Do-it-yourselfers regularly dive headlong into projects that would send others running for a professional contractor. DIYers are naturally frugal, opting to save on labor costs for home maintenance tasks they can do themselves. However, while they focus on a broad goal—such as remodeling a kitchen or constructing a new deck—they may overlook the significant savings that they could realize by establishing a systematic schedule of routine property maintenance.
Frugal homeowners realize substantial savings on exterior painting or staining by performing this labor-intensive task. A schedule that will complete one section of the dwelling at a time will make the job easier—power wash the surface, scrape loose paint and prime where needed before applying the final color. Purchase the total quantity of paint or stain and complete the work within three to reduce any noticeable differences in color due to weathering of the painted surfaces or changes in manufacturers’ paint formulations. Create a separate schedule for work on accessories such as doors, trim and shutters. A good quality trim paint, properly applied, could last up to 10 years.
DIYers can save considerable dollars on the cost of replacement windows by scheduling preventive maintenance. An annual inspection will reveal potential problems and provide an opportunity to repair any damage, such as crumbling putty around window panes and deteriorated caulking around window frames that could lead to air and water leaks. Replace torn screening before insects or small animals discover an opportune entry. The exterior window frame and sill should be inspected for decaying wood, which must be removed and replaced. Small areas may be cleaned out and filled with an appropriate bonding product available at hardware stores. A final coat of quality paint or stain will protect the repair work.
Ignoring shrubbery until it has grown too large for its space is not cost effective. DIYers can easily prune and trim shrubs, replace mulch to keep weeds down and patch lawn damaged by insects or drought. Frequent attention keeps landscape problems from growing out of control and is more economical than having to purchase new plants and materials for an entire area. Perennials are a blessing to frugal homeowners who will spend the time to divide them every three years or so, creating new plants for free. Herbs like oregano, thyme and mint are a perfect choice for thrifty gardeners; these function as ground cover as well as culinary favorites.
Bathroom and kitchen
The frugal DIYer takes action to maintain the integrity of a bathtub or shower stall long before the tile grout crumbles, letting water seep behind the tile and create a soggy mess that necessitates tiling a new shower stall. Wash the area and rinse thoroughly with a cleaner designed to remove mold, mildew and mineral deposits; scrape out the old grout and caulking and replace it for a tight waterproof seal.
Climate and energy control
Money-saving projects that will impress a frugal DIYer are those that continue to reap rewards after the work is finished. Installing extra attic insulation, replacing electrical wall switches with dimmer switches, and insulating basement duct work and water pipes will help to maintain better balance in a home’s heating and cooling mechanisms and lower energy costs for years to come. Do-it-yourselfers contemplating new construction or remodeling can realize future savings by using modern building materials and appliances that meet increased fuel efficiency standards. Save money on energy costs with little or no effort by implementing some of the easy fixes that will reduce consumption.
DIY—yes or no?
One of the least frugal projects is the one a do-it-yourselfer is unqualified for. Major electrical, plumbing or heating projects that require special skills or licenses are best left to the professionals. For example, replacing a roof without full knowledge of the problems and potential dangers that could occur in the process is foolhardy. Unforeseen injuries or structural harm to a building related to improper application of the roofing materials can negate any savings in labor and cause even greater expense to repair or correct the problem.
Frugal DIYers save large sums of money on property maintenance by applying their talents where they are the most effective and by trading or combining skills with other qualified handymen.