Remodeling your home yourself can be immensely satisfying and can add to the value of your property. You can tackle many home improvement projects yourself, but some are best left to professionals.
Generally, if you have time, the project is safe and you enjoy renovation projects, you can do the project yourself. If it’s dangerous, complicated or needs to be finished in a tight time frame, consider hiring a professional.
Here are five things to keep in mind when deciding between doing it yourself (DIY) and hiring a professional.
1. Is your time or money more valuable?
Labor is one of the most expensive aspects of home repairs, far exceeding the cost of materials for small jobs. Expect contractors to cost about 10% to 15% more than the expense of materials for most projects1. For small projects, consider their hourly rates and minimum charges.
Because of the high cost of labor, if your project is relatively simple or if you can take your time, consider doing the job yourself. Painting or installing tile throughout a new addition are two examples of good DIY projects. Riskier projects, like connecting the wiring to the circuit box or moving plumbing, may be better left to professionals.
2. Do you enjoy DIY projects?
If painting a room feels like a mini-vacation or you love the smell of sawdust in the morning, all sorts of DIY projects are waiting for you. But if you’re not the hands-on type yet, choose small, simple DIY projects to start. Painting, caulking and installing faucets, for example, are all easy starter projects with minimal frustration levels. As your confidence increases, you can take on more challenging renovations.
3. Do you have the DIY experience?
Learning while doing is fine for many projects. Removing wallpaper, sanding, rehanging doors, adding molding and replacing faucets are low-risk and easy to learn. Other projects may seem simple but if done inexpertly may look unprofessional. Drywall taping, spackling and texturing all require expertise for flawless results. For those projects, work alongside an experienced friend or professional to learn the fine points so you can tackle those jobs on your own in the future.
4. How dangerous is the project?
Falls are one of the most common reason for emergency room visits. If you decide to take on work that is high off the ground, be certain the ladder or scaffolding is assembled and positioned properly. Likewise, with electrical projects like replacing outlets or switches, turn off the circuit breakers and then test the wires with a voltmeter before beginning work. Generally, if the work is dangerous, leave it to the professionals. If you decide to do the work yourself, check out these safety tips for home renovation projects.
5. Do you have the tools?
The bigger the project, the more tools and materials you’ll need. You can buy or rent a wide variety of tools from home supply stores. Specialty equipment, including high lifts and concrete tools, is available from equipment rental companies. Before starting your renovation, develop a list of tools you’ll need to add to your collection, determining which you should buy and which you should rent.
If the tools and materials you need won’t fit in your vehicle, you can either have them delivered or rent a truck to haul them home. Home centers often offer small-truck rentals for their customers.
Home improvement projects have gotten easier over the years with innovative products and DIY videos that make doing it yourself a smart choice. But some jobs are still best left to the experts.
In deciding which is which, know what you can realistically accomplish. Then, when you’re done, remember to update your homeowners insurance policy to reflect your home’s new value.