Remodeling: Do it Yourself or Hire a Pro?


You’re ready to invest in updates to your home, but can you save more by doing it yourself? Reality is that some updates will leave you worse off wallet-wise than hiring it out if you make costly mistakes.

Here’s some advice to help you weigh the pros and cons.

Bathroom remodel

We recently had friends who needed to completely renovate their bathroom and master bedroom layout, which required drawings, new walls, plumbing, etc. For a project like this, we definitely recommend going with a trusted remodeling contractor and or build/design firm.

For a small half bath, people with basic handy skills are able to complete cosmetic updates. Replacing paint, vanities and even tile can be done by the DIY’er with dedication to time and patience. Your costs can range from $2,000-$10,000 for a small bathroom, but moving plumping or installing luxury finishes will take it $15,000 and beyond. If you get to that budget, we recommend using a contractor. There’s nothing worse than splurging on luxury products to ruin it during installation.

Whether you choose to go it alone or hire help, add at least 15% to your budget for unplanned surprises.

Repurposing an existing space
Maybe a grown kids room is turning into an office, or you’re converting the bonus room from a kids play area to a library. If you aren’t taking down walls, chances are you can do this yourself.  Use Pinterest and Houzz to gather your ideas, and places like Home Depot and Lowes offer a ton of education for basic updates. If you’re planning to sell soon, chat with your realtor first to make sure the room is staged in a way best for selling.

Changing your color scheme

If you last decorated your home last in the early 2000’s, chances are your color palette isn’t representative of the crisp whites and neutral grays and beiges we see today. Repainting your interiors can dramatically change the look and feel of your home and is one of the cheapest projects you can do yourself.  Being precise and spending the proper time to prep will garner the most successful results. A 10-by-12-foot room with eight-foot ceilings should require one gallon ($30–$60 at Home Depot) per coat, according to paint brand Glidden’s online calculator.

Going to an open floor plan
This is definitely a job for a pro. Nearly nine in 10 homebuyers want partially or fully combined kitchen and dining areas, according to a study published earlier this year by the National Association of Home Builders.

Removing walls, patching floors – this is all best left to the professionals.

 Painting your kitchen cabinets

Cabinet refinishing can really improve the overall look of your kitchen and is a low cost alternative to replacing your cabinetry. This is a pretty time intensive job, and, if you mess it up, could be really expensive to fix. Just make sure if you do decide you are talented enough to DIY, that you don’t skimp on materials and paint. Quality of paint can save you from having to redo later.  We recommend only those who are very versed in painting and DIY home projects to take this task on.

If you hire, try and do in the late fall or winter when demand drops, you may be able to negotiate a better price.  Professionals also get a better price on paint, and will save you the time and labor.

Deciding to renovate is a big commitment in itself. But before you take the leap, ask yourself whether DIY is the best use of your time and money.

For more ideas on remodeling, watch our Twin Cities Live segment on projects you can update on a budget.

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