Partners Mark Williams and Patric Bouton of Remodeling Services Unlimited, in Murfreesboro, Tenn., have spent more than 25 years building up to full-service design/build work. They specialize in handling high-end projects from start to finish. But today’s economy is changing that. As a cost-saving measure, more and more of their clients are asking to do specific portions of the work on their remodeling projects themselves — and the remodelers are allowing it. “They usually ask to manage their fixture selections or do the paint and tilework,” Williams says. “Two years ago when we had a six-month backlog, we would have said 'Thanks, but no thanks.' But in this market, we have to be more open.”

Painting is the most common DIY request because homeowners have likely tackled that task before, and there is little mystery about how it is done. Another DIY request is providing all the fixtures for the project. Williams recently met with a retired couple who enjoy doing trimwork and asked to do that part of their project. Another couple wanted to do their own drywall installation. Williams also recently received an e-mail response to one of his design/build sales pitches, where the homeowners have requested to do their own design. But, in general, clients are more likely to leave the more complicated aspects of the job, such as electrical work, to professionals such as RSU.

If the remodeling company agrees to take on the job with some DIY on the part of the homeowners, a note in the proposal states that any customer-provided products are excluded from the company’s warranty program. “We also ask that products be on site and ready for installation," Williams says. "If we have to make a trip to the store to buy parts, that will be an extra cost.”

The remodeler also says that with home builders jumping into the remodeling market, project pricing has become very challenging and competitive. “There are more people out there willing to do jobs at a lesser rate,” he says, noting that the company is also accepting projects beyond its previously defined geographic range and type of work.