Sharing is caring: pool resources and DIY renovate with friends

DIY renovation projects can take time, money and skill. Counteract these constraints with a DIY cooperative.

Sharing is caring: pool resources and DIY renovate with friends

Gather members with diverse skills and plan your course of action. The following sections offer some helpful ideas to get started.

Think complementary

When searching for potential members, consider asking a diverse range of individuals. Retirees have a wide range of free time, which they may enjoy donating to a worthy cause. Stay-at-home parents don't have the nine-to-five routine, which means they may be more flexible with scheduling. Working men and women may have limited time, but they should still be considered possible cooperative members.

Build your co-op from the ground up with a combination of retirees, stay-at-home parents and working men and women. Add to the mix a skills quotient, and finish the group with a smattering of DIY experts who know about construction, plumbing and electrical tasks. The group should have a roster of 10 to 12 people with duplicate skills, to allow for absence or illness. Talk to members about balancing the framework of time commitment with their own DIY plans.

Make a plan

A kick-off meeting is a must. Get everyone together and talk through everyone's DIY wish lists. Depending on plans and members, it may be advisable to recruit additional people.

Project planning should fall into the range of what you hope to achieve in the next three to six months. Long-range planning is generally not advisable, as situations can change or members can relocate. One of the most important initial steps is to appoint a project manager for each project. She/he will be the traffic cop and manager who will schedule work and report back to the owner whose house is being remodelled.

According to the Royal Bank of Canada Renovation Poll, 49 per cent of Canadians who embarked on DIY renovation projects reported going over budget. Group discussions should hone in on costs and budgets to avoid unexpected situations. The project manager should track cost overruns and discuss them with the owner.

A group leader, appointed or volunteered, is also advisable to deal with things like disagreements or glitches in the work schedule.


Test the waters. Begin with a simple project to see how things work out. Painting rooms or completing simple bathroom renovations offer self-contained projects. Consider issues such as insurance against accidents, and check to see whether your homeowner's policy would cover you. DIY co-ops work best if the owner of the property in question buys any necessary supplies, while individual members supply tools and expertise.


Once the first project is completed, have a follow-up session to discuss what went wrong and what went right. Then, plan the next project. Be realistic about the time it will take to complete any project. Taking it slow and getting it right is better than rushing in and botching the whole thing.

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