Thinking of Making Home Improvements? Should You DIY or DIFM? What’s The Better ROI?

Your Home is Your Castle

Your Home is Your Castle


Your home is the largest investment you are likely to make in your life.  Almost everyone
wants to keep improving their homes because they want to keep this investment improving and hopefully appreciating in value.  So the big question becomes should you DIY or DIFM your improvements?  In case you don’t know what that means it’s Do It Yourself or Do It For Me and have it done.  Will you see a better ROI doing it one way or the other?

If you are handy, by all means consider doing it yourself, unless it’s a big job.  Here’s my list of easy DIY’s that can save you money and give you some satisfaction on a job well done.

  • Painting.  Almost immediate satisfaction and it saves a lot of money.  But it’s easier to do inside than outside, especially with a two story house.  If you have high, high ceilings in a room you might want to call in a professional.
  • Simple electrical such as replacing a light fixture.  Just remember to flick the circuit breaker while doing this.
  • Installing appliances.  Dishwashers, washers and dryers are easy to do.  It’s a little more difficult if you want to install a microwave/fan unit. For that installation, you will need a helping hand.
  • Stripping off old wall paper.  This is very easy to do with the large assortment of products available to help.
  • New lawns.  The prep work for a law takes some time and effort but once it’s done either roll out the sod for instant gratification, or sprinkle the seed and keep watering.
  • Replacing screens in your windows. Measure the old screen, if still there, and order new ones to fit the windows. Don’t forget to replace torn sliding screens while you’re at it.
  • Simple plumbing.  It’s not hard to replace your old faucet, parts inside the toilet or the shower head.
  • Kitchen cabinets.  It’s really not rocket science to redo a kitchen if you measure well, order cabinets accordingly and have several pairs of hands to help you. Otherwise, consider painting your current cabinets and putting new knobs and pulls on them.


Use a contractor for larger jobs if you are short of time or don’t like DIY work.  Ask for referrals for tradesmen you want to use.  Your friends and your Realtor are always good resources.  We have a link to our referrals on the right. 

The DIFM list of jobs can be anything you don’t want to do, or can’t.

  • Patios, spas and pools are generally DIFM projects.
  • Home additions. The entire process from start to finish requires an expert maneuvering through your Planning Department in almost every city around.  Licenses for the job require time and patience, too. If you tackle this without permits it can cause problems when you want to sell you home, so reconsider this.
  • Roofing.  This is dangerous work for a DIY.
  • Fences.  Not a hard job if you have help from the adjoining neighbor, but that often easier said than done.
  • Kitchens.  See above. If it’s too much for you, have it done either replace those cabinets or reface them.
  • Counters.  Sure you can do tile yourself but it always looks like a DIY project.  You need professionals to install granite or laminate counters.  I also recommend having a good tiler do your tile.

Whatever jobs you do take on, take care to do them well.  If you are trying to save money by DIY consider what your time is worth, the cost of the product you are using and the look of the finished job.  Would you want to buy a home totally redone by a DIYer?  Would you want to reduce the offer price because it was?  Keep your eyes open to see what your neighbors have done to improve their homes and how they have done it.  Will any of you see a ROI for this?  After all, isn’t this what it’s ultimately about?  It sure is.  Learn how to do the simple stuff.  Home Depot offers free classes every weekend on how to do all kinds of things.  Take them.  You’ll gradually build up your skill set on home
maintenance.  Then you’ll see an ROI but it will be in your budget.

Make sure that any professional you consider hiring is bonded, has Workers Compensation Insurance for their employees, and will give you references.  Check them, too. There are too many horror stories out there about unlicensed contractors to ignore.  Take time to check those references and you will never be sorry.

Moving? Know the value of your home …