Why DIY? We always “do it yourself!” We are DIYers when it comes to home renovation, car maintenance, cooking/food prep, crafts, and all yard work. For us, I can sum it up in three reasons:
- We save money.
- We apply meticulous craftsmanship.
- We are proud of the end product.
Saving Money (and making money)
One reason to do it yourself is to save money. In most circumstances, you can buy the supplies for a fraction of the cost of the end product and do it yourself. If you buy flour, eggs, baking soda and powder, sugar, vanilla, peanut butter, and chocolate chips, you can bake DOZENS of peanut butter chocolate chip cookies that costs pennies each. When you buy a fresh baked peanut butter chocolate chip cookie at the cookie place at the mall, it costs $2 for one cookie.
If you make a DIY birthday cake at home, it may cost you $3 including candles. If you buy a birthday cake from the grocery store, it’ll cost $15 – $20 or more. An oil and filter change for the car in Hawaii costs us $80, but the supplies to do it at home costs about $25. A gourmet thick, juicy hamburger with avocado and bacon and cheddar with fries costs about $15 at Teddy’s Bigger Burgers (delicious), so that’s $75-ish if the five of us eat there. For $75, I can buy groceries for 3 – 5 really special meals for the 5 of us – including one of gourmet hamburgers, and THAT’s a huge savings. Cooking and food prep is the simplest, least expensive place to do it yourself, and it has the biggest return on investment over time. I also make laundry detergent, and that has paid off here in Hawaii.
Our big DIY passion is our home. Monty and I have always had “champagne tastes on a beer budget” when it comes to our home. Do It Yourself projects allow us to have things we otherwise couldn’t affortd. Until we bought in Hawaii, we’ve always lived in the best neighborhoods with the best schools. If our home wasn’t top-of-the-line when we bought it, it was when we sold it. That’s how we live.
The picture above shows our current DIY tile project in our bathroom. We’ll replace a plastic tub/shower with beautiful tile surround and glass doors, replace the toilet, replace the contractor-grade vanity and counter with a beautiful piece, and repaint the walls. Our new bathroom will end up costing between $1,500 and $2K in materials. Paying to have that work done would’ve cost at least $10K here in Hawaii. When we’re ready to sell this house, it will have tile and hardwoods throughout, 2.5 completely new bathrooms, and new kitchen appliances. Total cost to us will be around $10K. We are sure it will improve the resale value of this house by about $50K and set it apart from other homes in the neighborhood. We’ve had quite an adventure with this renovation (as we always do), but it is worth it to us.
Monty and I renovated our first home. It was the ugliest dump on the street in one of the best neighborhoods in Birmingham, Alabama. We put in about $15K and two years of work, and we almost doubled the value of that home. We built our next home from the ground up, mortgaging about $108K when finished. We sold for almost $300K nine years later. So, we knew when we bought this house with its original contractor-grade bathrooms, carpet, and vinyl (but really nice cabinets), we would be doing a lot of work.
Applying Meticulous Craftsmanship
In our experience, most contractors do shoddy work with crappy materials to finish quickly and increase the bottom line profit on each job. Contractors usually have no consideration for our time, arriving late or missing appointments altogether. Contractors charge a premium, too! So, we DIY.
When we set out to complete a project, we carefully plan, buy supplies (only the best quality materials), and use best-practices for whatever we’re doing. We work at our own pace, and – although it always takes longer than we plan – the project is VERY well done!
Proud of the Final Product
Our homes have all provided us with wonderful stories to tell our guests. For example, Monty bought a huge pile of brick pavers (thin brick tiles) from an old home improvement store for our first home. The pile had obviously been there for years, caked with dirt, and had weeds growing in the pile, so he got a great deal on them! During the chilly Thanksgiving holidays, we started the project. I sat on the front porch next to the pile of pavers with a bucket of water and a scrub brush, and Monty prepped the floor. As I scrubbed all that debris off each tile, he would lay the tile in a herringbone pattern in our den. We finished before the holiday was over, and that room was gorgeous! That incredibly unique floor cost around $100 and TONS of sweat equity to complete, and it was a focal point of the house. We had enough pavers to cover the ugly cement porch on the front of the house, too. BEAUTIFUL!
We have lots of home stories, but there are smaller projects, too. I designed and created a butterfly garden in the front yard of our home when the children were babies. We could sit on the front porch and watch butterflies, hummingbirds, and finches enjoying the flowers and shrubs for hours. I set up raised garden beds and grew vegetables in the back yard. I learned to grow plants from cuttings, and created a beautiful row of crape myrtles around our deck area from my grandmother’s one old crape myrtle in her yard.
I’ve made quilt after quilt for the children and for gifts. Here in Hawaii, I began making tote bags from quilted denim scraps. Sewing is a great way to DIY.
Furniture is an area for DIY, too. Many pieces of good wooden furniture only need some cleaning and paint to make them nice enough to enjoy for years! I bought two bookshelves with cabinet doors in the bottom for $5 each at a yard sale in 2012. I painted them with a driftwood looking technique, and they are still functioning well in 2017.
How do you start doing things yourself?
- Start small. Try a small, quick project first.
- Watch videos online of other people doing that kind of project.
- Get coaching from an experienced DIYer. You could even be a helper for that DIYer in their next project to see how they do it.
- Just begin! Try something. You’ll be surprised at what you can accomplish!