New homeowners are often overwhelmed by the compiling costs of renovations and maintenance. Angie’s List cofounder Angie Hicks made a guide for deciding when it’s worth it to DIY, and when outsourcing is a better move.
#1. Make A List
Angie suggests a yearly ritual of running down a list of every project needed for the home, and organizing them based on category. For example, structural problems, mechanical problems, cosmetic issues, renovations to specific rooms, wish list.
"When you are getting ready to buy a home, you look at it with a more critical eye than you ever will again," she says. "Once you're in it, you start thinking about your budget or you don't have the time."
Creating the list early on and updating it annually will help organize time and budget.
#2. Outsource What You Can’t Do Yourself
Two things which should never be DIY-ed are plumbing and electric. Trust Angie, it’s better to get a professional, and save costs along the line. Another thing she suggests is outsourcing anything on a ladder.
"People are like, Oh yeah, I'll just clean out my gutter. This is a task anyone can do. I just have to climb up this ladder and scoop the leaves out. But if they don't have the right sized ladder, or a secure base, that's where injuries happen."
Hiring an affordable and experienced service could same time and preserve long term health/wellness.
#3. Repair VS Replace
Hicks says, “If your appliances are seven or eight years old and it will cost half as much to fix them as it will to replace them, replace them.”
Staying aware and keeping track of how old the systems in your house are will help you anticipate future required repairs or replacements. It also helps with budgeting; if you know you need to replace a water filtration system, maybe now is not the time to redo the kitchen.
#4. Ask: Will This Renovation Increase My Property’s Value?
Think of renovations to your home as investments. Angie says good investments are kitchen and bathroom renovations, and smart home technology.
"For $1,200 you can buy the most popular smart home technology," she says. "That could increase the value of your home by 5%."
It also saves a significant amount of money on utility bills once installed.
She also warns against over-renovating, though. "When you think about remodeling, you want to keep up with the Jones's, not outdo them,” Angie says. “You don't want to price yourself out of the neighborhood."
#5. When to outsource for time
When considering home projects, a large part of determining the value of outsourcing is the time it will save you. If hiring someone to take care of a project for you gives you the time to focus on your career or spend time with loved ones, it’ll be worth considering.
It is important, however, to make sure outsourcing will not burden you too heavily financially.
#6. Don’t Forget to Negotiate
"It always can be a negotiation," Angie says. "And don't rest on getting one estimate. Get two or three estimates. It gives you an opportunity to negotiate and also to see if you have an outlier."
It is also important to make sure you get a written contract when commissioning work on your house.
Underplaying your starting budget is a good way to not go over. “If you're thinking about remodeling your bathroom and your budget is $10,000, tell the contractor it is $8,000. Have them work a plan at $8,000. Because something will come up. It always does."
#7. When to DIY
When you have the time, skills, and knowledge to complete a project, you’re ready to do it yourself. Start small, “something you can finish in a weekend."
As you gain experience, you can start to take on bigger projects.