Hire a Professional vs. Do It Yourself Home Remodels

Ripping up a tile floor

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Home remodeling improves your living environment, your mood, and your house's resale value. One thing it does not improve: your bank account. Many home remodeling projects are startlingly expensive. Doing it yourself can be the solution for financially managing some of these high-ticket projects. But the core question is: should you do it yourself?

You could spend months pondering whether to save money by doing a certain home remodel project by yourself or hiring a professional. It is this paralyzing indecision that trips up so many homeowners. Instead of doing one or the other, they do neither. 

Learn recommendations for some basic home improvement projects and whether or not it is wise to take them on yourself. None of these recommendations are iron-clad. Evaluate your skill level and motivation before you take any of them on.

Do It Yourself

  • Install baseboards
  • Hang drywall
  • Paint interiors
  • Install luxury vinyl or laminate flooring
  • Insulate open walls
  • Fix an outlet
  • Change a ceiling light
  • Install a toilet
  • Install partial PEX plumbing

Hire a Professional

  • Build an addition
  • Pave a driveway
  • Install solid hardwood flooring
  • Install whole-house gutters and drainpipes
  • Heavy-up an electrical service panel
  • Side the entire house
  • Install replacement windows
  • Replumb the entire house

Evaluating Whether You Should DIY or Hire a Pro

More important than simple yes-or-no recommendations for doing a project by yourself or hiring a professional is assessing your skill base, motivation level, and desire to take on a new learning curve:

Some Projects Require Long-Term Motivation

Do you have an uncontrollable desire to knock down interior walls or to renovate an entire kitchen? Or do you find that painting the baby's room one Sunday is quite enough to scratch that home renovation itch? It is important to gauge the longevity of your motivation before you pick up that paintbrush or swing that sledgehammer. Take on some small projects first to make sure you do want to do it yourself before tackling larger projects.

Hiring Professionals Means Having Strangers in Your Home

Subcontractors are in your house to help you, but in the process, they turn your house upside-down. And managing work crews in your house is a taxing proposition. Do not underestimate the soul-draining imposition of workers hanging drywall, painting, installing floors, rewiring service panels, or moving interior walls for week after week. Decide how much lack of control in your house you can tolerate before inviting workers in.

Honestly Assess Your Skill Level

With the glut of home remodeling advice out there, it's easy for most homeowners to learn how to do almost any project. A person who barely knows how to plug in a blender can be capable of learning how to run wiring in a kitchen. However, remember that your kitchen is your classroom. While you learn to distinguish ground wires from neutral, the kitchen is a disaster and you are washing sinks with a garden hose on the lawn. Make certain you are at the proper skill level or can learn quickly enough, to bring the project to a conclusion. If not, you risk dragging a two-day project into a three-week mess.

Assess How Much Time You Have

Tiling the bathroom when you have no job is one thing. Tiling the bathroom at 9:30 pm after a full day of conference calls is another thing. And remember, you also have a life to lead. Know in advance how much time you want to put into a project before starting it.

Be Honest About Your Love for Getting Dirty

Sometimes it seems like 90 percent of home remodeling is demolition. You spend three days ripping up the old kitchen floor and one day installing the new one. Other tasks that do not involve demolition can still be messy, such as painting your house exterior with a paint sprayer. Home remodeling is almost always inordinately dirty. If you cannot stand the mess, this is reason enough to hire a pro for a project.

Wisely Calculate Your Funding

Money, or lack of it, motivates the home renovation do-it-yourselfer. While there is a certain satisfaction in replacing your front door by yourself or laying a new kitchen floor, most do-it-yourselfers would hire out if they had enough money to do so. If you have the money and the project looks infinitely difficult, consider hiring a pro.

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