When Should You DIY a Home Improvement Project & When Should You Hire a Contractor?
Many homeowners like to save money by performing home improvements or repairs themselves. While this can cut labor costs dramatically, it is not always the most appropriate choice. Handy homeowners who have skill or experience with a particular job may already know what to do, which saves them time as well as money. On the other hand, going into a project with little knowledge can result in damage or repairs that cost more than hiring a professional to do it in the first place. With this information, homeowners will know the key factors to consider as they make a decision.
In order to successfully complete a DIY project, homeowners should have a certain baseline level of skill. This does not always translate from one project to another. For example, a homeowner who has laid vinyl flooring may not necessarily know what to do to lay tile or carpet. The ability to evaluate each step and be able to perform it correctly is crucial to the project's success and may require a variety of skills and the use of equipment. People who do not even know where to start are probably better off hiring a professional.
Although skill and experience are related, they are not exactly the same thing. Homeowners may not have experience in the project in question, and that may affect whether they can complete it. Sometimes, related experience can give people a knowledge base from which to figure out each task. For example, someone who knows how to assemble furniture may be able to extend their knowledge into assembling cabinetry kits. Homeowners whose DIY experience is very limited or unrelated to the project at hand might need to decide if they are willing to make some mistakes along the way as they learn.
Because homeowners tend to have less skill, experience, and access to equipment as professionals, it makes sense that the project will take longer. For someone who has a lot of spare time and an interest in developing knowledge, this may not be an important factor. For people who are in a hurry or who do not have extra time to dedicate, delays may be the most important factor. As a general rule, professionals will take the least amount of time from start to finish. This minimizes impact to the rest of the household as well.
Before deciding to take on a project, homeowners need to evaluate whether they are ready and willing to make this kind of commitment. Some people are very ambitious and dedicated and have a high likelihood of finishing every project they start. Others may have interest that outweighs their commitment, which increases the chances that the project may get started but never completed. In that case, homeowners may prefer to hire a professional to ensure that the project will be finished according to the general plan.
Ultimately, having a person who lacks a high level of skill and experience in the project will increase the risk. While many people think of risk in terms of physical danger, there are multiple concerns that homeowners should consider before they take on a DIY project. Tasks that are more dangerous may be better left to a professional. These include:
- Replacing a roof
- Upgrading an electrical panel
- Installing HVAC equipment
Projects with low risk, that people feel all right about investing extra to make repairs, may be better candidates for DIY. If homeowners need the job done correctly the first time, they might prefer the reassurance of hiring a contractor.
There are times when homeowners can do a project themselves, but there are cases when they really should hire a contractor. By evaluating these factors for each project, people can be confident they made the right decision.