Homeowners are often faced with a dilemma: Will it be cheaper in the long run to hire a professional or to do it yourself? Some homeowners approach projects with a certain sense of adventure, the desire to build with your own hands, to stand back at the end of the day with the satisfaction of a job well done. For others, the impetus is often a desire to save money. Building a deck can be an easy and uncomplicated project perfect for a budding handyman, or it can be a multilevel nightmare best left to a professional.
Pro vs DIY
When deciding whether to build your own deck, first consider the tools and workspace available to you. If you already have a set of tools, some experience with woodworking, and a space to work in, you’re already in a good starting position. However, understand that your skills do not compare with those of a professional deck builder. A pro, who does the same thing every day to earn a living, will finish faster and be in a better position to deal with problems that arise during the project.
On the other hand, building your own deck is great experience, and a great way to expand your skills. There are a number of things to consider, including existing construction, like a cement slab that cries for modernization, or the need for supports under an elevated deck. The less complicated construction there is, the more likely you are to be happy with the results.
Saving Money with DIY
When you hire a professional, you can assume a material markup up 5 to 10%. This covers the cost of purchasing and transporting the materials. Some contractors simplify the bidding process by charging three times the cost of the materials. In that case, an intrepid homeowner can save more than 2/3 of the cost of installing a deck by doing it himself.
This is a significant savings unless you must factor in the cost of tools, like a cordless drill, a rubber hammer, a jigsaw, and a miter saw, to name just a few.
You can’t save time with DIY. A pro will be finished in a short period of time, but it may take you a month or more of weekends. Home DIY projects are a labor of love. They require a commitment to see the project through to the finish. If you’re willing and able to commit, go for it.
Shaving Cost without Sacrificing Quality
If the task of building the deck is daunting but you need to save money, consider a hybrid approach. Buy the materials and bring them home yourself. Consult a deck builder in advance to get his recommendations, make careful measurements, and follow a materials list. Shop at a discount lumber source. You’ll get the same materials and save the markup. You can also hire a contractor to build a foundation only.
Have a solid frame built then add the finishing touches, including the flooring and the railings, yourself. That way, you can be sure the deck is structurally sound and still get bragging rights for knocking out the deck on your own.