How much could you save by taking on an interior home repair project?

Winter DIY Home Repair Projects

by Gary Foreman


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It's the middle of winter. You've been cooped up inside for months and it's getting really old. But, unless you're into snowmobiling, skiing or ice fishing, you'll probably spend at least the next six weeks indoors. That gives you a choice. You can sit around binge watching TV or you can take on an interior home improvement project.

You'd be surprised how much you can save taking on a home repair or home improvement project. Many jobs are relatively easy and only require tools found in most garages or workshops.

With any home repair project, the usual precautions are in order. Safety should always be your first concern. You don't want to spend the money you'll save in an ER visit. Second, know your limitations. Some jobs aren't that complicated and most DIYers can attempt them without a problem. But some (like running new electrical circuits) can be dangerous if you don't know what you're doing. You should also be aware of what jobs require a permit from your local authorities.

So how much could you save by doing-it-yourself? Let's consider some common home repair/improvement projects and see.

Suppose your house has that 'lived in' look. Kids and furniture have dinged a wall or two. You could hire a drywall expert to do some patching. Let's assume that he'd need about three hours to do a few simple repairs. You'd expect to spend between $200 and $300 for his labor.


On the other hand, you could attempt them yourself. Most minor repairs can befixed with drywall compound that you can find at any hardware store or home center. Even if you need to buy some seam tape, a joint knife and a sanding sponge, you'll come in at less than $30.

Another common DIY challenge is home plumbing. Maybe it's time to think about that drain in the downstairs sink that drips just a little. You could call in a plumber. For simple repairs like your leak, you'll pay between $45 and $65 per hour plus parts. In this case, it'll probably take an hour or two. For more complicated repairs, expect your plumber to want $100 for the house call and $75 per hour after that.

Or you could take on the leak yourself. Recognize that most plumbing home repairs take at least two trips to the hardware store. But if it's a simple repair like a drain leak, you'll save $50 by making those two trips.

Related: How to Determine If Your Project is a DIY Job

What about carpentry projects? Those projects vary from the very simple (like replacing trim around a door) to the complex like replacing a door or window. Naturally what you'd expect to pay a professional carpenter will depend on the job.

Most home repairs can be handled by a general carpenter who earns between $20 and $30 per hour. However, if your home has custom work or detailing that needs repair, you'll want a finish carpenter. Their rates vary based on the type of skill required, but typically start at $35 per hour and go up from there.

But maybe you don't need a pro. Simple tasks like replacing door trim can be done by the average do-it-yourselfer. You might need to buy or borrow a specific saw or hammer, but the cost is minimal. More complicated tasks like replacing a door or window including frame will require an experienced DIYer or a professional.

For all of your home improvement projects, shop at Homedepot.com!

Like carpentry, electrical work can be very simple or very complex. Replacing an electrical outlet or switch is a job that most homeowners can handle. In most cases, all you need is a pair of pliers and a screw driver. The savings can be big. A professional electrician charges between $40 and $100 per hour depending on the work involved.

But some jobs shouldn't be attempted by a novice DIYer. If you need to run a new circuit to that home office you've been setting up, you probably should call in a pro. Failing to run it properly could cause death or a house fire.

As a general rule, most construction professionals expect to make between $200 and $300 per day. If they need a helper, add another $15 to $20 per hour for them. You can always get rates by calling around locally or checking home repair websites.

Should I use a HELOC for home remodeling and repairs?

While you're on the web, watch a few videos showing the repair you're planning. Almost any repair you can think of has a DIY video or two showing how it's done.

Don't forget that there's another option besides doing it yourself or hiring a professional. You may be able to find a retired professional or neighbor who would be willing to help you through any rough spots. Typically, they'll ask for much less than a full-time professional. You'll learn something and save money at the same time.

So what home project will you take on this winter?


Gary Foreman

Gary Foreman is a former financial planner and purchasing manager who founded The Dollar Stretcher.com website and newsletters in 1996. He's been featured in MSN Money, Yahoo Finance, Fox Business, The Nightly Business Report, US News Money, Credit.com and CreditCards.com. Gary shares his philosophy of money here. You can follow Gary on Twitter. Gary is also available for audio, video or print interviews. For more info see his media page.

Take the Next Step:

  • Decide on a project and begin the research to determine whether it's a DIY project that you can take on.
  • Do you need to finance your home repair projects? See if a HELOC is a smart option for financing this project.
  • Not sure where to start? Choose from one of the many repair and remodel project ideas in the Dollar Stretcher Library.
  • Join those who 'live better...for less' - Subscribe to The Dollar Stretcher newsletter, a weekly look at how to stretch both your day and your dollar! Subscribers get a copy of our ebook Little Luxuries: 130 Ways to Live Better...For Less for FREE!

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