Do It Yourself or Hire a Professional?

May 8, 2013

To celebrate National Home Remodeling Month in May, the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) Remodelers recommends that home owners consider the safety risks, time delays and hidden costs before attempting do-it-yourself (DIY) home improvements.

According to the 2011 American Housing Survey (AHS) from the HUD/Census Bureau, home owner do-it-yourself (DIY) projects accounted for 37 percent of all home remodeling projects performed nationwide from 2010-2011 but only 18 percent of all remodeling spending. DIY home improvement projects tend to be smaller, require less technical training and expertise and cost less, with 50 percent of home owners spending less than $950 on these projects. At the same time the median spending on professional remodeling projects is close to $4,000.

One of the most expensive remodeling projects is a kitchen addition, with half of these projects costing more than $27,000. Very few homeowners attempt or manage to add a kitchen on their own. The AHS data show that more than 80 percent of kitchen additions are done professionally.  Replacing roofing is also largely outsourced to professional remodelers, 82 percent of these projects are completed by professionals. Home owners also tend to hire professionals when it comes to home improvement projects that require technical training and, often, a professional license.  Close to 90 percent of all remodeling projects that involve adding or replacing HVAC system are done professionally. Almost two thirds of projects that replace internal water pipes, electrical system, major equipment and appliances are completed by professionals. Not only that home owners might not have the right tools and knowledge to complete these projects, but many warranties become void by improper installation.

Home owners are more adventurous and successful in finishing smaller projects. About half of all plumbing fixtures replacements are completed with no professional help. More than half of all bedroom and recreation room renovations are completed by home owners as well. These tend to be smaller projects, with half of them costing less than $1,500 and $1,600, respectively. Professional bedroom and recreation room renovations are bigger in scope with median spending of $5,000 and close to $7,000, respectively.

For additional tips and considerations before taking on a DIY home remodel read the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) Remodelers press release

HUD Study Finds 23.8 Million Homes Have Served Both Owners and Renters

June 22, 2012

A recent study commissioned by HUD used the American Housing Survey (AHS, funded by HUD & conducted in odd-numbered years by the Census Bureau) to look at how the stock of housing in the U.S. has evolved to serve different segments of the market over time.  The study found that 23.8 million of the homes present in 2009 had switched back and forth between serving owners (being either owner occupied or vacant for sale) and renters (renter occupied or vacant for rent) at some point since 1985.  This is considerably fewer than the 54.2 million units that had been for owners consistently, but more than the 18.3 that served the rental community continuously during that span:

The remainder of the 129.7 million housing units not shown in the above graph were either seasonal or had some other kind of mixed history (renter/seasonal, owner/temporarily out of the stock, etc.)

The HUD study also used statistical models to show how various attributes of a home affect its chances of having a mixed owner/rental history.  The chart below shows how fewer bedrooms, an earlier vintage, and a location in the West Census Division alter the chances for a  base case 2-bedroom single-family detached home, built in the late 1970s in a Southern central city:

To conduct the study, HUD commissioned Econometrica, Inc. of Bethesda Maryland to employ a special data file that traces what happened to individual housing units across all 13 installments of the AHS conducted between 1985 and 2009.  The most common career path for the mixed own/rent cases was a housing unit that served renters in 1 survey and owners in 12, followed by a unit that served renters in 2 surveys and owners in 11.

The fragile and temporary attachment of some units to the rental stock has significant implications for U.S. housing markets.  An apparent surplus of rental units on the market may disappear quickly if the rate of renter-to-owner conversions accelerates with changing economic conditions.

The study also illustrates the importance of continuing to fund and conduct the AHS, as there is no other national data set that can trace how individual housing units evolve to serve different segments of the market over time.