Home Improvement: DIY or Call a Pro?


When you’re ready to start the process of updating your home, you have an important decision to make: DIY, or hire a professional? You don’t necessarily have to make this decision just once; you can pick and choose which home improvement projects you feel up to the task of tackling yourself, and which you think would be better left in the hands of a professional.

Professional home renovations can cost a pretty penny, and while the primary deciding factor in the DIY vs. professional decision is often financial, there are costs other than money that you should consider when you’re weighing your options. For example, undertaking a DIY home improvement project can be a considerable time investment.

Think through the timeline you can reasonably commit yourself to within the demands of all your other work and home responsibilities. If you can only work on your kitchen cabinet and floor replacement on the weekends, are you comfortable having your kitchen space essentially non-functional for a couple months while you tackle this unwieldy project? The reality for many homeowners is that the hassle and stress of living in their home during the course of a long-term project outweighs the potential savings of DIY.

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There are other costs that come into play with DIY home upgrades as well. Before you decide to tackle an extensive DIY project, price out the cost of materials and equipment you’ll have to buy to complete the project yourself. It’s possible that these investments would outweigh what you would save on labor if you paid a professional, especially because professionals are often able to get better pricing on wholesale materials.

Furthermore, ask yourself whether you truly have the skills and capability to complete the project and do a good job. Unless you are experienced at DIY home improvement, your DIY could easily turn into a D-I-saster. Be realistic about your limits and if you’re determined to tackle DIY upgrades, scale yourself.

Don’t jump right into a kitchen remodel if you’ve never so much as installed new cabinet hardware. Start small. Paint the cabinets before you try to gut and replace them. You’ll wind up wasting more money if you start a project unprepared and consequently make mistakes that are more expensive to fix than if you had just hired a professional from the get-go. This advice particularly applies to projects that could be dangerous for your or your home if done improperly, such as plumbing, electrical wiring, or structural changes like knocking out a wall to open a room.

Finally, you may find that splitting the difference is an efficient and cost-effective compromise. Tackle some of the simpler elements of a large project, then hire a professional to finish the rest. There’s certainly an extra degree of satisfaction in revealing a home upgrade that you performed yourself, but make sure to choose your projects wisely.

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