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DIY or Hire a Pro?

Some home projects are easy to DIY. Others? Not so much.

Inviting contractors into your home for renovations can be a costly endeavor and can also involve its share of inconveniences. Most homeowners dread the thought of having to navigate around work crews for weeks or months at a stretch. So it’s not surprising that many property owners decide to tackle renovation projects on their own. But is that a smart thing for your home value?

Here’s how to know if and when you should DIY or hire a pro.

Be honest about your DIY skills.

First, make an honest assessment of your skills and abilities related to home improvement and maintenance tasks. Your home is often your largest financial asset. If you don’t have the talent or training to improve it responsibly, it’s not worth the risk. Trying to tackle challenging projects that are way beyond your skill set may result in wasting time and money—and may end up costing you more in the long run if a contractor must later undo some of the work you did incorrectly.

Also be sure to consider your available time. Home renovation and improvement projects are notorious for requiring more time than you anticipate. That’s time you won’t be able to spend with your family, and this may also involve taking time off from work. Once you run the numbers, you may realize that you could be better off financially spending that time at work and hiring a contractor to do the work.

Evaluate the safety risks.

When deciding whether to DIY or hire a pro, consider how risky the project may be. Some projects have a low safety risk. You (probably) won’t end up in the hospital installing a new floating shelf. But installing a new light fixture is a different story. Anything related to electricity, plumbing, your roof, your HVAC system, or any hazardous materials like mold, asbestos, or lead paint should be left to the pros. Not only are they financially costly, but they could be risk your health as well.

Determine your budget.

DIY projects are an appealing option for those on a limited budget or those who want to stretch their available funds as much as possible. Many homeowners opt to use a home equity line of credit (HELOC) to help finance repair or home improvement projects. If you don’t have access to funds, but really need a project completed, DIY might be the best choice—especially if you own a fixer-upper that will require ongoing projects. To be sure though, cost out the entire DIY project from beginning to end, from any training you might need to all the tools and materials. You may find that doing it yourself will save a bundle—or you may realize calling a pro is actually the better deal.

Know which projects are DIY-able.

Even the most experienced DIYer hires out for some projects. But others are relatively easy tasks to do yourself. Here are a few common DIY projects:

Demolition before major contract work

Painting, sanding, and staining

Kitchen backsplash installation

Hanging shelves, pegboards, and other decor

Installing hardware, like cupboard and drawer pulls, bathroom towel rods, shower curtain rods, and toilet paper holders

Faucet installation


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