When to Do It Yourself and When to Call in the Pros
Let’s face it: there’s no shortage of DIY home repair and renovation information on TV, in magazines, and certainly online. In fact, tune in to HGTV any time of the day or night and you can immerse yourself in home remodeling projects and the brave folks who attempt them.
Sometimes the whole process goes smoothly, and the results are simply breathtaking. (Who knew the wood from that old barn door would make a great fireplace mantel?) More often than not, however, we’re seeing homeowners who attempted a major (or even minor) DIY project, ran into budget-busting complications, and, now frustrated and angry, are tempted to leave the whole mess behind and hitchhike through Europe.
Rest assured, there’s a middle ground. Whether you soldier through a DIY project to get to the finish line, are thinking of waving the white flag and bringing in a professional to finish the job, or just don’t know which way to turn — we have some tips to help you reach a decision that will make you happy.
The Case for DIY
You want to save money. This is arguably the No. 1 reason homeowners attempt a DIY project. And it’s not to be downplayed. In addition to eliminating the obvious labor costs that a professional brings, you can also avoid the markup on materials that contractors often charge.
You’ve done something like this before—and don’t regret it. If you’ve tiled one bathroom in your life, chances are you can tackle another, even if it’s a bigger space or more complex design. Plus, you already have the tools.
You want it to be on your schedule. How comfortable do you feel having contractors in your house all day while you’re at the office? Or, if you work from home, hearing jackhammers while you’re on a conference call? Remember, their work hours are the same as yours. Taking on a project yourself means you get to call the shots about when the work gets done.
You’ve watched someone else do what you’re attempting—and are excited, not petrified. If you ever watched someone replace a toilet or hang new cabinet doors in the kitchen and felt confident you could do it too, that’s a good sign that there’s some DIY talent in you. Nothing will teach you faster than getting your hands on a project and learning to do it yourself. If that thought, however, makes you break out in a sweat, you may want to seek a professional contractor.
The Case for Bringing in the Pros
You’ve hit a major roadblock. If, during a bathroom renovation, you discover that the old exhaust fan vents into the attic rather than outside as it should—and you don’t quite know how to cut a hole in the roof of your house—this is a good time to call in a pro. In other words, if an unforeseen complication threatens to derail your progress (and bank account) let a skilled contractor come in to fix the problem before it gets worse and winds up costing you more money.
The work requires a permit and inspections. Sure, you can visit town hall and obtain a construction permit and even schedule those inspections, but are you up to speed on what the building code requirements are in your town? Professional contractors deal with these issues every day and understand what inspectors are expecting to see when they check in on a project’s progress.
The time/money equation is skewed. If the time demands of a renovation project mean you’re spending fewer hours with your family or routinely begging off invitations from friends on the weekend, it’s time for a quick math check. It may make more sense to pay a professional to do the job so that you can have a life when you’re not at the office all week.
You value family harmony. Nothing makes otherwise loving families get on each other’s nerves faster than when a DIY home renovation project is taking too long or is completely stalled. Dealing with a professional means you get a contract that spells out the scope of the work, the price, and a date for when the job will be done. Sure, it may go over by a few days or even a week. But since most renovation contracts stipulate final payment only upon completion of the job, you know it’s going to get done. That leaves you and your spouse more time to worry about the important things—like what color to paint the kitchen.