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DIY Projects
Old 06-25-2008, 08:55 AM   #1
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DIY Projects

Came across the following article on a finance blog:

The Surprising Costs of DIY - Personal Finance Advice

Anyone into DIY, and if so, what types of projects?
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Old 06-25-2008, 09:10 AM   #2
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I paint, hang wallpaper, do my own yard work and landscaping. I also stained the new fence we had built a few years ago.

I tear down walls and remove flooring...but I leave the renovations to the experts.
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Old 06-25-2008, 09:18 AM   #3
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Well, not to knock on that article too much, but the gist of it is that they didn't research costs for a lot of things on a project that ended up being bigger than they could comfortably handle. The key is to do little things and work your way up the skill level.

Here are DIY projects I've done in the last year:

Paint the house (inside) - Quote was $5k and the work would be done over 17(!) days. I already owned brushes, picked up some other supplies. Spent 4 days (mostly evenings) and did it myself.

Floorboards and quarter round in two rooms - Quote was $3k. I already owned a miter saw ($110 on sale from Home Depot) and I borrowed a finish nailer and compressor from friends. Picked up the lumber and poly for under $100 and did the work myself. Probably spent 10 hours of my own time (coat the boards, go do something else while they dry... sand, recoat... ). Filling the holes was the most tedious part.

Bed slat frame - Could have bought one for $600 + delivery. Ordered the latex strips for $100 and spent another $80 on lumber (spent a lot more because I got clear pine 1x4's rather than the building grade). I used metal squares and t's to join the base and then screwed in the 21 1x4's. I used the miter saw for all of my cuts so that went fast. Whole project took 3 hours, including cutting and glueing the latex strips to the 1x4's.

There were a lot more projects before that... the biggest mistake from a DIY perspective was doing the wood floor in our master bedroom. It was still cheaper than getting it installed, but I didn't spend enough time on the weekend so I ended up keeping the stapler for a week rather than a couple days. I had to rent that so, wit the final bill, it would have been much cheaper to buy one, use it, and then sell it on Craigslist.

I factor my time into the cost of the project, but usually at a discounted rate if it's not keeping me from other work... and in the middle of February in Minnesota it's not like I'm passing up nice weather outside.
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Old 06-25-2008, 09:21 AM   #4
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Yeah, the problem with most DIY projects is that the end product looks like you did it yourself.

That said, I've done enough wood and tile flooring to top the "professional" install. Put a cork floor in the kids play room. 3 hours into the job I recognized the joints needed to be glued (directions do not call for glue). So I glued EVERY joint.

Fast forward a year, MIL hires a high end floor installer to put cork down in her basement. He didn't glue the joints (not supposed to he said). The floor didn't last 6 months before its pulling away in 6 different places (all high traffic areas). Sooo I pulled it apart and glued it for her. These guys are obviously not worth the install fee for this product ... and they weren't cheap.
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Old 06-25-2008, 09:27 AM   #5
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Yeah, the problem with most DIY projects is that the end product looks like you did it yourself.

That said, I've done enough wood and tile flooring to top the "professional" install. Put a cork floor in the kids play room. 3 hours into the job I recognized the joints needed to be glued (directions do not call for glue). So I glued EVERY joint.

Fast forward a year, MIL hires a high end floor installer to put cork down in her basement. He didn't glue the joints (not supposed to he said). The floor didn't last 6 months before its pulling away in 6 different places (all high traffic areas). Sooo I pulled it apart and glued it for her. These guys are obviously not worth the install fee for this product ... and they weren't cheap.
What's the big deal with cork? Is is that durable
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Old 06-25-2008, 09:28 AM   #6
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I..hang wallpaper...
No way, drives me insane. Only job worse I ever swore off was changing a car muffler...
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Old 06-25-2008, 09:31 AM   #7
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What's the big deal with cork? Is is that durable
Durable, quiet, and environmentally friendly, in that it's a relatively short-cycle renewable resource.

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No way, drives me insane. Only job worse I ever swore off was changing a car muffler...
Wallpaper is verboten!!
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Old 06-25-2008, 09:33 AM   #8
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Durable, quiet, and environmentally friendly, in that it's a relatively short-cycle renewable resource.
How's the cost in relation to carpet? Can you put an elevated subfloor under it to protect against a little water spill??
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Old 06-25-2008, 09:42 AM   #9
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How's the cost in relation to carpet? Can you put an elevated subfloor under it to protect against a little water spill??
Can't answer that first hand, but a quick Google shows it to be comparable to carpet; i.e. $3-$5 sf. Being a "solid" material, it's good for folks with dust mite allergies. And it's allegedly impervious by water.

Been watching too much DIY and HGTV...
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Old 06-25-2008, 09:47 AM   #10
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No way, drives me insane. Only job worse I ever swore off was changing a car muffler...
That's ok...I'm convinced you have to have ovaries to hang wallpaper.
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Old 06-25-2008, 09:59 AM   #11
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That's ok...I'm convinced you have to have ovaries to hang wallpaper.
I'll second that notion, I'm terrible at it. However, I did put up some nice borders in the boy's rooms, albeit the anal way, by drawing a light pencil line all the way around the room, and gluing the top part of the border to the line, and erasing the line after it all dried........

Of course, NOW they have the border you can pull off and restick, but that wasn;t readily available when I did my project..........
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Old 06-25-2008, 10:08 AM   #12
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The crazy thing is, out of all the work I've done, I can't hammer a nail in straight! Maybe I'm not holding my tongue right.
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Old 06-25-2008, 10:22 AM   #13
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I've done about everything DIY from roofing to foundations, and almost everything in between. I don't particularly love any if it, but I don't particularly hate any of it either. Now that I'm retired, I just don't have time to do all sorts of household DIY's, so unless it's some piddly little thing, I'm hiring it done......especially plumbing, since I'm no longer able to contort to fit in some of the nooks & crannies where some of the plumbing is located (i.e. under sinks). I have a lot of friends who are in the 'trades' (roofers, plumbers, electricians, carpenters, etc) that do odd jobs on the side, and are more than willing to work for cash after-hours.

And up until the mid-1980's, I did almost all of my own automotive maintenance & repairs...engine & carb rebuilds.....even replacing mufflers. These days I'll replace an occasional dead battery, but most other stuff gets taken care of by either my retired neighbor next door (a mechanic), or I take it to the dealer's garage.

It's a completely different story when it comes to DIY projects out in the gardens and landscape! I love doing outdoor projects, and am out there year 'round!!! I don't like anybody messing around out there...except myself!!!
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Old 06-25-2008, 10:25 AM   #14
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The crazy thing is, out of all the work I've done, I can't hammer a nail in straight! Maybe I'm not holding my tongue right.
Same here! Seems the only nail that I have ever been able to consistently hit.....is a thumb nail!
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Old 06-25-2008, 10:27 AM   #15
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I also wallpaper at least I did in New Jersey . In Florida with the humidity it is a lot harder . You need to use a lot of paste that self stick does not hold .
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Old 06-25-2008, 10:33 AM   #16
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Now that I have the time I've been doing it all. I just finished tinting all the windows in my house. Now I have a new found respect for anyone who earns a living doing window tinting.

I've also been doing window treatments, landscaping and anything else DW can think of. Oh yeah, I also put a new cam in my old chevelle.
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Old 06-25-2008, 10:34 AM   #17
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Built a pergola.
Built an outdoor kitchen. Took a lot of time, but am very pleased with the result.
Currently landscaping backyard.
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Old 06-25-2008, 10:54 AM   #18
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Really poor article, IMO. Of course they were 'surprised', they didn't do a lick of research!

' We neglected to budget for the gravel and sand'

And unless I missed it, they didn't mention renting a powered gravel compactor - without that, their patio is probably going to look like heck in 6 months.

I also didn't see where they stated what their final cost was versus a pro. How do you 'compare' w/o that?

Funny thing is, I'll be dropping a check off today to have someone put in a paver block patio for us, also ~ 240 sq ft. I'd guess that the materials are ~ 1/3 the cost. But when I think about digging out 120 cubic ft of dirt, leveling, moving all that heavy stuff, where am I gonna put the gravel,sand,pavers while I do this, I'll have to rent the compactor, etc, etc. It's more than I care to spend, but not something I want to do myself. Plus, I would probably hurt my back in the process, maybe if I was 30 YO.

I do a LOT of DIY around the house though, my reasons are usually:

A) It's a small/medium job - too much hassle to find someone willing to do it.

B) Just because they are pros, doesn't mean they will do the job as good as me (this varies - some people I've hired have done excellent work, faster, better, maybe even cheaper than DIY).

C) It's something I kind of plan as I go - depending what I find as I tear out, how one thing matches with another, etc - so it's hard to spec it to someone, so they will need to quote big $ to cover themselves.

D) Save money.

E) Sometimes, it *is* something I wish to 'show off' , and take pride that I DIY.

F) I might take an 'unconventional' approach (not violating codes though), just not something your average contractor is going to do - not worth the risk for them.

G) If I DIY, I know how to fix it.

H) Sometimes, it's tough to justify NOT doing it yourself, like get away from the computer and do something!



Stuff I'm glad I've paid for:

Wood floor installed, sanded, stained, sealed.
Roof replaced.
Attic insulation blown in (need some more though in spots - will DIY that, I guess - dreading it though).
Snow plowing (long driveway).


Stuff I was (relatively) happy to DIY:

Install pre-finished wood flooring.
Replace some doors/trim w/Oak.
Tear/out/install tile floors (kinda tough work, but fairly low SWF (swear-word factor).
Install crown molding, baseboards.
Install kitchen/bath cabinets - big savings, pretty easy if you have basic carpentry skills.
Lawn cut, spray, fert (1 acre).
A few custom/creative projects (built a large teak table to match another smaller piece we bought).

Stuff I DIY that I really don't like - cheapskate factor here:

Painting...

Questionable:

Bathroom remodels - man, a LOT of work. Last one (and I mean LAST one) was a complete tear-out. Painful. But I imagine I saved some big bucks. The pain does fade in time....

-ERD50
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Old 06-25-2008, 11:03 AM   #19
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I'm more like Goonie, really. And despite having ovaries, I confess to stapling a wallpaper border up in a bathroom that wouldn't stay glued. So no more wallpaper for me!

We did major renovations to a 1936 beach house before selling it, including reroofing, sanding/repairing hardwood floors, removing walls, tiling big areas, installing sod and irrigation system plus a shallow well, etc.

For the new house, I was the general contractor, and subbed out the masonry, framing and roofing, as well as the rough plumbing, all HVAC and hanging/finishing of the drywall. Everything else was DH and I, including some hilarious hijinks on the electrical!

DH does all our automobile and RV maintenance and repairs, including an AC install on one of the cars and a roof AC unit on the RV. The only one he didn't do was replacing/bleed 28 feet of brake line on the RV!

True story: I quit dating a guy in High School after he told me he paid to have his oil changed. My handy father was very proud!
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Old 06-25-2008, 12:48 PM   #20
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of. Oh yeah, I also put a new cam in my old chevelle.
How much lift? Crane Fireball model??
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