Summer brings out the home contractors, including painters, roofers and window installers. In 2010 and 2011, Americans spent approximately $359 billion on improving their homes, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. That’s a median expenditure of $3,200 per household.
Siding. It may not be the most exciting part of your home, but siding is critical to maintaining a safe home. When siding weathers, it creates gaps and enables water to seep through, which can warp the wood structure supporting your home. It can also cause mold and mildew to grow, which can lead to health problems for members of your household.
Although repairing and replacing your siding won’t likely trigger the level of excitement that, say, a kitchen remodel would, it is one of the best projects to do on your own. Based on national medians, professional siding installation costs more than five times the DIY route. The median savings would be about $3,400, based on census data.
Plumbing. Fixing a leaky faucet or drain can lower your water bill—making it a high priority among homeowners. Hiring a plumber for a typical repair can cost more than four times what it would cost to do it on your own. If you have a knack for plumbing, it’s a repair that can be done quickly and will spare your wallet—banking a savings of about $670. However, damaging pipes can do serious damage to your finances, so consider hiring a professional if you’re unsure of your capabilities.
Kitchen. Although it requires a significant amount of time and effort, remodeling the kitchen on your own can save you big bucks. Median savings for an American household for a DIY kitchen was approximately $4,500, according to census data. Factor in the increased value in home equity and you’ll find a DIY kitchen remodel would substantially benefit your finances.
Improvements that don’t save as much as you would think. While some DIY renovations can do wonders for your bank account, not all projects are created equal. The three least-attractive projects, based on the percent savings or total savings, include adding a carport (23 percent savings), installing appliances (43 percent savings) and installing plumbing fixtures (an estimated $300 in savings).
Of course, tackling any of those projects on your own will help your finances, but if you are looking for justification to sit one out and use a professional, those renovations return the least amount of savings.
JP is a writer for the money blog 20's Finances. He is an MBA and the financial officer for a nonprofit organization.
Clarified on 4/26/2013: A previous version of this article cited the 2011 Remodeling magazine annual cost vs. value report for the cost of a kitchen remodel. A minor kitchen remodel costs approximately $18,500, according to Remodeling magazine’s 2013 annual cost vs. value report.