Walmsley says next to materials, labour is the most expensive part of a renovation, which is why so many homeowners are attempting to do at least part of it themselves. According to Ron Jones, a salesman for McDiarmid Lumber, in Winnipeg, Man., labour will typically cost about double the price of your materials.
Make a realistic plan
Walmsley needed help cutting back, so for $150 for an evening's work, he hired a contractor to help organize the project. The contractor also provided a list of materials and their cost.
"Get in your head what you want, then a contractor can help you scale it back to what you need," says Walmsley. In the end, the contractor helped him whittle down the project to $50,000.
Do your research
To help create a blueprint of the work he intends on doing, Walmsley hits online DIY chat rooms, such as DIY Chat Forum, to ask questions and read up on common mistakes.
If you're a visual learner, many building centres, such as Home Depot and Rona, offer free DIY workshops. Staff can help map out all the details as well. "These people can help you stick to your budget and will supply a quote for all the equipment and tools you need," says Oscar Quinonez, store manager at Rona in London, Ont.
Once you have a list, start asking your network of DIY neighbours or friends to borrow the tools you don't have or consider renting them.
Rent the right tools
But sometimes, it does make sense to buy. For instance, a 24-foot extension ladder costs $220 to rent for a week, but at $200, it's cheaper to buy. A drill kit, which is a required tool for many DIY projects, costs $67 to rent for a week, but you can own it for $250.
If you decide to rent, ensure you correctly estimate the time you'll need it. "If you underestimate the time you need the tool, it might make more sense to just buy it," says Logan. If you become a frequent renter, many centres offer a loyalty program whereby if you rent a tool four times, the fifth time is 50 per cent off.
It's a good deal, but if you still can't see yourself sawing wood and banging a hammer on your day off, then it's best to trust the work to a contractor so you can ensure it's done properly, even if it ends up costing a little more.
Melanie Chambers is a freelance writer based in London, Ont.
|-- Posted: Aug. 12, 2009