You can hire a pro, or you can do it yourself.
The three Ts of home maintenance, says Dan DiClerico, home expert for Home Advisor, are: Time, Tools and Talent.
“To do a project yourself, you have to have all three,” he says. “It used to be that time was the factor we didn’t have. Now that many of us are at home, not traveling or going to the office, we have a lot more time. Obviously, doing it yourself is a good way to save money.”
The average annual cost of home maintenance and improvement is $9,000 per home; a kitchen renovation or bathroom addition will raise that number considerably. As DiClerico points out, a homeowner who has a basic understanding of how the home’s systems and parts work can more intelligently decide whether a project needs professional help or not.
“Even if you don’t do the work yourself, you have a good idea of how it’s done, and can hire it out more intelligently.”
Still, some essential summer maintenance projects require professionals. DiClerico provides a list of those, as well as the ones that can be tackled by the homeowner who has the time, the tools and the talent.
Hire It Out: Service the heating system
Summer is the best time for this annual chore, when the system is not in use and maintenance companies are not as busy as during the winter.
“Don’t wait until fall. This is especially important in 2020,” says DiClerico. “If we get a second wave of COVID-19, we will be again be isolated in our homes and companies won’t be able to send out staff.”
The cost of an annual heating system tune-up is a few hundred dollars, depending on the complexity of the system. It is well worth it: a serious repair costs $1,200 and upwards; a new furnace will set the homeowner back $4,000 and up.
Hire It Out: Gutter maintenance
Safety considerations dictate that this should be done by professionals, says DiClerico.
“If you have a single-story ranch house, where you can easily reach the gutters, then maybe this could be a DIY project,” Dan says. “But for two-story houses and more, this is for the experts.”
A thorough annual inspection and repairs to the gutters and downspouts is essential to make sure that water keeps moving away from the house. Especially in the verdant northeast, leaves lodge in the gutters and need to be cleared away.
Hire It Out: Tree trimming
This is one home maintenance project that should never be undertaken by the homeowner.
“There is science and a considerable level of training to learning how to trim dead limbs, etc.,” says Dan DiClerico. “The safety considerations are overwhelming, even if you’re not climbing the tree. Leave this to the experts.”
Do It Yourself: Painting
The tools are fairly basic and readily available and, with proper surface preparation, even a relatively talent-less homeowner can get a professional finish. Time is the important element.
“Summer is a great time to paint,” DiClerico says.
He points out that having a 2,300 square foot house professionally painted costs between $4,000 and $11,000, so a homeowner with the time and the will to do it can save quite a bit of money.
Do It Yourself: Kitchen cabinet refinishing
Giving the kitchen cabinets a new surface finish is a great way to refresh the kitchen, and summer is the best time to do it.
“For the best results, this is a time-consuming project with multiple steps,” DiClerico says. “Ideally, you want to take off the cabinet doors and refinish them outdoors.”
Do It Yourself: New flooring
A homeowner can save several thousand dollars by putting new flooring down instead of hiring it out.
“The skill set for this is higher than painting,” says Dan DiClerico. “Precision cutting is time consuming, but it can be done. Stay with resilient flooring like vinyl or laminate. Those materials have gotten much better looking, and are fairly easy to work with. Stay away from solid wood or tile, which require a high level of skill.”
Do It Yourself: Deck restoration
A great way to breathe new life into an old deck is to clean it.
“You need a few specialty tools, like a pump sprayer to apply cleaner, easily found at the hardware or home maintenance store. Typically, you don’t have to do any sanding; a good cleaning is all that’s needed,” DiClerico says.
Do It Yourself: Seal the house’s air leaks
The materials you need are simple: caulk, expandable foam sealer and weather stripping. Apply them around windows, outlets, plumbing pipes, or anywhere else air intrudes.
“To find the leaks, on a windy day, take a lit incense stick and hold it to windows, doors, etc.,” says Dan DiClerico. “The draft will blow the smoke so that you can see where it is coming from.” He adds that a whole-house fan helps with this exercise, but is not essential.
“An energy audit costs between $300 and $800,” DiClerico says. “That can be money well spent: it finds a wide range of energy leaks all over the house, including appliances, windows and insulation. Utility companies sometimes do them for free or offer rebates.”
His final point is that home maintenance projects are not always either/or DIY or Hire it out.
‘They can be a hybrid. For example: you mow the lawn yourself, but feeding, de-thatching and other periodic tasks are done by a lawn maintenance company. Or, you have the prep work done professionally, but you apply the paint to the walls yourself. Whatever works best for you.”
This content was originally published here.