DIY Projects: When to Ask for Help
Homeowners, like most people, typically like to save money. The urge to save may lead you to be tempted to reconstruct that retaining wall or replace some rotting siding by the deck out back. You should proceed with caution, though. While some "DIY" projects are healthy for your budget and even wise as you build your skills as a homeowner, biting off more than you can chew can be costly for your time and money if you get in over your head.
DIY Projects in the Age of YouTube
YouTube is an incredible resource at our fingertips, especially when it comes to "do-it-yourself" projects. There are myriad tutorials on Youtube that run the spectrum of home fixes, from fixing that dysfunctional water heater to laying your own hardwood floors. Armed with a smartphone or a tablet, you may feel like you can take on any "DIY" project. Fixing the busted auger belt in the snow blower? Installing a vent in the spare bathroom? Bring it on! The world is your oyster!
It’s Just Time and Money, Right?
Maybe you "DIY" to save money or time, or maybe because you don’t like dealing with contractors. What happens when you find out that renting a floor sander, buying sealer, finish, stain, and everything else needed for your project will cost nearly as much as hiring a contractor? When you factor in the day or three you’ll need off from work, is paying a bit more for a professional the right choice? How do you decide when to "DIY" and when to hire it out to a contractor or specialist?
Gauge the Difficulty of the Job (For You, Not Everyone Else)
If you helped your dad roof houses during high school, roofing will be easier for you than for the next aspiring "DIYer". Generally, though, the average homeowner will likely manage home maintenance tasks like painting interior walls, doing seasonal yard maintenance, and taking on "DIY" craft projects that add a personal touch to home décor. Sure, you can hire these jobs out, but wouldn’t you rather save that money for tougher home projects that need a professional touch?
Beware Major House Surgery
Large projects take time … and turns. Tearing down walls, shoring up foundation walls, rewiring your house… these projects don't happen overnight. If the project is large and/or requires getting into your home’s major systems, you probably want to start looking at general contractors. Plus, there’s a reason plumbers and electricians have bonds, insurance, and licenses. Mistakes happen. When they do, they cost time and money. Hire pros who know how to avoid them.
Does the town want to know what you’re doing?
If your project requires a permit, it’s probably best left to the pros. Installing a fence, windows, or making structural changes to your home almost always needs a permit. You’ll likely need to acquire a permit for plumbing and electrical work, too. Don't gamble on a potentially expensive, time-consuming improvement: hire an expert.
There’s no shame in asking for help. Sometimes you know the project is above your level of know-how, and, other times, you find out mid-way through just as the dust settles. Call in the experts to do the job, finish the job, or even fix damage from your well-intentioned "DIY" efforts.
Save your time and money for the "DIY" projects you know that you can do. For everything else, hire a professional contractor. You'll thank us later!