DIY vs. Hiring a Contractor for Home Improvement Projects

When Should Homeowners Hire a Contractor?Some home repairs are best left to the professionals. When safety is at risk, or when the job is just too easy to complete incorrectly, it is usually best to hire a contractor. Other jobs are easy for homeowners to complete and will ultimately save them money by doing so. Knowing the difference between these two types of repairs, and being able to identify them before getting started, can help homeowners take care of their home.

Best Home Repairs to DIY

The best home repairs are those that pose no safety risk, require no specialized training, and are unlikely to create lasting damage to the home if the homeowner does the project incorrectly. Some good examples include:

  • Hanging curtains
  • Replacing toilet parts
  • Repairing drywall
  • Painting walls
  • Refinishing a deck
  • Painting a fence

Completing DIY work is a good idea for homeowners who enjoy doing things themselves, have some basic tools, and would like to save money on home repairs.

Signs the Project Shouldn't Be DIY

Sometimes, it can be easy to tell when the home improvement project should not be completed by a homeowner, such as when:

  • The project requires permits.
  • The homeowner would need to spend more on tools than the cost to hire a contractor.
  • The homeowner feels out of their depth.
  • The project is located out of reach (in a tree or on the roof).

Which Home Repairs Are Best for Professionals?

The following projects are some of the best repairs to leave for professionals.

  • Roof work. Roof work can be dangerous (especially if the roof is steeply pitched).
  • Septic tank repair. When the septic tank is damaged, the entire house could be rendered unusable.
  • Sewer repair. Sewers are difficult to reach and require specialized tools to repair.
  • Foundation repair. Foundation repair can result in serious damage to a home if it's done incorrectly, so it's important to work with a contractor who has the right tools.

Not Sure If You Should DIY?

Sometimes, it can be hard to decide whether to hire a contractor or do the project as a DIY. Homeowners who are unsure about what they should do should contact a professional to get information about the project they wish to complete. Asking the contractor the following questions can be helpful:

  • How would you go about doing this project?
  • What tools would you use?
  • What would you do first, second, and so on?
  • What hazards do you think you would encounter while doing this job?
  • How long does this job take?

During this meeting, homeowners can get a sense for how difficult the project would be to do themselves. Sometimes, having this information is enough to convince a homeowner to hire a contractor to do the work. Other times, having this information gives the homeowner the confidence they need to get the work done. Either way, it is important for homeowners to meet with a professional before starting on a home improvement project, as working with a contractor can help the homeowner make their final decision.

Posted by Michael Perna on
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