Benefits of DIY
Saving Money isn’t always about actually socking the money away in a savings account or investments. Often, it’s about just not spending money that you’ve earned!
You know. A penny saved is a penny earned.
I didn’t actually amass and set aside $27k last week (I wish!). But I did save it all the same. Let me tell you how!
We bought our beautiful home six years ago. One of the main reasons we fell in love with it was all the giant shade trees in the yard and lining the driveway.
As a farmer (sort of — I mean that’s what you call a person who owns and runs a farmer, right? Even if said farm is more of a money pit than a farm) I should have known that the huge shade trees were Cottonwoods, a particularly short-lived and messy type of poplar considered to be an arboreal weed.
Now I know.
Over the last six years all eighteen of those massive trees have died. Yep, I had eighteen dead monster trees in my yard.
If you’re not familiar with Cottonwood trees, let me fill you in. They are messy! Every slight breeze would leave branches and limbs scattered from here to kingdom come. And every spring they ‘blossom’, which is a nice way of saying they produce cotton (really just weed seeds that look like cotton) that blow all over tarnation and coat the lawn and yard.
Besides the mess, they are downright dangerous as they become brittle and easily breakable with age. These things are likely to fall on and crush your house! They really should never be used residentially.
The one thing Cottonwood trees have going for them is that they grow super fast. Ours were probably about 20 years old, since that’s how old our house is, and they were already 80′ tall behemoths.
Now that you know more than you ever wanted to about Cottonwood trees, let me tell you have we saved $27k dollars last week!
In a nutshell, the tree removal service we called for an estimate wanted $1500 per tree to remove them. They bring in a cherry-picker and fancy equipment and several guys, remove the trees in a matter of days, and leave you with a clean, blank slate.
It wasn’t nearly that easy for us! I don’t imagine you want to know exactly HOW hard it was for us, or that we almost died (just kidding) cutting these trees down. Suffice it to say — it was not an easy week. And to be honest, we’re not done yet. There is still a mess of logs and stumps and we’re going to have to rent a chipper to make mulch out of the branches. (Yay! Free mulch!)
But look at those savings!
Last year we re-roofed our own home to the tune of $25k in savings (that’s after purchasing supplies). When the irrigation system broke we tore it out and replaced it ourselves, saving about $10k. We’ve completely remodeled our last three homes and saved probably hundreds of thousands of dollars by taking care of the labor ourselves.
Not to mention the numerous little repairs and improvements we make ourselves, like replacing the motor in the dryer or replacing the garage door openers or fixing a leaky faucet patching up the inevitable drywall damage from kids. We just save a few hundred here and there on those little things, but it adds up.
That’s the beauty of DIY, friends!
Besides the obvious monetary savings, there are innumerable other benefits of DIY.
10 More Benefits of DIY
1. DIY is a great way to build family relationships!
As a kid, my family did a lot of DIY. My dad is the ultimate handyman. He does everything from building fine furniture from the best hardwoods to plumbing and electrical. He actually built the house I grew up in with his own two hands.
That naturally extended to the family, because dad needed help keeping up with the gardening, building the treehouse, installing light fixtures, canning produce and programming the computer. We kids were willing helpers.
When we get together now as adults, we always spend time laughing and reminiscing. Inevitably, the funniest and favorite memories are of family work projects, and not of Disneyland or other vacations.
Working together as a family is so valuable to me that it’s the primary reason we bought our farm. We knew it would be less than profitable and neither the hubs nor I really aspired to being farmers. What we wanted was for our kids to have the opportunity to build chicken coops, bottle-feed baby animals, install fencing, and repair machinery — all while talking and laughing together.
The work itself is valuable. The skills learned are valuable. But the most valuable gain of all is the relationships that are built.
Do your children share their secret worries and fears at the movies? Or sporting events? Do your children divulge their deepest desires over a good game of bowling? Those kinds of conversations require the kind of time and atmosphere provided by a good DIY project, where hands are occupied but minds and hearts are free to connect and share.
2. Learning new skills is one of the benefits of DIY.
The more DIY projects you undertake, the better you understand how things work. I’m always up for a project, but I did feel a little intimidated by our first big DIY project when we bought our first home, straight out of college.
We wanted to finish a couple of rooms in our already wired, plumbed and framed basement. I’d helped hang drywall before, but I didn’t know what came before and after that.
That first drywall experience was dang hard. I think I probably mudded and sanded those walls 15 times and I could still see the tape lines, so I lightly textured the walls. My second experience with drywall was in our second house, and it was much easier, plus the results were better.
It’s just gotten easier and better as my skills have grown. I’m so good at it now that I think nothing of patching up holes and dents my kids make, and you can’t even tell where I’ve patched.
I don’t exactly love drywall or electric or hvac or most of the skills I’ve learned as we’ve completed DIY projects. But I sure love not feeling intimidated by them!
I love that I either know how the appliance works already or that I know where to find the information. I never have to freak out when the water intake behind the fridge starts leaking, because I can fix it in a few minutes with tools I already have in my garage.
3. There are health benefits of DIY.
We spent last week carting logs to our wood pile, branches to the chipper pile, and sweeping up debris. I mean the whole week! And we’re not even done.
I didn’t wear a fitbit or anything, but I’m certain that I more than quadrupled the number of steps I normally have to conscientiously work into my day.
Hefting those logs rivaled the best strength training workouts, I’m sure. We worked out muscles we didn’t even know we had. We also breathed fresh, clean air and filled our bodies with vitamin D from the sunshine.
4. There are mental benefits to DIY.
It’s impossible not to benefit mentally from DIY projects, and I’m not merely talking about picking up new skills. Learning new skills is great, but I’m talking about the kind of mental stimulation that goes into visualizing a project, planning it and bringing it to fruition. I’m also talking about the mental strength you get from doing a really hard thing, persevering through difficulties, and seeing it through to completion.
That kind of mental toughness is extremely valuable. Your idea for your project is just the beginning. You have to turn that idea into a plan, then turn that plan into a materials list.
You’ll run into snags and have to troubleshoot. When we built our first barn, we didn’t realize we would need cross bracing against the wind. I looked out the window one morning to see all of our walls and trusses listing precariously in the direction of the wind, and we had to run out and hurry and bring everything back to plumb and nail up cross braces.
All of that mental exercise actually makes you smarter in that it makes you better at learning. It makes you more confident in your ability to learn, which is half the battle.
5. Who cares more about your home than you do?
When my oldest son was little, he was helping me plant corn. His friend called over the fence, wanting to play.
I told him he could play once the corn was planted. He finished surprisingly quickly.
About a week later, the corn seedlings emerged, at least a hundred of them, from a single spot about 6″ in diameter. I like for my kids to have natural, relevant consequences, so my son transplanted all of those seedlings into the rows I had originally prepared for the corn.
My son didn’t give a hang about the garden. There is always food on the table, he doesn’t care where it comes from. The garden was my thing.
We’ve hired contractors here and there for various jobs over the years, and while they’re quite competent, they rarely do the job like I would. Because this house is mine and I will have to deal with the fallout years down the road, I make darn sure that things are done right.
I know my kids, so when I remodeled their bathroom last year, I used the orange kerdi waterproofing membrane and even wrapped it up the walls behind the baseboards so it could practically be a swimming pool without damaging any of the actual house structure. That’s because when I ripped out that bathroom, I had to sister up rotten floor joists and replace OSB and framing in adjoining rooms due to previous water damage.
A contractor would have rolled his eyes at my request and then charged me double. But it cost me nothing extra and provides me with plenty of peace of mind. When you DIY projects, you get to customize them and build them exactly to your own specifications.
6. Successful DIY projects build confidence.
I was wiring up some outlets when we finished our basement a couple of years ago. My five-year-old wanted to help, and the power was off to the whole basement, so I showed her how then handed her a screwdriver and let her try one by herself. She did a great job, so I let her help me install outlets and switches, and I also taught her about electrical circuits while we worked.
Later that week, my dad came over and helped me remove part of a load-bearing wall. I was nervous about doing it by myself, so I had asked for help. After removing some 2×4’s, we needed to move switches and splice some wires.
I yelled to my five-year-old to bring her screwdriver — that I had a job for her. My dad laughed and laughed that she came running and jumped in to work. She wondered why he was laughing — she knew exactly what she was doing!
I feel the same way. I might feel irritated that I have to repair something, but I don’t panic. I know what needs to be done, and I set aside the time and take care of it.
Even when I don’t know how to fix something, I know I can find tutorials on YouTube, and I have the confidence to at least make the attempt. Having confidence in my skills is one of the biggest benefits of DIY.
7. DIY brings peace of mind.
Have you noticed that the more you know the less you fear? (Except when it comes to snakes, eeeeek!)
I didn’t feel at all afraid when we bought our first house, but I had friends who were terrified. First, they were afraid of having to maintain the home or make repairs. Second, they were afraid of the mortgage and the financial responsibility.
I know a lot of people rent (and often throw their money away — though I do realize there are legit reasons to rent) just because they’d rather not deal with maintenance and repairs. They feel intimidated and fearful.
The antidote to fear is knowledge. Once you’ve fixed the things in your home, you understand how they work and you no longer fear owning them or maintaining or repairing them. You have peace of mind.
8. You could turn it into a lucrative side hustle.
A side hustle is a great way to diversify your income a little. Instead of relying solely on your salary from your job and having nightmares about layoffs during economic downturns, create multiple income streams.
Hiring yourself out as a handyman isn’t the only way to turn DIY skills into a side hustle. You could blog about your DIY projects or publish how-to videos on YouTube. You could sell your handmade products. You could sell patterns or plans for your DIY projects. Or you could consult as an expert. There are many ways to actually make your DIY hobby marketable.
9. You can bless other lives.
As a DIYer, my dad has blessed countless lives. He’s helped friends to finish their basements and make home improvements ever since I can remember. He’s also passed his DIY gene onto most of his kids and is currently imparting his DIY skills to his grandchildren.
We have friends who used to go to Mexico every year to build homes for single moms. They’d all pitch in to fill a semi trailer with building supplies, then they’d drive to Mexico as a group and spend the Christmas holidays building a couple of small, simple homes for women who simply never could have afforded them otherwise.
There are organizations like Habitat for Humanity and Peace Corps and Rising Star Outreach that organize people who want to contribute their DIY skills to make the world a better place. If you have the time to become a regular volunteer, just think of all the could you could do!
10. Let’s talk more about the financial benefits of DIY.
We already talked about the thousands I saved last week by removing our own trees instead of hiring a tree removal service. It’s pretty obvious that doing your own landscaping and home renovations can save you pretty big bucks. But what about the less obvious financial benefits of DIY?
DIY projects can add equity to your home, though you have to be careful about over-improving. Kitchen and master bath upgrades have been proven to add the most value to a home, along with the addition of square feet. You just have to keep in mind the value of surrounding homes and not go overboard.
Regular maintenance, in addition to maintaining the value of your home, can actually save you money on utilities. New windows and insulation can save on heating and cooling costs. A low-flow showerhead and a grey water system will save water.
The reverse is also true. If you don’t keep your rain gutters clean and in good repair, you could end up fixing expensive foundation damage. If you neglect to fix a constantly-running toilet, you could end up dealing with a flood.
What’s that quote? “A stitch in time saves nine”. It’s really true!
Another financial benefit of DIY is that people see you as capable, resourceful and hard-working, which can lead to financial opportunities. The hubs was competing with lots of highly qualified engineers when vying for the job he has now.
His boss told him that the reason he was chosen was that he maintains his own vehicles and DIY’s home renovation projects. They were looking for a problem solver with initiative and figured that those traits would be found in a DIYer.
The Many Benefits of DIY
I hope I’ve inspired you to give DIY a try if you haven’t already fallen in love with it. I can promise you that when you finish a project and stand back and look at what you’ve created, you will feel immense satisfaction.
And it’s not something you’ll feel just once. You’ll feel it every time you walk by it or use it. There’s nothing quite like that sense of accomplishment.
My kids have said to me over and over about various bits of our house, “I helped build this.” It honestly seems like they value our home more and treat it better for having had a hand in the remodeling and repairs.
I’ll bet that twenty or thirty years from now my own children will enjoy reminiscing and laughing with each other. And I’ll bet that they won’t be laughing over our travels as much as they will about our DIY work projects.
I’d love to hear about your DIY success stories and how much money you’ve saved yourself. Please share in the comments below!
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