Remodeling your home is an expensive endeavor. That’s just a fact. One of the best ways to cut down on the cost is by doing the job yourself. You’re only paying for the parts, not the labor. Depending on the job and your skill level, this can be a great idea. But it can also backfire in a terrible way. Maybe you overestimate your level of craftsmanship or underestimate the job itself. But having to hire a professional to fix your mistake will always end up costing more than it would if you had hired them in the first place. Let’s take a look at the best projects for your Average Joe abilities and what’s better left to the pros.
General rule of thumb? If the career of the job requires special training, certification or licensing, always, always, always leave it to the certified professionals. This can be broken down easiest to utilities. Anything major dealing with gas, electric, or plumbing shouldn’t be attempted by regular homeowners. Replacing the ballcock in your toilet, that’s a pretty easy fix. Moving the pipes around so your shower head sits up higher on the wall… please don’t attempt it. Even when it comes to knocking down walls to create an open floor plan – while it seems like anyone can swing a hammer, there are support beams, wires, air ducts, any number of things you could accidentally hit in your free wielding of a sledge hammer that can cause a whole lot of hurt on your wallet.
You’re more than welcome to ask your contractor if you can be part of the demolition (who are we kidding, it’s really fun) but going about it without proper supervision is a risk you really shouldn’t take.
Most appliances and such things come with free installation from home improvement stores. Unless you really have trust issues, this should be a no-brainer. Whether it’s a tub, couch, or new dishwasher, take the help when it doesn’t come at any extra cost. Chances are you’re not used to hauling around cast-iron tubs or sectionals, so do your body a favor and just let the pros handle it, especially if it’s already included in the price.
If you’ve ever participated in a Habitat For Humanity type volunteer project you’ve probably put a new roof on someone’s home or installed better flooring for them. You are, don’t forget, under the supervision of a professional contractor. Things like click-lock flooring are designed for the DIY-er. Carpet, on the other hand, while it seems like an easy feat it requires a lot more finesse and strength you’re not accustomed to and the last thing you want is uneven carpet from air pockets from improper installation. Slapping some new shingles on a roof is doable, you learned from your volunteer work. However, in the end, the warranty and quality satisfaction guarantee you get from a company will kick in if there’s ever an issue. This is something you don’t get when you tackle it yourself.
Keep It Simple Silly
Going back to basic rules of thumb, the simpler the job the more likely you’re competent enough to DIY. Replacing the fixtures in your kitchen or bathroom are small touches that take an afternoon from start to finish. Hanging shelves on your walls to free up floor space, swapping out doors, taking down shutters and painting are all things that make a big difference in your home but don’t require a whole lot of skill. If you don’t have the time or desire to do any of these small tasks you can, of course, hire a professional to get it taken care of while you’re at work. But if you are very budget conscious, carve out a weekend and get it done with your own hands. It’s not the most glamorous way to spend a weekend, but you’ll beam with pride every time you look at the work you accomplished on your own and be happy with the money you saved.
For the more experienced home DIY-er, any job you haven’t tackled first-hand yet can be explained to you by the reps at any home improvement store, or online with video tutorials. Get all the information first and if you still feel confident in your abilities, take a whack at it. Just also be sure to compare the cost of paying for labor vs paying twice for the job as some of the materials won’t be reusable in the fixing of the failed attempt.
Moral of the story? Be wise and go with your gut. But also, be informed and prepared for what lies ahead in each choice.