In Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Tom convinces his friends that whitewashing a fence is great fun. In order to experience the pleasure, he requests a present from each friend. Not only does Tom get his friends to do his work, he also receives some treasures in exchange.

It seems that Tom was on to something. With home sales slowing and building supplies becoming more expensive, homeowners are returning to the old practice of drumming up free labor by renaming the activity a “remodeling party.” If it’s fun, who wouldn’t want to join? Luring friends and family with promises of free beer and food, these parties are gaining popularity. But don’t be surprised if these parties get out of control quickly—something about drunk revelers equipped with power tools strikes me as a bad idea. Especially when they are tearing through your house demolishing everything in sight.

The Real Estate Journal has an interesting article on the subject, chronicling the various mishaps and miscues of parties gone wrong. I especially like the story about the drywall installed backwards. Experienced contactors may be the biggest winners in this trend—undoing the mistakes of inexperienced and over-enthusiastic DIYers is potentially quite lucrative. One enterprising contractor charges $40 an hour to supervise remodeling parties. If you are insistent on recruiting your friends and family for remodeling jobs, avoid mistakes by doing the research for the project, make sure your directions are explicitly clear, hire an experienced contractor to supervise, and keep the bar closed until the project is completed.

Real Estate Journal article