Fiber cement cost: 3 smart reasons to hire a contractor

Fiber cement cost: 3 smart reasons to hire a contractor

Despite what you've heard, all do-it-yourself siding projects are not created equally. If you've chosen fiber cement, cost isn't figured in only dollars. Brian Krause, owner of Woodstar Remodeling in Des Plaines, Ill., shares some insight into why fiber cement siding installation might be better left to a contractor.

1. Health and safety

If you're going to tackle a fiber cement siding project, don't forget the respirator. When cut or drilled, fiber cement siding produces silica dust, which can cause scar tissue in the lungs, debilitating lung disease and cancer, according to a 2008 Oregon OSHA publication.

Silica dust isn't the only safety concern, warns Krause. "The thing that you've got to calculate when you look at the cost is, do you have the ability to work up high?"

Single story ranch houses may only result in a 4-foot fall and a broken leg. But multi-story houses create high and dangerous working conditions, and each 12-foot piece of easy-to-crack siding weighs 2.3 pounds.

"Very few homeowners have the proper scaffolding and the safety equipment to do it," explains Krause, who doesn't consider a 2-by-4 balanced between two ladders to be safe scaffolding.

2. Time is money

Krause's brother, who works for Krause and is an experienced do-it-yourselfer, is currently having a crew install fiber cement siding, instead of doing the project himself. Why?

"It's not a 1-2 man kind of a job," says Krause. Fiber cement siding installation typically takes a six-person crew of professionals two days to finish. "There's a lot of labor involved. Two guys are not getting this done in a week."

If you--and whoever helps you--take time off from work, and your home is torn up for a week or more, you didn't really save any money.

3. Quality of workmanship

The devil is in the finishing details. "When you're doing the trimming around corners and windows, there's a lot of time and cost involved in that," cautions Krause. "That's an area where people tend to make a lot of mistakes. If you're not conscientious of your trim work, you can ruin a job."

Total fiber cement cost = contractors mean dollars well spent

Regarding DIY fiber cement jobs, explains Krause, "There's money to be saved, but it's generally not as much money as most people think."

Krause estimates that half of the project cost could be labor. A typical, 2000 square-foot house might save around $7,000 in labor, but when calculating the time and expertise requirements, as well as health and safety, you might want to leave fiber cement siding installation to experienced professionals.

"I wouldn't say that with fiber cement you'd have any more cost savings compared to any other do-it-yourself project. Doing fiber cement yourself isn't the most bang for your buck. It is physically brutal, excruciating work. You have to be somebody who is ready for that."


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