Home Improvement For Dummies

Home Improvement For Dummies

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How to Get the Job Done Without Going Broke

My apologies to the “For Dummies” franchise if I stole your title, but I couldn’t think of a better way to express what I wanted to say. Like many homeowners, I’m not the best person to get a job done around the house. Sure, I can hang a picture, change a light bulb, paint a wall, clean out gutters, and do other simple tasks, but when it comes to more challenging jobs I let my fingers do the walking (through the Yellow Pages, that is!)

home improvementBut, as we all know, using a professional to get the job done can get expensive. These days you not only have to pay a high hourly charge, but you may have to pay a fuel surcharge on top of that. Suddenly, that simple electrical job became a real budget buster!

There are a number of different ways to get work done, so let’s explore what cost saving options are available to you:

Barter — You’re good at keeping the books and your friend is an excellent plumber. Why not help each other out? He’ll replace the pipes in your bathroom (you pay for the materials) while you can do his taxes (he can pay for the tax software). Bartering websites have sprung up to help connect people, but you’ll probably do better exchanging services with someone you know and trust.

Friends and Family — Somewhat like bartering, but not for exchanging services, is there a family member or close friend who wouldn’t mind giving you a hand? Always, offer to pay for their service and cover the cost of materials used, but their price could be quite a bit lower than the person who charges the going rate.

Church Outreach — As a way to share the gospel and/or to show love in action, some churches provide teams of congregants who use their special skills to bless others. In this case you may have to be a person of limited means to qualify, but you can always round up a bunch of guys from your men’s group and ask them to lend a hand — just have plenty of coffee, soda, and pizza on hand!

Love Thy Neighbor — If you live in a neighborhood where people are truly neighborly, your best chance for help could be the guy next door. Maybe he can’t do the job without your help, so be prepared to pitch in. And, as far as pay goes, didn’t his kids use your pool all summer long? Time for some pay back!

Most definitely, any home improvement project can cost you big bucks, but don’t go cheap and settle for someone who doesn’t know what they’re doing. Cost of materials, licensing, and permits may need to be factored in; for big jobs hire a contractor and opt for a home equity loan to cover your costs.

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