bathroom remodel in a week. The average homeowner, however, will take much longer. So, how much do you normally make in four weeks at your regular job? Also, if you take the amount of labor costs you are saving and divide it by the (realistic) amount of hours it will take you to complete your project, how much are you making per hour?

This is why I say that it all comes down to whether you “want” to do the work yourself. If you think that it will be fun for you, go for it. If you feel that you will get a sense of pride from your accomplishment and have faith in your craftsmanship, break out the tools. If your main (or only) motivation is to save money, you might want to think it over some more. A better plan may be to try to put in some more hours at your regular job, try to get some overtime. The professionals make money by sticking to what they know how to do. You may find that this works best for you as well.

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