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In most homeowners’ minds there is a constant back and forth between wanting to do it yourself (DIY) or hiring a professional to undertake the remodels – especially when home improvements can vastly increase the value of your home.

Many people have a romantic view of DIY – sitting in the middle of a hardwood floor eating pizza and drinking wine after painting the whole room. Feeling satisfied and accomplished in your work. The reality can be quite different – holes in the wall that you can’t fix, water flooding down the bathroom sink, or short-circuiting the whole house – these can all be a reality if you decide to tackle the work yourself.

Many projects are left to the pros – even though it will cost more in dollars, most people won’t consider the speed at which a pro can complete it, the amount of time that you would spend doing the job, and going back and forth to the hardware store and the dangers if you get it wrong. It could cost more to fix a botched job than the original cost of getting a pro to do it in the first place.

Whether you’re deciding to fix up a full house or just remodeling a room, think long and hard before deciding whether to DIY or pay a professional.


What Projects Should I Try To Do Myself?

You Can Learn Quickly Because The Project Is Small

Before you start any home improvement job there is a certain amount of research that you should undertake. Even if it is as simple as painting your deck you can start by watching some tutorials on YouTube, read about the pros and cons of different paints, and then look at what brush and technique work best. Spending a little time upfront could save you hours in the long run. If you’re willing to follow the step-by-step guide you could finish a project with not too much stress.


You Won’t Get Sidetracked by Small Mistakes

It is inevitable that you will make mistakes. Even the pros make mistakes. The writer of this article took so many trips back and forth to the hardware store that they lost track. Things will take longer than you anticipate and be more expensive than you expect. And that’s even if you don’t make mistakes. Even when painting you might get some paint on your carpet, which then needs to be steamed, which then means you need a steamer, which means you go back to the store. Everything ends at Home Depot. But in all seriousness, it will take a long time and you will make mistakes. Make sure you’re ok with going through things time and time again without losing your patience.


You See Home Repair As Fun, A Hobby, or a Pastime

You might love doing home renovations, or you want to learn. If you’re willing to lean in to the learning and improve your skills then it could be for you. Maybe you want to get good at it so that you can move on to bigger projects. This is ok and could even make the process fun instead of frustrating.


Good Enough is Good Enough For You

You’re not a professional tradesperson, and that’s ok. DIY is about managing your own expectations as it is doing a professional job. Sometimes you will finish a piece of work and think that you’ll never be able to live with it – trust us you will. There will probably always be a gap between what you see in your mind, and what you will end up with. Especially if it’s your first project. Being ok with good enough is a key trait to a DIYer.


You Have Enough Energy to Finish The Project

We suggest that you start with a small project because not only do you not know how long it will take, but you also don’t know how much energy it will take. Renovations are exhausting both mentally and physically. When you’re in your fifth week of a two-week project and you need to visit the hardware store again, this is what can really test your endurance. We would always suggest starting with something manageable – paint a room instead of the whole house (for example). Not only will you get this finished quicker than the whole house (giving you a sense of accomplishment) you can hone your skills to then hopefully speed up the rest of the project (if you do decide to paint the rest of the house.


When Is It Better To Pay Someone To Do The Work?

Making a Mistake Would Cause Significant Issues

At the top of the list of errors is any DIY error that would make the home unsafe. Faulty electrical wiring could cause a fire, poor plumbing could cause a flood. These kinds of projects are rarely worth doing yourself unless you have some previous experience. If there is any chance that it will impact your family’s wellbeing then it is probably worth outsourcing to a reputable contractor. They will need to have insurance and offer a range of warranties for the work that they do. This means that if they mess up they’ll have to fix it or pay for the problem to be fixed.


Wiring is something that should usually be left up to the pros. If you don’t know what you are doing you can get electrocuted.


If You Only Have One…

If you’re buying your first condo then you might only have one bathroom – in fact, this is very likely. If you are renovating the bathroom you should think carefully about having a professional do it. If your bathroom goes out of commission for even a week it could make living in the condo very uncomfortable. Even if a professional does the job it might still take time to get it done and so you should think about what your contingency could be when the toilet or shower isn’t working.


You Need Permits for The Renovation

In many areas and localities around the country, you’ll need to get a permit for structural, electrical and other major work that needs to be done. Before you decide to start this work you should contact your local city government to find out which remodel licenses are needed in the area. You can also ask local contractors which licenses will be needed as they will be familiar with working with different types of permits. If a permit is needed it will usually need specialized knowledge which means you’ll probably need to bring in a professional.


Your Time is Worth More Than the Time Spent on the Project

Sometimes your time is more valuable than the money that you will save doing the project. It could be a straight calculation – your day rate is higher than the amount you’ll spend each day on the professionals. If this is the case, and you’d be losing other work by doing the DIY yourself, then it might be worth paying someone and you make money through your own work.


You Want To Sell Your House Soon

We spoke earlier about being ok with ‘good enough’ when it comes to DIY. This can be absolutely fine if you are going to live in the house for a while after doing the renovations. If you are thinking of selling after the renovations are done then you might want to go with a professional. Anyone who is moving into the house will be very discerning and might not want to live with the imperfections that you were fine with because you did the work.

Richard Allan

Richard Allan

Richard Allan is the founder of Capital Bean and a passionate writer about personal finance, budgeting and how to save money at home and work.

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