Knowing when to tackle a home improvement project yourself or hire a pro depends largely on your finances and your skill level. When you hire a pro, you’re getting years of experience and a truckload of professional tools. On the other hand, it’s rewarding doing the work yourself. Before you decide, consider the entire scope of the project, from the tools you’ll need to the time and effort necessary to properly complete it.
Work or renovation that involves disturbing products containing lead or asbestos can be very hazardous. It may be illegal for you to do the work yourself on a commercial building, or even if you run a business (such as a daycare) out of your home. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends that you hire certified professionals if there’s a danger of releasing lead or asbestos. Contact your regional EPA office.
Some home improvement projects, such as roofing and gutter installation, exterior painting and masonry involve either working on ladders or high up on a roof. Some jobs require you to do a lot of heavy lifting — a pack of roof shingles or a bag of cement can easily weigh 80 pounds each. In order to do this type of work, you have to not only be physically fit and comfortable with heights, but committed to working safely and realizing the potentially serious risks.
Consider your skill level. If you make a mistake while painting a bedroom or laying vinyl tile, it’s not that difficult to fix — and the only consequence to not fixing poor work is an unprofessional-looking job. However, making a mistake while replacing wiring, installing new plumbing or repairing a furnace can have much more serious consequences.
You can use tools you already own or are inexpensive to purchase for many do-it-yourself home improvement projects. Some tasks may require equipment rental or mandate purchasing expensive tools. If you’re basing your decision on purely economic factors, crunch the numbers first. A professional repair person already has all of the tools and materials necessary for your project, while you may need to buy tools, purchase a box of nails when you only need a dozen of them, and pick up, learn to use, then return rental equipment.
If you plan on selling your home in the foreseeable future, consider the ramifications of a less-than-professional kitchen cabinet installation job or sloppy exterior paint job. Unprofessional-looking work can lower your home’s value and make it less attractive to potential buyers.
If you’ve decided that you can tackle the project after all, you’ll not only save money but will also have a sense of pride and accomplishment in your work. You will learn on the job. Once you’ve tackled the installation of a door, you may decide to build your own deck or lay a hardwood floor. Knowing how to do at least some of your own home repair projects is a valuable skill.