When to DIY and When to Hire a Contractor

NOTE: This is a special guest post by Darlene Mase of Zumper, a housing and apartment website. She’s sharing her tips on when to DIY, or “do it yourself,” and when to reach out to a professional contractor or tradesman to work on your remodeling project. You can read more of her posts at https://www.zumper.com/blog/. Thanks Darlene!

When you purchase a home, a mortgage payment isn’t your only concern. There’s homeowners’ insurance, utilities, property taxes, and, of course, repairs. With an abundance of DIY television networks, YouTube videos, and Pinterest tutorials, we might sometimes be tempted to save a few dollars and do home repair work ourselves. However, it’s important that we don’t overestimate our abilities lest we find ourselves in over our heads and past the point of no return. Granted, while there are tons of DIY home repairs that are fairly easy, there are other times when it’s a good idea to hire a contractor. Deciding if something is a DIY remodel or if hiring a contractor is necessary is pretty simple, and we’re here to help you make the decision.

Do hire a contractor if there is a high level of risk involved

I’m pretty confident in your ability to replace the hardware in your kitchen, change a cabinet door, and even paint an accent wall. Easy. No problem. Piece of cake. However, there are riskier jobs where hiring a contractor might be a good idea. Electrical jobs are a prime example. One wrong move and you could zap yourself into oblivion or set your house ablaze, so in instances like this, it’s almost always best to hire a contractor.

Don’t hire a contractor if you’re short on cash

Again, if a job could kill you (like roofing or electrical work), it’s a good idea to hire a contractor. However, there are other things, like refinishing cabinets, insulating the attic, and painting the walls that you could do yourself. Anytime you hire a contractor, it’s going to be more expensive than completing the project yourself, and most of the costs you are going to incur are labor costs. If you can easily accomplish a task without killing yourself or wrecking your home, go for it; do it yourself.

Do hire a contractor if a permit is required

Generally speaking, if a remodel or renovation requires a permit, it is a pretty big undertaking and too complicated for a DIY project. Building permits are documents provided by a governing agency that allows you or a contractor to proceed with construction or remodeling on your property. The purpose of a building permit is to ensure that the project complies with local standards for land use, safety, zoning, and construction. Even if you’re able to secure a permit without a problem, the mere fact that you need one might be indication enough that perhaps you should hire a contractor.

Don’t hire a contractor if the job is simple

Don’t hire a contractor out of laziness. Some jobs, though they require a bit of effort, are simple enough that you can do on your own. You can save a good chunk of change by tiling a small area, installing a kitchen backsplash, and even laying down some linoleum or vinyl flooring yourself.

Do hire a contractor if you’re short on time

A contractor likely has a crew that he or she can call and can tackle even the largest of remodels in a few weeks’ time. However, should you decide a DIY remodel, you will be doing all the work yourself or, if you’re lucky, with the help of friends and family. But if you’re on a tight schedule (like trying to sell your house, for example), you’re better off hiring a contractor. That way, you can rest assured the job will be completed in a timely manner.

Don’t hire a contractor if you haven’t shopped around

Many people are quick to pull the trigger without exercising prior due diligence. Before retaining the services of a contractor, it’s important to do a little research first. Most contractors offer free estimates, so call around and find the best deal. You also want someone with good reviews. If you’ve heard about someone by word of mouth, then they’re usually a pretty safe bet, but if you’re just shopping around online, you’ll want to read reviews from previous customers and check out their standing with the Better Business Bureau.

Do hire a contractor if specialized skills are required

Licensed welders, plumbers, electricians, and HVAC technicians are generally required to hold some sort of degree or certification from a trade school. That’s because these types of professions require specialized skills that can’t be easily learned via a YouTube tutorial. If you’re trying to replace the plumbing in your house, put in a new air conditioning unit, or modify your home’s wiring, it’s best to hire a contractor and let the pros do it.

DIY projects leave you with a sense of accomplishment, and sometimes they can even be fun. If your home is in need of a repair or remodel and completing that project is well within your skill set, go for it. Hit the hardware store and run wild. However, there are certain tasks that are simply too dangerous or too complicated. In situations like these, hiring a contractor, though more expensive at the onset, can keep you from ruining your home, killing yourself, or having to pay someone to properly complete the project after you’ve done it and failed.

Author’s Bio:

Darlene Mase lives in Newnan, Georgia with her husband and daughter. She is a stay-at-home mom and works as a freelance writer for Zumper.com and other popular sites. During her free time, Darlene enjoys traveling, hiking, camping, cycling, gardening, caving, kayaking, or anything else outdoors.