Homeowners looking at home improvement projects have lots of decisions to make, not the least of which is whether to hire the job out or do it themselves. With pros and cons on both sides, the choice is based upon experience, comfort level and budget.
“What the decision between DIY or a professional comes down to is an individual’s comfort level and ultimately what they want to accomplish,” says Andrew Brindley of HE Homes in Indianapolis. He tells people looking to tackle a project on their own to plan on making a mistake at least once if they’ve never done that particular job before.
“It comes down to the person,” explains Carl Kuchar of Woodchukar Carpentry of Payette, Idaho. “There are some jobs that are simple for people who have done it before but are not intuitive to someone who has only watched online videos.”
Brindley suggests novice DIYers tackle jobs where lessons can be garnered easily online and mistakes may only be cosmetic. “With some projects, it is easy to look up some tutorials, read articles and know what you are doing,” he explains. “But when it comes to actual mechanical trades, structural plumbing, electrical and things like that, those are components of a home that, if they are not done correctly, can either create a safety issue or cause a whole bunch of damage.”
Kuchar agrees. “I understand that someone may not be able to afford a contractor, but they definitely need to do their homework and make sure they understand how to do it,” he says.
Brindley gives the example of a plumbing leak. “If you accidentally cut the wrong line, you could have up to 5,000 gallons of water flowing through your home every minute. … While it may cost a little bit more to use a professional rather than making it a DIY project, you have to look at the cost of the whole project.”
Another factor to consider is the necessary equipment. “If a homeowner doesn’t have a lot of tools or the right ones for the job, hiring a contractor is probably going to be cheaper,” Kuchar says, explaining that a contractor may show up with $40,000 worth of tools, including ones designed specifically for the job. Using the wrong tools or even unfamiliar tools may end up costing both time and money.
On the other hand, experts say there are a lot of things homeowners can do themselves, like painting, changing faucets and simple repairs, but they say to take your time. The old adage “measure twice to cut once” still holds true. If, on the other hand, you do choose to hire the job out, it is a good idea to check references and get referrals.