As a potential first time home buyer, you’re definitely going to come across homes that may need some work. If you can afford it, you may choose to skip over those ones and lean toward buying something that’s move in ready with no work required. However, in many markets this just isn’t realistic. The fact is, in many areas housing costs are so expensive, that first time buyers have no choice but to buy something that will require some form of renovation or upgrades. The big question is, can you do it yourself, or should you hire a professional?
Here are a couple questions to ask yourself to find the answer:
Am I Actually Capable of Doing the Work and Doing It Properly?
Certain work can be done by almost anyone. Painting is always the first thing that comes to mind. As a contractor, I can definitely tell the difference between a DIY paint job and a professional one, but, I still encourage people to do their own painting as it really doesn’t hurt anyone at the end of the day if the painting isn’t perfect. And even if the edges aren’t cut in perfectly, adding that coat of paint will probably make a big impact on the home’s appearance. So, if you like getting your hands dirty, jump in.
There are however, areas of the home where we need to be honest with ourselves about our capabilities. Doing a DIY plumbing job for example could cause a slow water leak that might eventually turn to rot and mold. This could have a huge negative impact on your family or someone else’s family down the road. Very few people (who aren’t pros) are qualified to do renovation work like plumbing, electrical, and structural renovations, but it happens all the time.
Unfortunately, it’s usually the next owner that pays the price.Before purchasing a home, be honest with yourself about what you should or shouldn’t be doing. and budget accordingly for any trades people that you may have to hire.
It It More Cost Effective For Me to Go To Work and Pay a Professional?
This is a calculation that very few people consider. Many people have the ability to work some overtime at their job. If not, it’s possible to get a part time job to supplement the salary from your full-time job. I can almost guarantee that hour for hour, you’ll make more money at your day job than you’ll save doing your own renovations.Hour for hour, you’ll make more money at your day job than you’ll save doing your own renovations.Click To Tweet
Consider this: approximately one half of renovation costs are (most often) materials, so you need to pay for that weather you do it or someone else does it for you. So there’s only one half left on the table.
Let’s Run Some Quick Numbers
On a $10,000 reno, you only have the potential to save $5,000. Let’s assume the tradesperson makes $25 per hour and you make the same. In many areas, trades people will charge much more than this, but generally speaking if trades people’s wages are higher, so are everyone else’s. $5,000 worth of work is 200 hours at $25 per hour. Now if you try to do the work of the trades people, it would be a miracle if you could do it in double the amount of time that it takes them. And to be brutally honest with you, by the time you organize getting all the materials to the house, figure out what you need, spend hours on google figuring out how to do it, you’re probably going to be into this for five times longer than a good professional would be.
Now, if you just spent that time going to work, the extra money you could make would pretty much cancel out the trades people hour for hour. Even if it ends up being 2 to 1, you’re still likely to come out ahead. PLUS, you have the peace of mind knowing everything was done properly, and you’ll also end up with a better finished product.
Even Professionals Hire Other Professionals
I’m a contractor who’s around this stuff everyday, and I’m much faster at DIY projects than the average person. Yet, when I built my own home, I still hired experienced professionals to do the vast majority of the work. There’s just no way around the fact that I’m much better at my own job than I am at theirs. And there’s a high possibility that you can say the same.
Bottom line: Your time is valuable! Don’t underestimate that!