10 of the Best & Worst Renovation Projects for DIY Homeowners

Posted by Laine Smith on 11/28/16 12:41 PM

Topics: Home Ownership

We're in the age of do-it-yourself homeownership. Through online tutorials and big box improvement stores, homeowners have the means and education to complete their own renovation projects, but are they happy with the overall project? According to a Zillow analysis, three-quarters of homeowners completed a DIY home improvement project in the last three years, but nearly 40 percent of those homeowners wish they hadn't.

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The most notable reason homeowners decide to tackle home improvement projects is to save money, but nearly 25% of those DIY homeowners said their project went over budget, especially on larger-scale renovations.

While some home improvement costs can be minimized by completing them yourself, the study found that homeowners who completed smaller projects were less likely to go over budget and less likely to regret the project altogether. If you're considering making home improvements, this list may help you determine which projects are best to do yourself and which projects you should call in a professional to complete.

5 Most Regretted DIY Home Improvements

Adding a Room or Expanding/Altering an Existing Room

Homeowners with DIY Regrets: 53%

DIY Homeowners Who Went Over Budget: 42%

The most expensive and most regretted DIY home improvement would be a room expansion or addition (and for good reason). Think about all of the skills and expertise needed to construct a home: electrical, plumbing, foundation, lighting, drywall, insulation, etc.

Though a master bedroom addition can be a great way to increase the enjoyment of your home, if you're making the investment to build one, you should hire professionals to complete it.

Refacing or Refinishing Cabinetry (Bathroom or Kitchen)

Homeowners with DIY Regrets: 49%

DIY Homeowners Who Went Over Budget: 20%

To avoid the hefty cost of installing new cabinetry, many homeowners reface or refinish cabinets. According to Cost Helper, a complete kitchen cabinet reface can cost $1,000-$3,000 for thermofoil or laminate, $2,500-$6,000 for real wood veneer and $7,000+ for high-end replacements.

Can you reface/refinish cabinetry yourself? Yes, but keep in mind that the job can be time-consuming and messy, as well as render your kitchen unusable until completion.

Refinishing Basement or Attic

Homeowners with DIY Regrets: 48%

DIY Homeowners Who Went Over Budget: 23%

Making use of unused square footage, like a basement or attic, can be of great use to homeowners, but unless you are educated and experienced in electrical wiring, lighting, flooring installation, insulation placement, drywall and sheetrock installation, etc. it's best to hire a contractor.

For budget-friendly ways to upgrade your unfinished basement on a budget, click here.

Replacing/Re-Installing New Carpeting

Homeowners with DIY Regrets: 43%

DIY Homeowners Who Went Over Budget: 23%

Though you can easily rent the necessary tools to install your own carpeting, it may not be worth the rental cost unless you’re well-versed in how to properly use those tools. On another note, if you can't lay the carpet and padding down to the manufacturer's specifications, you risk the chance of voiding the carpet's warranty.

Re-Installing New Cabinets

Homeowners with DIY Regrets: 41%

DIY Homeowners Who Went Over Budget: 15%

New kitchen or bathroom cabinets are usually a hefty investment and often a big selling point when you go to list your home. Installation of cabinets is typically not a solitary job and requires a significant amount of measuring, leveling and reinforcement. It's better to leave this remodeling project to the pros.

5 Least Regretted DIY Home Improvements

Replacing Light Fixtures

Homeowners with DIY Regrets: 15%

DIY Homeowners Who Went Over Budget: 7%

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Replacing light fixtures is one of the cheapest and easiest ways to change the look and feel of your home. For extra energy efficiency, consider installing ceiling fans with light kits to cut down on heating and cooling costs.

Replacing Cabinet Hardware

Homeowners with DIY Regrets: 18%

DIY Homeowners Who Went Over Budget: 7%

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Replacing cabinet knobs and pulls is another quick and budget-friendly way to update your kitchen or bathroom.

Painting One or More Rooms

Homeowners with DIY Regrets: 18%

DIY Homeowners Who Went Over Budget: 5%



Paint instantly refreshes a home, regardless of age. Read our tips on interior painting and recent color trends to make your DIY project look professional.

Installing New Kitchen Appliances

Homeowners with DIY Regrets: 19%

DIY Homeowners Who Went Over Budget: 13%



Purchasing new kitchen appliances is a great way to upgrade the look and efficiency of your kitchen. Many retailers offer free delivery and installation of appliances, but if not, it's a relatively uncomplicated task for a novice DIY homeowner.

Replacing Plumbing Fixtures (Bath, Sink or Toilet)

Homeowners with DIY Regrets: 23%

DIY Homeowners Who Went Over Budget: 8%

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Replacing a sink or toilet is relatively uncomplicated if your new fixture is the same size as your old one. Here is a great how-to on installing a kitchen sink.

If you are interested in completing home improvements on a larger scale, download our free Rehab & Construction Guide for ways you can finance home improvements into your mortgage loan.

Download: Rehab & Construction Guide

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