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DIY - How to Use Sweat Equity to Save Money, when You Improve Your Home

Updated on May 23, 2011

Wall Removed between Kitchen and Dining Room

Opening up the kitchen to the dining room can make a big difference in the traffic flow in the rooms.
Opening up the kitchen to the dining room can make a big difference in the traffic flow in the rooms. | Source

What is sweat equity?

When you do your own home improvements, not only are you making needed improvements, you are actually increasing your property value, at the same time. This is also known as sweat equity. So, you are saving money by being your own contractor.

Many times the labor to do a home improvement project, will be more expensive than the materials that are needed to the job. The more skills you can learn, the more money you can save on updates, changes, and improvements.

A Kitchen Remodel

As a example, let's consider a kitchen remodel. A closed in kitchen that is isolated from the dining room, and living room is outdated. It is also not nearly as functional as an open kitchen. Traffic flow is disrupted by the wall between the rooms.

Entertaining is difficult with this type of floorplan. What if you decide that the wall between the rooms needs to be removed? With the right tools and skills, you can do this type of project yourself, and quickly be enjoying your updated kitchen.

I speak with the voice of experience here, having recently gone through this type of project myself. The new open floorplan makes it feel like a room was added on to the house! It is so much more open, and spacious, and entertaining is a much more enjoyable experience, for the cook and the guests. No more being stuck in a small the kitchen away from the guests.

This type of remodeling project is going to involve lots of work. But, it is so worth it. It also increases the value of the house. The kitchen is one of the rooms that can make or break, the sale of a house.

So you have made the decision to remodel your kitchen. You start with demo. This is a very exciting part of the project. And once you take the wall out, the floor is going to have to be repaired over the new opening. So, that probably means a new floor will have to be installed in one of the rooms, and since the kitchen is getting the update, that should be the kitchen.

You will also need a threshold. When pricing floors for a project like this, we found out that the labor to install a new lanolium floor cost more than the materials for a much nicer floating floor, that could easily be a DIY project, installed in one day.

You may have electrical wires in the wall that have to be rerouted.This requires electrical skills. Electricity is dangerous, so make sure you know what you are doing before you consider making changes with electrical projects. If you need to contract this part of the job out, for safety reasons, do it.

The new opening will need to be trimmed out with molding to match the rest of the house.

Another expensive part of a kitchen remodel is the countertops. If the countertops are still in good condition, consider changing the backsplash ( if you have one) to update the look. You can make your countertop look much more up to date without actually changing it. Remove any old backsplash carefully, so you do not damage your countertops.

Using tile as a backplash that has a natural stone look, is a nice update. It you choose a backsplash that picks up the color of the countertop you can give it all a new look. Choose a material that is not trendy, so you don't get tired of it later.

You will need to know how to install tile to do this yourself, But if you can, you will save more than the price of the materials again.

Cabinets are expensive, but if your cabinets are still in good condition, changing the hardware can really make a difference without breaking the bank. Update to pewter knobs to match stainless steel appliances for a better look, than outdated brass hardware.

If your cabinets need more extensive work, consider painting or staining your existing cabinets. You can also replace the cabinet doors if needed instead of getting new cabinets. Make sure to do the prep work needed to do the job right if you paint or stain, to ensure the job lasts for a long time.

Painting the Room

Once you remodel a kitchen or whatever room you decide to update, you are going to need to paint the space. Painting a room is an inexpensive update that can make a huge difference in the look of a room. If you open up a room such as a kitchen to another room, using the same color as the adjoining room makes the space feel larger and makes the colors flow better.

Depending on your choice of colors, if you purchase good paint, you should be happy with the new color for several years. For rooms such as kitchens, utility rooms, bathrooms and childrens rooms, always use a good washable semi gloss paint to get the best value. Flat paint cannot be washed. Semi gloss is more durable.

Painting is another project that can be a DIY project. Study the techniques, by reading books, watching videos, visiting home improvement websites and practicing. Help a friend with painting and remodeling projects to learn alot of skills for your own updates.

Soon you will be ready to make updates all over the house, and you will be increasing your homes value through sweat equity as you do. You will take great pride in your accomplishments when you do this updates yourself.

Share your stories below.


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    • RentedMule profile image

      RentedMule 6 years ago from Lexington Kentucky

      Ancilloti, thanks so much for your comment! Glad I could be of help. Freda

    • Ancillotti profile image

      Ancillotti 6 years ago from Brasil, Vitoria - ES

      I loved your hub! Congratulations, you write very well! I liked the theme, I really needed some tips of the sort!

    • RentedMule profile image

      RentedMule 6 years ago from Lexington Kentucky

      Great minds think alike! And, that is really cool, my husband is a plumber! Can't wait to read your hubpages article on sweat equity, and connect!

      Thanks for your comment!


    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 6 years ago from the short journey

      This is the second time we've been on the same wave-length!

      What started out as a deep spring cleaning project has become a sweat equity project at our house. The cleaning revealed a slow plumbing problem that destroyed some wood. As I am hubbing tonight, I am also helping my "I can do it" hubby. :) Mostly I am standing by as needed, and it gave me the chance to catch your hub hot off the press. Good stuff you share here. Very good stuff!