How Much Homeowners Spend on Remodeling, Depending on Who Does the Work

The idea of making home improvements is an enticing one, allowing you to transform your dreams into a concrete reality in an achievable timeframe. However, the costs involved need to be carefully considered to ensure you can afford to complete your project as planned. Some homeowners have the time and skills to DIY their renovations, some leave it to the professionals and others manage a balance of the two.

In this graphic, we look at the full spectrum of completion methods depending on project type, to help you decide which is best for your next project.

We compiled this graphic using data from the Home Improvement Research Institute(HIRI), on trends in professional and DIY home improvement. The graph shows the average spend on 19 different projects, depending on if the homeowner chose to do it DIY, BIY and hired pro. (homeowner buys some or all of the materials but all work is completed by a contractor), all work by contractors or a combination of contractors and DIY. The study was based on responses by 3,575 homeowners and was conducted in 2018.

Looking at the costs per project, per completion method.

Of the jobs undertaken in the study, the average spend on DIY projects was lowest at $979, BIY and hired pro came second with an average of $5,165, a combination of contractor and DIY averaged third highest at $5,744, and projects completed by the contractor entirely had the highest average cost of $8,454.

DIY was the cheapest option across all jobs listed, save three (add a room, replace a roof and repair plumbing). Also, all DIY projects cost less than $5,000 apart from replacing a roof, replacing a room and adding a bathroom. The cheapest DIY project was painting an interior room or area at $235. The most expensive DIY project was adding a room at $8,892.

BIY and hired pro was the cheapest option in three instances only: adding a room ($7,605), replacing a roof ($4,320) and repairing plumbing($300). The most expensive BIY and hired pro project was the addition of a bathroom, at $18,243, which was still only second to completing the work with a contractor entirely which cost $31,955. This suggests significant savings were possible by buying the materials yourself.

Getting a contractor to complete the entire job was the most expensive option apart from when painting the exterior of the home ($4,060) when BIY/hired pro was $4,797, Replacing or refinishing the floors ($4,601) when DIY and pro together came in at $7,000 and remodeling the basement ($11,706) when DIY and pro together again were more costly at $12,135. Getting a contractor to complete the job was never the cheapest option.

Doing the work with a combination of professionals and DIY was also never the cheapest option, and was the most expensive option in two instances: remodeling the basement and refinishing the floor, as seen above.

Understanding the Costs Associated with Each Completion Method

While it may seem easy to decide on a completion method based on the costs above, it is important to consider the other factors as well. For instance, DIY may be the cheapest because homeowners don’t take the cost of their time into consideration.

Also, for more complex jobs the cost of the skills of the professional could make the job more cost-effective, thanks to time saved. For instance, when replacing a roof or adding a room, structural and technical factors need to be considered that may fall outside of the skills of an average homeowner.

When looking at the cost of plumbing, the reason that DIY ends up being more expensive can be due to several factors. Special tools may need to be purchased, and materials that are easy to use for homeowners who lack plumbing skills can be significantly more money than those used by plumbers. There’s often a lot of waste involved in with DIY in special skills such as plumbing, due to the many attempts it may take an unskilled homeowner to complete the job. This makes some types of home repair more cost effective to hire out.

When considering Buying It Yourself and getting a contractor to carry out the work, the type of project needs to be considered. If materials are the main expense, it may be possible to find bargains when buying them yourself, then taking advantage of the skills of the contractor to carry out the work, saving you money, time and effort and providing peace of mind with quality workmanship.

It’s important to note when looking at the chart, that while BIY can be a less expensive option in some cases, it isn’t always an option. Some Pros may not work with materials they don’t source themselves. This can be due to the uncertainty of the quality of the material, or due to the unfamiliarity of the material on the part of the Pro.

Getting a contractor to complete the work entirely is generally the most expensive option. However, when the work is complex and the materials are specialized, this can be the best option. Also, getting a professional to do the whole job means the homeowner spends less time and effort on the job than any other option. Contractors also often guarantee their work providing recourse should any issues arise.

The last option is to get the pro’s in to carry out the more challenging parts of a project, then complete the more straight forward aspects yourself. This works best with jobs such as remodeling a bathroom. Having a professional carry out the plumbing and electrical work could save time and money, however, the more simple aspects like painting the room, can more easily and cost-effectively be carried out as DIY work.

Which work style is best for your remodeling project?

Deciding on a work style depends largely on your own personal circumstances. However, you need to answer some questions to decide which work style is best. Do you have the time and knowledge to complete the project DIY? Is the job too dangerous for you, or your home for you to carry out yourself, or does it require a permit? What costs the most in the project breakdown (labor, materials, skills, etc.)?

Once you’ve answered these questions, deciding may become a bit easier, though the correct option may not have initially seemed to be the best option. While some jobs should always be left to the pros, of all jobs completed, those done as DIY gave homeowners the most satisfaction.

It’s also important to remember that there are always going to be variations and factors that can make one method more or less expensive in your particular case. Always do your own research into costs before you undertake a project in order to get the most accurate expenses for each job.