As a homeowner thinking about making a change to your home, one of the first questions you should ask yourself is should I DIY this project or hire a contractor? There are a number of factors that go into making this decision. Before you start a DIY project and get in over your head, or hire a contractor for something you later wish you had done yourself, take a few minutes to think about your choice. Check out this list of things to consider when deciding between a do-it-yourself (DIY) project or hiring a contractor.
Should You DIY or Hire a Contractor?
1. Be Realistic About Your Skills
When you’re making the decision to DIY a home improvement project assessing your skills is an important first step. Do you have the skills required to do the job you’re planning to do? If not, do you have an idea about how you can acquire them?
If you have experience doing home repairs and building things you have a better chance of a successful DIY home project.
If you’re planning to learn the skills you need from books or YouTube videos consider whether that is a realistic way to learn the skills you need for your project. For some people, it might be. Especially if you have some skills to build on. But if you’re a total novice, hiring a contractor for your project might be the way to go
If you’re eager to do a DIY project but lack necessary skills, consider doing only parts of the project yourself. There may be things like demolition or paint that you can do while hiring a contractor for more complicated aspects of your project.
2. Consider the Costs
Many people DIY home projects because they want to save money. And a DIY project is going to be cheaper, in theory. But the reality can sometimes be different.
If you lack DIY skills, you risk having to call a contractor to fix mistakes. Doing a project twice is never going to save you money. Mistakes requiring re-dos will likely end up costing you more.
When you do your cost comparison, there are a few additional things to consider. Contractors often get supplies and materials at lower rates than you can buy them yourself. They also usually own their own tools and equipment. If you don’t, those things can add up quickly when you need to purchase or rent them for your DIY project.
3. Evaluate Your Timetable
Before you start a DIY home project, consider your timetable for getting it done. If you're hoping to enjoy your new DIY deck this summer and it’s closing in on the Fourth of July, do you have time to DIY?
Also, consider what other things are happening in your life. Do you have time to do a DIY project? And do you want to spend your after work time and weekends on a home project? Or do you have other commitments that make your DIY dreams unrealistic?
If your home project timeline is open-ended or you find yourself with ample free time, you’re in a better position to choose to do the work on your home yourself.
4. Safety Concerns
One of the biggest concerns with DIY home projects is are they safe? This goes beyond having basic building skills. There are some projects that are always better left to professionals.
In general, if you’re looking at electric, gas, or plumbing work then you need to hire a contractor. This work requires not only a special set of skills, but most work will require permits and meeting specific safety codes.
Another situation where you want to choose a professional contractor is if you plan to make structural changes to your home. Any time you might be affecting the structural integrity of your home, any mistakes could be costly. A contractor can keep your home safe. And they will know when you need to bring in an architect or structural engineer.
5. Do You Even WANT to DIY?
Before committing yourself to a DIY home repair project, consider whether it is something you genuinely want to do. Do you love getting in there, getting your hands dirty, and working on your house? A successful DIY project is uniquely satisfying and fun to show off to friends and family.
If this isn’t you, if the thought of a massive project at home makes you feel stressed, then DIY may not be for you. Consider if you have the patience for a DIY project. Do you get easily frustrated? Or stressed when things don’t go your way? Even if you love the dream of a DIY project, does the reality sound like a good time? If not, hiring a contractor may be the best choice for you.