Sweat Equity Savings
Although I would love to sell my house, the rough market makes it impossible to get out from under my mortgage without taking a bath. Luckily, my interest rate is fixed for a few more years. Hopefully rates will fall and the market will come back. In the meantime, I have low rate and a roof over my head. Basically, I am blessed.
In the meantime, I am doing things to improve my home using sweat equity.
Lets say project X would cost $1,000 to hire someone to do the work. It will increase the value of your home by $750. Not a good investment (although it may be worth it if you get $250 of enjoyment out of it).
If you can buy the materials and rent the appropriate tools, you might be able to do the job for an out of pocket cost of $500. Now, you get $250 in equity in your home plus the enjoyment of the improvement.
One word of warning: Smaller Jobs are better projects for the DIY’er. Avoid larger/dangerous jobs.
Example Project: I had a strip of bad dirt at the front of my property caused by years of snowplow sand/salt. Basically, nothing grew. I got out the wheelbarrow, tore out the bad dirt a few inches below the grade, and planted new grass. I am happy to report my front lawn looks great. Having said that, I learned from the inevitable mistakes made:
1. I should have had a local place deliver bulk topsoil. It would have been faster and probably saved me a few bucks.
2. For small patches in lawn, sod is your friend. I had a few uneven spots in my back yard. I used the dirt to even it out and planted seed. While it eventually took, it took a “long” time to get it to germinate and fill in. Later, I patched a small strip with sod and it took in one week. Although the upfront cost was higher, it didn’t need fertilizer, water, and constant tending.