It is tricky to actually factor how much money you save from DIY. It really depends on what you are DIYing. I am going to break it down into three areas; knockoff products, labor, and fabric home decor. I think each of these areas will help us better explore options for saving money through DIY.
Before we get to that…
DIY does not always save money.
- There is a startup of cost for supplies and tools. After which you can re-use those supplies many times again making subsequent projects cheaper.
- Sometimes it costs more to DIY, then buy. Hopefully, you plan projects to cost less, but sometimes they don’t
I also think it is a huge misconception that people DIY just to save money.
- In my reader survey, saving money was not the number one reason to DIY for almost 80% of the respondents. Far more answered they DIY for a sense of accomplishment or as a creative outlet.
- If you like to DIY to make unique home decor, then you are not saving over buying something else. You are choosing to spend money on a DIY project.
There is a place for saving money with DIY. Generally, this is characterized as a knockoff. Replicating something you like for less money. I would argue most people don’t do this to save money, they do it because they could never afford the original. Saving implies you would have otherwise spent the money, but in most knockoff cases you are making a cheaper version of something you would not have otherwise bought. But we all feel better saying we saved $3000 by making it ourselves :).
My best example of a knockoff is my DIY linear crystal chandelier. The original inspiration version was $2730. I found a copycat version for $349 (something I may have realistically purchased). I decided to save money by making my own version with an Ikea light, wire, and crystals. My version cost $170. I saved about $180 off the light I could have possibly afforded. I have seen that one in person and feel mine is a close replica.
I have also seen the $2730 version and mine is no where close! There are so many more and bigger crystals on that bad boy. So, I don’t claim to have saved $2500. Usually you are not DIYing an exact replica. Even in a knockoff scenario the materials used are often a different quality, resulting in the savings.
Savings is much easier to quantify when you DIY labor instead of hiring it out. You can get an estimate for the labor and then determine if it is worth your time to DIY. On our basement project we expect to save thousands of dollars by painting, tiling, and installing baseboards by ourselves.
My biggest money saver in the labor category…painting! Hiring a professional painter is expensive. If you are willing to take the time, you can save a lot of money painting. I know people that have paid $5000 to have the interior of their home painted, all one color (color changes cost a couple hundred dollars with a pro). We have repainted the entire interior of our home and spent less than $500 on paint and supplies. The difference was our willingness to put in the time to DIY and the pay off was big. We also have a variety of colors in our home…a clean roller, brush, and stirring a new paint color are free.
Fabric Home Decor
One of the easiest ways to save money is to DIY almost anything with fabric. Well, maybe you want to leave serious upholstery to the professionals. For curtains and pillows, definitely DIY! Fabric by the yard, even high-end fabric, is considerably less expensive than what stores charge for a finished product made from the fabric. I have seen pillows like my bedroom pillows for $88 each. The same fabric only cost me $10 a yard on sale, and I used 3 yards to make 3 giant euro pillows.
I highly recommend learning to sew. It is a great DIY skill. Being able to sew your own pillows and curtains can save a ton of money. Most home decor projects only require sewing a straight line. My easy two seam envelope pillow covers are a great starter project. If you really struggle with sewing, there are no-sew options that look just as good. Fusible web for no-sew does cost more than thread. I actually prefer making no-sew curtains.
Ok, now tell me, what is your favorite way to save money through DIY?
Check out the rest of the posts in the DIY or Buy series here.