Home Renovation Tips – What Does it Cost to Do the Work?


Always remember that your labor isn’t free. It’s worth something, sometimes a great deal. The best example I can give is of my own foolishness. About 25 years ago I was renovating a home. In it was a big, old, abandoned refrigerator that needed to be removed. Being young and strong at the time (headstrong, that is), I decided to remove it myself.

I succeeded, at the cost of a hernia, which put me out of action for a month-not to mention doctor and hospital bills. It might have cost me $20 to have someone who did that sort of work for a living haul the refrigerator out. So how much did it really cost me do it myself?

Calculating Your “Wages”

How much is your own work done on a renovating project worth? The temptation is to say it’s not worth anything, because it’s done in your spare or additional time. Or to say that it’s worth so much that you can’t put a price tag on it. Both claims are evasions. Your work is worth something and you should be able to figure out how much, or pretty close to it.

The best approach is to think in terms of time, of hours spent, and to calculate what you might otherwise be doing and how much time (and money) you are losing by not doing that other job. Let’s say that you’re a computer programmer and that you gross about $1000 a week. (You might truly make much more, or less. We’re just picking an haphazard figure.) Your hourly wage is $25.

If you have to take any time at all away from work for the renovation, you should bill yourself at $25 an hour. If you work at renovating in the evening and this causes you to be tired and sluggish at your regular job, resulting in errors or lost time or clients, you should bill that evening’s work at $25 an hour. It’s taking time away from your regular job in the worst possible way.

The Value of Your Time

Let’s say, however, that you do the renovation work only on week¬ends or in the evening or during your vacation. In other words, you don’t really take any time away from your regular job to do it. Does that average your time is free? I don’t think so. There is nevertheless a cost involved. If you weren’t renovating, could you be taking in other work on the side and making additional cash? Or could you just be sitting on the sofa and enjoying the television?

My own feeling is that although it’s difficult to pinpoint the exact value of time spent away from your regular job, that time is nevertheless valuable. To my way of thinking, the only realistic way to bill it is at your regular hourly rate. If you are a programmer, already if you aren’t taking time away from your work, you are nevertheless worth at the minimum $25 an hour.

consequently, we arrive at a working wage for you when you do your own renovation work. The time you put in is worth what you otherwise earn, on an hourly basis, at your regular work.

I’m sure that some readers are thinking that my method of calculating “work worth” is haphazard and perhaps already unfair, particularly when it comes to additional time. Those of you who feel that way may be right. But I would argue that, if I’m erring, it’s probably on the side of not claiming enough!

How much is time spent away from the family worth? How much are you willing to sell your additional time for? Shouldn’t it be sold for more than regular time spent at work? After all, aren’t you worth more when you work for yourself than when you work for someone else?

My point here is that most people terribly underrate the value of their work. Chances are your time spent on a renovation project is worth far more than you think.

leave your comment