Part 2: The Surprising Hidden Cost of DIY Renovations

The Surprising Hidden Cost of DIY is the second post in our 3-part series about do-it-yourself (DIY) renovations.

Get caught up on Part 1: The DIY Expense That No One is Talking About.

Today, let’s talk about the assumption that DIY is cheaper. Saving money is often the driving force behind why we consider DIY. Unfortunately, if you don’t choose your DIY project wisely, or something goes wrong, it could cost even more – in some surprising ways.

Discover 3 ways that the cost of DIY renovations can be more than you think


Here are 3 ways the cost of DIY could be more than you think:

Potential Hidden Cost of DIY #1: Your Time

Your time is valuable. Not just because you have things you like to do but also because you can use your time to earn income. When you are taking on renovations yourself, you are spending your time on that renovation. Most of us don’t work for free so there are a couple of ways you can decide if the cost of your time is worth it financially:

Determine what are you’re paying yourself hourly to do the renovation (and decide whether you would work for that)

Essentially, you need to figure out how much you are saving by doing it yourself and divide that amount by the number of hours it will (actually) take you – for more detailed info on this, check out Amy Livingston’s article on Money Crashers here. Once you have that dollar figure, you can decide if you’re will to work for that.The Hidden Cost of DIY

2. Know how much could you make if you worked a job vs. worked on the renovation

Of course, if you take time off from work to complete your renovation, you are either using up precious holiday time or not getting paid. If you’re planning to DIY in your spare time then be aware of the potential for burnout. If you aren’t getting any down time and burning the candle at both ends, you may end up needing to take time off to recover.  First of all, it’s not healthy for you.  Secondly, if you aren’t paid for sick time, you won’t earn any money while you’re off.

Keeping these considerations in mind will help you make an informed decision about whether it is worth it to take on the project yourself.

Potential Hidden Cost of DIY #2: Rent

Renovations are rarely completed in the estimated time frame and this extra time can cost you in rent. Depending on the type of renovation you are completing this can actually happen in a couple of ways:

1. Rental expenses

You may be renting so you aren’t living in the renovation mess. As most renovations take longer than expected, you will end up staying in your rental for longer. This means you are paying mortgage and rent at the same time for longer than you initially budgeted. Yikes! You may also be stuck paying for your rental longer because of when you need to give notice.  Usually there are timelines outlined in the rental agreement stating the amount of notice needed before vacating.

The hidden cost of DIY

2. Rental earnings (if you are adding an income suite)

Another way renovation delays may cost you is through rental income. More accurately, not receiving rental income. Obviously, you can’t rent a suite that isn’t finished so this is another area you may get caught with rental timelines. Most areas have common times when rentals turnover. Because most renters don’t want to pay extra rent, they try not to overlap their rental times. Meaning, you may need to wait for the next rental cycle before tenants move in and are paying.

Potential Hidden Cost of DIY #3: Mistakes

Often when renovating we uncover surprises or underestimate the time needed and require a professional to help us. This can happen when we realize we’ve taken on more than we should have, are burnt out or have mucked things up. Then, not only are you adding time (which equals money) to the project, you’re adding to the cost as well. Cost in time to find someone, cost in more materials and cost of paying someone else. All of this will add up to more money spent than if you had hired someone in the first place.

Th surprising hidden cost of DIY

Any of these costs can add up quickly and easily put you way over budget. Sometimes they are unavoidable but it will help if you do your research and are honest with yourself before starting the project. Ultimately, you need to decide what projects are worth taking on yourself. It’s called Do-It-Yourself, not Do-It-All.

Check out our final post in our series: The (Eventual) Value of DIY

Which potential cost of DIY surprised you the most? Let us know in the comments below.


Denise and Sean

P.S. Follow up on Facebook for updates and fun posts


  1. Great information and insight!! We often try to DIY home renovations and yes the biggest cost for us is our time and that of friends or family. It is a trade-off, they help us we help them. I think many people think DIY is super cheap or super easy but sometimes its neither!!

    • Denise and Sean

      Agreed! DIY can be a great option but it isn’t always. We have appreciated help from friends and family through some of our projects and love being able to return the favours!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.