When determining whether to DIY common home remodeling and improvement projects or whether you should hire a professional, the first consideration should be safety. Even if you think you understand how to tackle the project, some jobs are simply unsafe for homeowners with little to no construction experience to handle. Next comes money. Consider which option is more cost-effective overall. The answer will depend on the type and complexity of the project, as well as your level of skill and available time to work on the project. Here’s a list of everything you should consider before deciding to hire yourself for your remodeling needs.
Skip DIYing jobs that require a permit
If a remodeling project requires a special permit or building code compliance, experts advise bringing in a professional instead of attempting to DIY because it typically means safety is an issue and training is required. “Once you’re changing the footprint of a house, updating wiring, and adding fences (because municipalities usually have height restrictions), you need a permit—which means you should probably call a contractor pronto,” says Realtor.com. Also, some repair projects, such as HVAC, can sometimes require special licenses.
Don’t think you can skip getting a permit if you DIY. For starters, if an inspector sees you working on the project, or is notified by a neighbor, he or she could halt your project. Also, any unpermitted work must be disclosed when selling, which can make buyers wary of purchasing the home and cause some banks to refuse to approve the buyers’ financing.
Even if you have some plumbing, electrical, and carpentry skills, certain home projects are best handled by professionals. For example, some plumbing jobs can result in expensive home damage or serious injury if improperly performed, and there’s serious room for mistakes. Replacing a bathtub and pipe replacement are jobs that seem less complicated than they really are. Mistakes can cost you time and money. Leaks or bursts can cause water damage, and even a small mistake can ruin the pipe you buy. If you make mistake at any point, you have to start over from the beginning. A professional will charge around $2,500 to $3,500 to remove your old tub, install the one, and handle any plumbing issues.
In about two days, you may be able to install your own kitchen backsplash for around $100 to $500, so it may not make sense to pay an additional $300 to $800 to hire a professional, assuming you’re handy enough to get the job done yourself. However, you shouldn’t attempt to DIY an entire kitchen remodel. According to HomeAdvisor, the average price for a kitchen remodel is approximately $22,000. Not only does the remodel often involve plumbing, but also cabinets, countertops, sinks, and appliances are expensive; a mistake that damages any of these can lead to costly replacements or repairs. Also, having an eye for design can take the remodel from acceptable in to incredible.
Flooring is hard, literally and figurative
Installing hardwood floors is another project that should be left to professionals. This is less of a safety issue and more of a cost issue. Hardwood costs $3 to $8 per square foot for materials, so a mistake during installation can be costly. Similarly, installing ceramic tile can have costly mistakes if DIYed and a professional can handle common issues like design, corners, room transitions, and uneven subfloors. Because installing replacement windows has expensive materials and a large room for error, it should also be left to the pros.
Painting and other light remodeling projects
Of course, there are plenty of remodeling projects that homeowners can tackle on their own. For example, many homeowners successfully handle painting their home’s interiors. Painting 1,500 square foot costs about $200 to $600 if you DIY, compared to $970 to $2,400 for professional work. Many homeowners can also handle installing vinyl or linoleum flooring. A 10×10 room costs roughly $200 to $500, while a professional can add on $300 to $400 more. Adding a wood deck can be a great DIY project for someone with a few carpentry skills, costing $500 to $1,000 for a 10×12 deck. A pro may charge between $1,500 and $1,900.
When deciding if you should DIY or hire a professional, consider the cost of materials and the skill level and time need to complete the project properly. Remember to “choose caution over cost,” says Investopedia. If you hire a professional, be sure to get more than one estimate. Once you have researched your options, you can feel comfortable knowing that you made a sound investment in your home.