I am certain this will not be my last post about DIY house projects, but I read a post today on one of my favorite sites, Daily Worth, that sparked my interest. The post discussed projects I haven’t (and probably wouldn’t )attempted such as making your own laundry detergent. Sometimes it is hard to tell if doing things yourself really saves you money, if you account for the time and effort spent.
I struggle with this question a lot. Our house is a cookie-cutter suburban tract home. Complete with the postage stamp lot and high homeowners’ fees. The kind of house I naively said (pre-kids) I would never buy. But it has good schools and parks and our friends live nearby. So here we are. The house was built in 2003 and the previous owner was a single woman. She had occasional roommates (which explains the scuffed up baseboards), but living alone makes it hard to keep up on home maintenance. She did some landscaping, then never tended to the plants or grass again. She painted two bathrooms in very odd colors, then presumably decided painting was too much work and left the rest of the walls in the house the icky builder’s white color. She paid to have the floors upgraded and the appliances are nice stainless steel, but she elected for the cheap-looking light maple kitchen cabinets. So there was work to be done when we moved in.
The problem arose when I realized how much simple things like painting cost. $600 to paint one room? $2,500 to paint the kitchen cabinets? I could buy a gallon of Benjamin Moore “Ben” paint for $38 at Ace Hardware. Throw in some brushes and other materials and I am still saving a ton of money if I do it myself. So I did. I painted all three bedrooms one weekend. I painted one bathroom per night the following week. And then I was tired. I was staying up late painting like a crazy person. I do my projects when my kids are in bed, so starting at 7:30 p.m. makes it pretty easy for the clock to hit midnight before I’m done. And waking up at 5:00 a.m. for work, it wasn’t enough sleep. So I took a break. And said I would hire someone to do the rest of it. Then a few months later I did the loft, hallway and bathroom cabinets, saying I would pay someone to do the kitchen cabinets and downstairs. Then I did pay someone, but that was to install new carpet upstairs, not to paint. After this I really wanted the kitchen/dining/family room done. I didn’t have the money to do it right then, and I am not patient. So back I went to Ace Hardware and Home Depot. It took about a month between the cabinets and the walls. It drove my husband crazy. But I saved around $3,000.
In the 22 months we’ve lived in our house, I’ve repainted all 1,700 square feet. Plus some ceilings and trim; bathroom, hall and kitchen cabinets. It took a while, but didn’t take time away from my kids. It took time away from relaxing at night with my husband, but he forgave me. It looks like a whole new house. I am happy I took the time to do it, rather than waiting a year or putting it on a credit card. That being said, I am not painting again for a while. Or at least until I decide how to decorate Avery’s toddler room. I’m thinking purple instead of pink…