DIY mistakes measured in time, money, and strained relationships

People who complete a home improvement project on their own can save a significant amount of money and enjoy the satisfaction of a job well done. But attempting a renovation that should have been left to a professional can have just the opposite effect: wasted money, wasted time, and squabbles with a loved one.

The home design site recently released a report on "do it yourself" home improvements and their effects. A total of 1,187 responses were collected for the analysis.

DIY work was most likely to be motivated by financial reasons, with one-third of the respondents saying they did work on their own to save money. One in five said they enjoyed the work, while 17 percent said the project seemed easy. Just 13 percent said they already knew how to do the work.

Younger respondents were more likely to attempt DIY work, with millennials completing an average of 4.6 jobs last year and Generation Xers doing 4.8 jobs. They also spent more money, with millennials typically spending $405 per project and Gen Xers spending $345. By contrast, baby boomers completed an average of 4.3 projects in the past year and spent $331 per job.

Homeowners were most likely to do this work, averaging 4.8 projects in the past year and spending $412. However, renters also did a considerable amount of DIY work at their residence, averaging 3.9 jobs in the past year and spending $275 per project. The report suggests that while renters don't benefit from increased property values from DIY projects, such work can help them recover a deposit or personalize a space without changing it structurally.

Respondents who made a mistake during the project often had to spend several more hours completing the task compared to those who finished the job without issue. On average, mistakes resulted in 5.5 extra hours of work.

Mistakes with flooring installation were most likely to extend a project, more than doubling the average time necessary to complete the work. The average installation with no mistakes took a respondent 13 hours to complete, while a mistake added an average of 13.8 hours.

A mistake in an electrical wiring job increased average time necessary to complete the work from 5.9 hours to 12.8 hours. Plumbing work and the installation of a ceiling fan also ate up a great deal of time when a mistake occurred, adding an average of 6.5 hours. Mistakes with an appliance installation were more easily remedied, typically adding less than an hour to the project.

Mistakes also put a significant dent in respondents' bank accounts, with the average flub increasing the price of a project by $310. The average flooring installation job cost $711 when done without errors, but ballooned to $1,540 if a mistake occurred.

Electrical projects were inexpensive when done correctly, but several times more expensive if the respondent made a mistake. The typical error-free replacement of an electrical outlet cost $118, but the cost multiplied nearly five times to $563 with a mistake. On average, an error added $306 to the $146 cost of installing a ceiling fan and $255 to the $140 cost of an electrical wiring job.

Tiling jobs cost $710 on average, with mistakes typically adding only $58 to the final tab. Landscaping errors resulted in a typical cost increase of $106 to the average cost of $254 to complete the work without mistakes.

Among respondents who were married or in a relationship, more than one in four—28 percent—admitted that they had fought with their significant other during a DIY project. Electrical wiring work was most likely to spark such disagreements, with 43.6 percent of those who completed this work saying they had gotten into an argument with their significant other.

A total of 41.7 percent of those who did drywall hanging or patching said the work resulted in a relationship squabble, along with 39.1 percent of those who replaced an electrical outlet. Appliance installation was least likely to cause an argument, with just 17.4 percent of those doing this project saying it resulted in a fight.

Couples were also more likely to argue if a mistake occurred during the project. A total of 45.8 percent of those who made an error during a DIY project said they quarreled during the project, compared to 21.6 percent who completed the work without making a mistake.


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