A new front door has the highest ROI, not to mention the boost in curb appeal.
You're going to save money with DIY home improvement projects. Sure, everybody knows that.
But did you know how much? Cut professionals out of the equation and you can save half the cost of a project -- or more.
What's more, you get a great return on your investment. Meaning, the financial value you get out of a DIY project is much more than what you put in.
Here's a rundown of some top money-saving projects, using cost and recovered costs data from the “Remodeling Impact Report” from the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®.
Few replacement projects have as much upside as a new steel entry door. Not only will you recover about 75% of the cost of having an entry door professionally installed, but you’ll spruce up your curb appeal big time. Want proof? Ninety-six percent of homeowners responding to the “Remodeling Impact Report” say they are happy or satisfied with their new front door.
Of course, you’ll save even more if you tackle this project yourself. Know your door parts (jambs, threshold, stops) before digging in. You'll be putting in a pre-hung door that includes jambs, so the old stuff has to come out. If you can, preserve the old casing (trim) that goes around the door. Otherwise, plan to buy new casing.
If You Hire If You DIY Cost $2,000Cost $250Recoup at sale $1,500 Recoup at sale $1,500% recoup 75% recoup 600%
This is a good one to have a friend or spouse lend a hand. It'll take six to eight hours if it's your first time. Remember the three-legged mantra of door installation: Plumb, level, square.
Tired of looking at that big blank billboard every time you pull into your driveway? Change out your old garage door for a spiffy new steel model and the whole neighborhood will thank you. Save some cash by keeping the same motorized opener.
If You Hire If You DIY Cost $2,300 Cost $850 Recoup at sale $2,000 Recoup at sale $2,000% recoup 87%% recoup 235%
A steel garage door comes in four panels that are relatively lightweight but awkward -- get a friend to lend a hand and you'll have this project done in a day. Then stand back and admire along with 95% of homeowners in the “Remodeling Impact Report” who said they were happy or satisfied with their new garage door.
If you want to replace four or more windows, or a second-story window, then hire the work out. Being up on a ladder with an object as bulky as a window is no place for a non-professional. Pros bring scaffolding, which takes time to set up but ultimately makes the work faster and safer.
Replacing one, two, or maybe three first-story windows is a good DIY job. Anything more and the pros will get the job done with better efficiency in terms of time and hassle.
If You Hire If You DIY Cost (per window) $556Cost (per window) $250 Recoup at sale $444Recoup at sale $444% recoup 80%% recoup 178%
If you've measured your rough opening correctly and bought the right window, then one window should take you three to four hours. You'll get faster with subsequent windows.
Few projects are as satisfying, while recovering such a high percentage of your investment, as new wood flooring. According to the “Remodeling Impact Report,” 96% of homeowners were happy or satisfied with their professionally installed hardwood floors. Combine that with a 91% return on your investment, and you’ll likely be a very happy homeowner.
For the DIYer, installing hardwood flooring is a bit labor intensive, but the techniques are fairly easy to master. Once you get the hang of it, installing prefinished hardwood flooring should go smoothly.
If You Hire If You DIY Cost$5,500 Cost$1,770 Recoup at sale $5,000 Recoup at sale $5,000% recoup 91%% recoup 282%
Upgrading an under-insulated attic space can save you up to 50% per year in energy costs. With a pro cost of $2,100, it’ll take at least a couple of years to pay off your investment with savings. Do it yourself, however, and you’ll only spend about $700 for enough 10-inch-thick fiberglass batt insulation to cover a 20-foot-by-40-foot attic space. You’ll pocket the savings much sooner.
It’s also an awkward project, it can be messy, and you’ll need to bundle up behind protective clothing. However, insulating your attic is a low-skill project that most DIYers can pull off. Just be sure not to stick your foot through the drywall under the attic floor joists!
If You Hire If You DIY Cost $2,100Cost $700Recoup at sale $1,600 Recoup at sale $1,600% recoup 76%% recoup 229%
John Rihahas written seven books on home improvement and hundreds of articles on home-related topics. He’s been a residential builder, the editorial director of the Black & Decker Home Improvement Library, and the executive editor of Better Homes and Gardens magazine. Follow John on Google+.
Image: Heather Chang Photography/Getty