Do Your Homework:

Deciding Whether to DIY or Hire a Professional

Deciding whether to take on a home improvement project or hire a professional contractor can hinge on a number of factors, ranging from the size of your budget to your skill level. You need to consider whether permits will be necessary, how much time the project will take, the risk level involved, and the extent of the investment you’ll need to make in order to do the job properly. People often choose to dive into a project without thinking through all of these aspects, and many find themselves in over their head to their great cost and frustration, not understanding that there’s more involved than budget and one’s ability with power tools.


In truth, there’s a great deal more to think about than logistics, skill, and cost when it comes to big projects. Of course, there are many easy and affordable DIY projects for first time home buyers, such as painting, landscaping and installing faux granite countertops. But if it’s anything more involved than that, take your time and think it through carefully.


Are you renovating with the intention of staying in your home, or are you planning to sell your home and renovating to get the most return on investment? Renovating your house can be a very time-consuming project, especially if you’re the only one doing the work. Think through what it means for your personal time. It can be difficult to maintain your motivation level for weeks on end, especially when there are other duties to take care of around the house. There will be days where you’ll feel too tired after work to lift a finger. Or maybe you get frustrated easily when something doesn’t go right. It can be easy to talk yourself into believing that you’re up to the task, so be certain this is something you really want to do before making the commitment.

You should also be honest with yourself about your technical skills. Just because you have a power saw and a kit full of tools doesn’t qualify you to rewire your electricity or make alterations to the plumbing. And don’t underestimate the need to use power tools safely. These days, Youtube can show you how to do a lot of things. Unfortunately, even Youtube can’t help if you’re simply in over your head. Consider discussing the job with a professional ahead of time so that you have a complete picture. There may be details you’re unaware of that can help you make a truly informed decision.

Are you the kind of person who likes rolling up your sleeves and getting dirty? If not, a renovation project that requires you to knock out walls or crawl around under you house probably isn’t going to be for you. You’re likely to face a major clean-up project when it’s all done, which some people would prefer not to deal with. One of the nice things about hiring a contractor is that always clean up once the job is complete.

Strangers in the house

Hiring a contractor means you can expect strangers tromping around your house for days or weeks at a time. If that’s a problem, or if your kids will be nervous, hiring a professional might not be the way to go. You have to put up with the intrusion on days when someone doesn’t feel well, or if you’d rather they’d take the day off. The noise and mess can be a lot to deal with day after day, so make sure that you and your family are up to the imposition.

Be honest about your budget

If you decide to do it yourself, it’s recommended that you set aside more money than you’d originally budgeted for unexpected expenses. You may forget to purchase an essential tool that you’ll need for the job or perhaps you need to buy more supplies than you had originally planned for. Plan for the unexpected!

Be thorough and objective when deciding whether to take on a home improvement project. Ignoring key factors can elevate your costs significantly and cause problems that can turn a one-week job into a month-long ordeal. When it comes to these types of big projects, do your homework so that you can make the right decision.

Article provided by Bret Engle from