living an unconventional life, one cocktail at a time

Tips for Do-It-Yourselfers.

My husband is an excellent handyman, carpenter, do-it-yourselfer— whatever you want to call someone who can do almost anything better than the so-called professionals.

We’ve owned our home for twelve years, and we’ve had at least one home project going at any given time. Usually more than one. We’ve done everything from small projects like painting and laying wood laminate flooring to massive projects like rebuilding the kitchen and converting a two-apartment duplex back into a single-family home.

Dave has done almost all of this work himself. We’ve been lucky to find great deals on supplies along the way, in addition to saving money on labor costs. The only things I can remember paying someone else to do? Plumbing, after he fought with the copper pipes long enough to get frustrated; drywall work (after which he discovered he could have done a much better job himself); and a new roof, but only because ours was destroyed by a hailstorm and our insurance paid for someone else to fix it.

We’re in the middle of yet another massive project— adding on two new rooms above our kitchen. As Dave planned this project, we learned something we didn’t know before.

You don’t have to be a professional contractor to request bids from home improvement stores.

Dave put together his materials list and submitted it to several supply stores, including Home Depot and the local McCray Lumber. We prefer to shop locally-owned stores when possible, but we also knew this project would be expensive; to be honest, we fully believed that Home Depot would come back with a lower bid.

We were wrong.

McCray Lumber, a local-ish business with locations in Kansas City, Topeka and Lawrence, came back with a bid almost a full thousand dollars less than Home Depot. Obviously they got our business.

Lessons learned: anyone can request a bid for home improvement projects, and don’t assume that the big-box store is always cheaper.

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