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When you’re planning a home remodeling or improvement project, one of the most difficult parts is deciding whether you should bring in a professional or attempt to DIY. Homeowners can easily handle some projects, while others should always be left to the pros. Some projects fall somewhere in the middle and depend on your skill level, schedule, and budget. When deciding in which category your project falls, consider three points: safety, difficulty, or time.
Safety and Difficulty
It’s important to follow DIY safety tips closely and to be realistic in choosing whether a project is the right fit for you in the first place. There are three major signs that a job is too dangerous for DIYers. Before starting, consider what the worst outcome would be if you made a mistake. If the answer is you could die, don’t DIY. Electrical work and roofing would fall into this category. If the answer is it could destroy your home, don’t DIY. Major plumbing jobs fall into this category. Another warning sign is that it requires a building permit, which is a document that guarantees a construction job was done safely. A project that requires a permit is probably too complicated for most DIYers.
Before even attempting to tackle a project, you have to know how it’s done, and that means every step. A lack of experience isn’t necessarily a deal breaker though. To see if you could figure out how to do it, read a blog, checkout a book, or watch a tutorial video. While you can probably figure out simple repair jobs, such as fixing a leaky faucet, no amount of research can prepare you for jobs that are highly specialized and require years of training to handle, such as moving plumbing fixtures.
Even if your project checks off for the safety test, bringing in a professional is often a good idea because mistakes can be costly. If a project goes awry, you could need to call a contractor to fix your mistakes, meaning you end up paying for the same job paying twice. Also, a substandard job can turn off potential buyers if you try to sell your home. “Even the priciest bathroom tile looks cheap if it’s poorly laid,” warns Money Crashers.
Time and Money
Many people choose to DIY because they think it’ll save them a lot of money. While it’s true that labor is typically the most expensive portion of a project, many people don’t consider the time it’ll take. Typically, the more professionals charge for a job, the more time it takes, and if it takes them a long time, it’ll take you even longer. Determine if it’s worth it to you by estimating the cost and the time involved for DIY versus professionals, as well as what you’d be earning if someone were paying you on a per-hour basis.
Getting quotes from contractors is the most accurate way to determine the cost and timeframe of professional work, but you can also get an estimate online based on the job you want done and your ZIP code.
Next, figure out the DIY numbers, including costs of materials, tools, and permits. Get your total and subtract it from the cost of a professional job to see how much you can save. Finding out the timeframe is more difficult, as it depends on your experience and skill level. However, home-repair books and websites often give estimates of how long a job usually takes based on your skill level. Divide the cost by the estimated timeframe time to find out your hourly rate, and decide if you’re willing to work for that wage.
Deciding between DIYing and bringing in a professional isn’t just about the money. You’ll also need to consider the time, effort, difficulty, quality, and safety. Regardless of the decision you make, be sure to make a knowledgeable decision. Research to find quality contractors with good reviews if you bring in a professional, and read as many resources as possible before DIYing.
Seth Murphy loves hands-on DIY projects and sharing what he has learned with others. He started PapaDIY to help others make their home DIY projects a success.