How to Decide to DIY or Hire a Pro
Determine which home improvement projects are best left to professionals
By Stevie Donald
There's great satisfaction in completing a DIY project, whether it's repairing an appliance, painting your hose or building a deck. Then there are times when it's advisable to hire a pro for all or part of a job. Some jobs require expensive equipment, while others can be dangerous for the novice. How to decide whether you want to go it alone or hire a pro requires an honest assessment of your abilities and your budget.
- What You Need to Know
- Your own knowledge of your building skills, your budget and the difficulty level of the job are the main indicators for either doing it yourself or for hiring a professional contractor.
- Detailed plans and the ability to operate power tools safely and effectively will also be a factor in making your decision.
Consider your budget. If your sole reason for making this a DIY project is because you don't think you can afford a pro, take into account the tools and materials you'll need for the job. You may find that you'll spend as much to get the job done as it would be to hire someone.
Assess your comfort level with working on ladders if the job requires high work. According to the National Ag Safety Database (NASD) preventable injuries and deaths from ladder accidents are common. Consider hiring a pro for high ladder work or roofing if you don't have the experience or the equipment.
Make sure you have time to complete the project. Plan on it taking longer than expected, because it probably will as you run into inevitable complications and take extra time to learn techniques and tools.
Ask a friend or neighbor to help you. Some jobs require two people and if you can find someone who has some experience it can make the decision to do it yourself easier to make. If you don't have someone to help you, consider hiring a pro, at least for the more challenging aspects of the job.
Check with your city building department if you are doing plumbing, electrical or any structural remodeling, especially if it involves moving or altering a load-bearing wall. You may be required to obtain a permit, and get inspections by the city in order to do the job legally. Find out what this will entail and how much it will cost.
Have access to manuals, wiring diagrams and reliable instructions if you're doing to DIY. Get advice from the building supply store when you buy your materials and equipment, and get safety and use instructions for any equipment you rent or buy.
Keep in mind that time is money. If you plan to take time off work, or hire someone else to take over other household duties like lawn and child care, you may not realize much saving in the end.
About the Author
Stevie Donald is a regular contributor to DexKnows. She has been a painting contractor since 1979.
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