I recently read this article from Mr. Money Mustache (MMM) named Making Space for BadassityIn this article, MMM challenges his readers to stay home for a weekend with zero plans. He writes, make a list of things you want to get done around the house or something you can do to improve yourself. Be the handyman, don’t hire one!

In my post today, I review two handyman tasks I took on as a new homeowner that I thought I couldn’t tackle. I made space to create some of my own Badassity! The first was building a new table for our dining room. The second was completing a remodel of our basement when our 20-year-old sump pump decided to malfunction.

So how does this tie into personal finance? Two items. First, I was able to save a significant amount of money completing both tasks myself (with the help from some good buddies of course.) Second, you have to be able to try new things and take action. Similarly, in personal finance, you will not break the bad habits you have today unless you are intentional in making positive changes in your financial habits.

Farmhouse Table

In a previous post, I reviewed How I built a Farmhouse Table in great detail. Today, I close out the post with a picture of the final product and the final cost information.


Total Table Costs

As you can see, all-in for the table I only spent a little over $300. Equivalent wood tables were a minimum of $600 brand new at various furniture stores we visited. Below is a picture of the final product.

Final Product

This project was fulfilling on many levels. First, I got to spend some quality bro time with my buddy that helped me build the table. Luckily, he had some experience putting together this type of farmhouse table. This made the table construction process fairly seamless.

Second, using power tools is bad ass. For this table, I used a drill, miter saw, belt sander, and an orbital sander. It was satisfying to use these tools to take plain pieces of wood and turn them into something useful and beautiful.

Finally, the joy that using the table for family dinners brings me is indescribable. My family doesn’t go out to eat much. And with a baby, it is even more difficult to go out. Therefore, our table is used heavily and so far it has been quite durable. My daughter enjoys playing underneath the table, so I had to double check my sanding work to ensure she wouldn’t get any splinters!

Basement Flood Remodel

In early May, our sump pump decided to fail. We caught the flooding before it was able to spread across the entire surface of the basement. Hopefully, your basement never floods.  If it does, I wrote a post on the 7 Steps to Dry a Basement

Luckily, our homeowner’s insurance covers a failed sump pump. After the adjuster came out to take a look, we were given the full amount that our policy covers – $10,000. This is a great deal of money, but we quickly saw how the money was going to disappear once we had some renovation companies come out to assess the rework.

One of my good buddies recently finished his basement, so I had him come over to scope out the amount of work it would take to complete the job myself. In addition, I wanted to see if we could finish a 4th bedroom downstairs. This 4th bedroom would come in handy so we could house our family and also any friends that visit and consume too much to drive home 🙂

I had to choose between blowing all of the $10k to get the basement back to the state it was in pre-flood or completing the work myself and attempting to finish off a room. One of the estimates that included finishing the 4th bedroom was going to cost me an extra $1,200 beyond the $10k I received from insurance. Additionally, I had to pay a $1,000 deductible AND my premiums were going to go up. The premium increase over three years was going to cost about $2,100.

So did I man up or contract out the work?

I have to thank my buddy, Brad, and my wife for pushing me to do the work myself. Let me get to the numbers first, and then I will walk throw some progress pictures of the remodel.

I listed all of the costs for the items needed to complete the job, which totaled $5,063.85. This included the costs to finish the 4th bedroom as well. Now that I think of it, the one item I forgot to include was beer money for my buddy and father-in-law. My father-in-law is an electrician so I was able to save big time there – a case of High Life is much more cost effective than the amount electrician’s charge by the hour.

Next, I show my insurance claim amount less my deductible and insurance premium increases.

Basement renovation costs

Finally, you can see that I actually MADE money!! And I got another nice tool out of the deal.

Remodel Pictures

Huge thanks and shout out to my buddy Brad for helping me out. Brad knew what he was doing and I’m sure his help saved me many headaches if I had instead completed the work solo.

Here is a picture of the basement where I wanted to finish the 4th bedroom. Off to the left is my utility closet.

Getting the room ready to frame

Here is a progress picture of framing out the wall. We also framed a closet, which you can see the bottom studs if you look closely on the left side of the picture.

Framing out the wall and closet

Next up was the drywall. I did hire out someone to tape and mud the drywall so that it looks nice.

Drywall on the new wall

I also added some tile in front of the patio door, which wasn’t there prior to the flooding. Tiling was fun and quite straightforward!

I even did some tile work!

Here is a picture of the final product!

The final product, post-flood.

What about that extra cash…?

We were actually sitting on quite a bit of cash because I wasn’t sure how much everything would cost. I was able to contribute $2,500 to each of these three accounts – my Roth IRA, my wife’s Roth IRA and our taxable account! We’ve really focused on our spending and increasing our savings rate. We did save some money into our Ally savings account for a vacation, so we aren’t being entirely stingy 🙂

Have you tackled any home projects yourself instead of hiring them out?