Home Improvements: When Should You DIY and When Should You Hire Help?

Thinking about making a list of DIY home improvement projects? Here's what to consider to ensure things go smoothly.The creation of Pinterest has brought about a whole new generation of DIYers.

Whether you just bought a home that needs some renovations or are looking to freshen up a home you’ve been in for a while, you’ve probably spent countless hours browsing Pinterest boards for DIY ideas.

As a homeowner myself, I always get excited when the weather starts warming up as spring and summer are the time of year when I finally get motivated to work on my home improvement projects.

Although it can be fun, and oftentimes more cost-efficient to DIY, there are still times when professional help is a must.

That begs the question: how do you know when to DIY and when to hire help for your home improvement projects?

Here are some things to consider before taking on a home improvement project yourself.

Consider Your Skills

Before you even evaluate your skills, you should ask yourself if this project is something you’ll enjoy doing. If you aren’t someone who likes to get a little dirty with physical labor, then DIY probably isn’t for you.

Even more important than that, however, is knowing whether or not you have the skillset to accomplish the task.

Although an energetic can-do attitude is helpful when starting a project, to be successful you have to have the right knowledge and tools.

To figure that out, ask around. Talk to friends who have done something similar or the staff at home improvement stores to get an idea of what you’re getting into. Then, consult how-to articles and figure out each step you’ll have to complete for your project.

Keep in mind that depending on the project, you may have to consult building codes to make sure you’re complying with all the laws.

Are all the tasks associated with the project things you’ve done or know you can handle? If so, great, you can DIY your home improvement project.

However, if something takes an expert hand, years of knowledge, or you know nothing about it and aren’t bound to know anything about it soon, then you may want to rethink the DIY method and hire a professional.

In the end, it will cost you less to hire a professional from the beginning instead of attempting to DIY as you might be forced to hire a professional to fix costly mistakes.

Know the Risk

One of the best ways to determine whether or not a project is DIY friendly is to evaluate the risk involved.

If at any point the project you’re looking to tackle could put you in serious danger, going with a professional is going to be your best option.

There are lots of elements to your home that professionals have years of technical skill and experience with, and when certain jobs are done wrong, the results can be deadly.

Projects that involve any electric repair or installation should definitely be left to the professionals. Not only could you start an electrical fire, but you could run the risk of electrocution.

Furthermore, any job that involves extensive or large plumbing work isn’t a DIY project, either. Any time you’re dealing with pipes and your existing plumbing system, a simple error could cause a small leak, and even the smallest leak can cause thousands in water damage.

Moreover, any project that requires work on your AC or heating system should be left alone. Your HVAC has a combination of dangerous elements from oil to natural gas to electricity – all elements you shouldn’t tamper with. If you don’t know what you’re doing, you run the risk of seriously injuring yourself.

One last rule of thumb: if a task requires a permit, you may want to reconsider doing it yourself. Permits are required for safety and even if you do get one, you may want to consider your options based on the risk associated with the project.

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Figure the Costs

The cost of doing a project yourself or hiring a professional really depends on the job, which is why you should figure out all costs beforehand.

If you already have a majority of the tools the job requires, or you can borrow or rent them, choosing to DIY may be the less expensive option, as you won’t have to include any labor costs that would likely be included with a contractor or hired professional.

However, if you know you’ll have to buy some tools and materials for your project, be sure to make a complete list of everything you’ll need and price it out.

If you decide to hire a professional, it’s a good idea to get quotes from multiple professionals for the same project. Depending on the total cost of supplies, you may find that it’s actually cheaper to hire a professional even with cost of labor rather than doing it yourself.

This is especially true depending on the materials you need. Professional contractors can often purchase materials at a discounted rate. But don’t forget that you might be able to lend a hand to the contractor to help lower their labor costs even if you can’t DIY the whole project.

Evaluate Your Time

One of the greatest things people fail to consider before starting a home improvement project is the time it’s going to take and whether or not they even have the time to devote to it.

You more than likely have a job and various other responsibilities that require your attention. Unfortunately, this often means that certain projects fall to the wayside and can end up taking much longer than you expected.

That being said, that time alone can sometimes cost you money depending on the job. For example, if you’re doing a kitchen remodel and can’t use the space for weeks or months, then you’ll probably spend a ton of money dining out.

Also consider when you purchased or rented certain materials and tools as you may need to keep paying for them until the job is finished.

Sometimes, the amount of time you have to invest in a task isn’t worth it or feasible for your life, and in such cases, hiring a professional may save you money.

Completing a home improvement project yourself can be a fun and rewarding experience. However, contrary to popular belief, not everything is a DIY job.

It’s always important to carefully evaluate every project from the time it will take, to the skill level it requires, to the overall cost, and then decide from there whether you should tackle it yourself or enlist the help of a professional.

Have you complete any home improvement projects yourself? Did it go as expected, or do you wish you would have hired a professional?