The Real Cost of DIYs

Home ownership comes with exciting benefits like the freedom to renovate your space by redoing cabinets, painting walls, redecorating, and even more involved projects like changing light fixtures, updating appliances, and more. However, all these changes cost money not just for the supplies but for the labor. So, many homeowners are tempted to take matters into their own hands and embark on “do-it-yourself” (DIY) projects.

A recent survey from Cinch found that many DIYers underestimate the actual cost of projects and even spend more money correcting their errors. This article will dive into the biggest motivations to DIY, the top DIY projects, the most expensive and least expensive DIYs, then finally, the most common mistakes and risks.

Biggest Motivations to DIY

In the past few years, more people have been forced to stay in their homes, causing an uptick in the number of people wanting to attempt DIYs versus hiring a professional. Homeowners turned to the internet and social media for ‘DIY inspo’. Cinch found that the top five reasons to DIY were:

  1. “To improve my home” (42%)
  2. “To save money” (38%)
  3. “To express myself and be creative” (26%)
  4. “To improve my problem-solving skills” (25%)
  5. “For fun” (25%).

With the recent housing boom, many sellers turned to DIY projects to increase home value on the market, while buyers used DIY projects to improve homes just purchased. Rising costs from inflation may also be a factor in the decision to DIY.

Top 10 DIYs Attempted and Generational Differences

There are infinite DIY projects to jump into, but the following are the top 10 most-attempted projects: 

  1. Painting walls
  2. Patching a drywall hole 
  3. Unclogging a toilet drain pipe
  4. Steam-cleaning carpets
  5. Repairing a fence
  6. Cleaning couch upholstery  
  7. Repairing a roof
  8. Grouting tile
  9. Installing a ceiling fan
  10. Installing a light fixture 


But each generation had a different preference. Baby boomers and Gen Xers preferred handier DIYs like installing an overhead light fixture (30% of baby boomers) or a ceiling fan (26% of Gen X). Millennials were the most likely generation to attempt a DIY, but only 32% of them had painted interior walls (one of the most popular DIYs). Only 14% of Gen Zers, the most TikTok-influenced generation, had patched drywall or unclogged a toilet drain pipe. 

Most Expensive vs. Least Expensive Projects

Costs vary for different DIYs depending on the home’s location, material costs, and style preferences, but here are some estimated costs of common projects. Here are the lowest estimates for professional jobs and the least successful DIYs:


Restoring old cabinets – $2,550 (Pro) vs. $175 (DIY)

Installing a backsplash – $850 (Pro) vs. $200 (DIY)

Installing an appliance – $350 (Pro) vs. $250 (DIY) 

Living Room:

Painting walls – $650 (Pro) vs. $165 (DIY)

Refinishing hardwood floors – $675 (Pro) vs. $190 (DIY) 

Installing a light fixture – $300 (Pro) vs. $150 (DIY)


Laying tile – $925 (Pro) vs. $250 (DIY) 

Grouting tile – $550 (Pro) vs. $80 (DIY) 

Unclogging a toilet drain pipe – $100 (Pro) vs. $40 (DIY)


Repairing a roof – $400 (Pro) vs. $250 (DIY)

Replacing a garage door – $600 (Pro) vs. $200 (DIY) 

Repairing a fence – $215 (Pro) vs. $80 (DIY)

Overall, one of the hardest DIY projects was refinishing hardwood floors, as 1 in 5 people who attempted this had to call professionals to complete the project.

Common Mistakes and Risks 

While DIY projects can be fun and rewarding, it is important to consider all the hidden costs and possible consequences before you begin. The DIYers spent $152 on average to fix their mistakes. Some of the most common mistakes with DIYs include:

  • Under-budgeting
  • Working beyond skill level
  • Underestimating supplies and tools needed
  • Not factoring in enough time
  • Incorrect measurements
  • Skimping on materials 

DIYs can also be dangerous. One-tenth of people who attempted to repair a roof ended up in the emergency room. Another thing to consider when making large improvements is proper permitting. There are specific regulations for projects, and before taking on an involved project, so remember to consult the pros. 

There is always something to learn from a DIY project. The baby boomer homeowners advised that it was imperative to purchase the correct materials. Gen Xers pushed the need to plan before starting, while millennials and Gen Z recommended allowing ample time to finish.  

What To DIY?

DIY projects can be fun to express creativity and serve as an exciting way to personalize your home at a low cost. Many small projects, like patching drywall, installing fixtures, and painting walls, are easy to execute and can build valuable skills. However, larger and more complicated projects that deal with electrical, plumbing, and roofing may require professional help. 

When evaluating a DIY project, the key things to consider are time, safety, cost, and materials. A little elbow grease and creativity can render a rewarding final product.

Interesting Related Article: “2 Fantastic DIY Garage Shelf Ideas You Should Try Today