5 Tips for Saving Money On Your Next DIY Project

by Travis Pizel · 2 comments

I’ve been staring at the dirt circle in my backyard where our trampoline used to be for a couple of years now. I’ve been diligently killing anything that grew in the circle the entire time as the plan was to build a circular fire pit in that location.

Finally, my wife and I decided this spring to put our plan into action, so we went to a local big box hardware store to get some information on our DIY fire pit project. We thought it would be a great project to work on together, with a finished product that we could enjoy for years to come.

During the process we learned five important tips everyone should know before taking on a complicated DIY project. Let me share those with you.

1. Research the Materials Needed

We asked the store associate questions about fire pit kits as well as how to calculate the number of paver stones that would be needed to build the area around the pit for a set of chairs.

He then brought us over to a landscape estimator terminal that would help us select the paver stone style and pattern. When we were done, the machine printed off a list of materials along with the cost and directions on how to build our fire pit and seating area.

As we navigated ourselves through the process, our excitement turned into doubts that doing the project ourselves was the best idea. Understanding all the materials we needed put our project into better perspective – for both our time and our wallets.

2. Estimate the Entire Cost

We figured we would have to buy the fire ring and paver stones. However, it also turns out that we also need sand and a paver base to ensure the pavers sit on a solid foundation. We also need locking sand to pour between the pavers once we’re done so they stay put. Because of the extra materials, the price of our project increased sizably.

As you’re researching all the materials and putting your DIY project together, try to include everything you’ll need so you can accurately estimate what it will cost. To be safe, it’s a good idea to add a bit more cushion to your budget in case you go over the original estimate (which is likely in DIY projects).

3. Understand the Process

After making an entire list of all the materials needed, we found out that we would have to dig out about seven inches of dirt around the fire pit in order to install the sand, base, and then the paver stone. In other words, the project was definitely going to involve more work than we initially thought.

As you prepare for your DIY project, chat with an expert or do some research online. That way you can fully understand what the process will entail. It’s likely that you will end up spending more time and money than when you set out, so keep this in mind.

4. Figure Out the Tools Needed

The paver base for our fire pit needs to be solidified using a compactor, which is a motorized tool we have to rent from a store or borrow from a friend. Before you start any DIY project, determine what kind of tools or equipment is needed for each task.

If you’re unable to borrow what you need from a friend or family member, do some research to compare prices with different stores where you can rent the tools you need for the job. Costs can balloon really quickly so every dollar counts.

5. Know Construction Rules

The employee at the hardware store reminded us that if we were going to dig seven inches into our lawn, we should contact the city to have them mark where the utility lines are on our property. Hitting a utility line while digging could result in loss of service to our home. Worst, it could be dangerous.

We haven’t decided on whether or not to go ahead with the project ourselves or hire someone to do it, but at least we now have all the information we need to make a budget-savvy decision.

Do it yourself projects can save a lot money, but you have to know what you’re doing. Otherwise they could end up costing you more than you bargained for. Even if you plan to do it yourself, it’s wise to talk to a professional to gather all the information to safely and correctly complete your project while staying on budget.

Are you thinking of starting a DIY project? What’s another tip for spending smart?

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