DIY or Hire a Contractor for Your Spring Home Improvement Projects?

Wednesday, April 25 at 03:32 PM
Category: Personal Finance

As we swing into spring, we asked our Facebook fans a few weeks ago to tell us what they were looking forward to most in the upcoming months.  It was no surprise that many of them, and maybe you included, have plans of giving your home sweet home a facelift.  Your home is one of your greatest investments and taking care of that investment is critical to maintaining its value. From small maintenance projects to large renovations, anything you do to your home will affect what it's worth down the road. When it comes to home improvement projects you have a decision to make: do it yourself (DIY) or hire a professional contractor? Before making that decision, read on for some important points to consider.

Cost/Expense. The biggest benefit to DIY projects is the cost savings of doing the work yourself. In any home improvement job there will be cost involved in obtaining materials. After that, most of the potential cost of the project will be related directly to time. If you hire someone, you are paying for their time, experience and guarantee. If you do it yourself, you'll save money but invest time. Ask yourself: How much is my time worth?

Experience. Have you ever done this type of project before? Is it something that requires experience? If your project involves painting walls and trim, you could save money by doing it yourself, even if you've never painted before. It's pretty easy to learn and doesn't carry a high risk of injury or damage. However, hanging a door may be something much better done by someone who does this type of precision work for a living. After all, you can live with (or fix) a botched paint job but living with a door that doesn't close (or open) is a problem. When hiring a professional, be sure to find someone who has done this type of project before. And always check references!

Safety. What kind of dangers does your project entail? Use of tools and heavy equipment you are unfamiliar with can put you in danger. Improper wiring can be a fire hazard. Climbing a ladder certainly involves personal risk. Be sure to weigh the potential risks against the cost savings of doing a project yourself.

Resources. One of the greatest advantages to hiring someone, especially for a large job, is their access to resources. They should have contacts in the industry, be able to offer a variety of options for materials, and may even be able to get items at a discount. This is especially important to consider for a large project like building an addition or renovating a kitchen or bath, where you will want options to choose from for details like counter tops, lighting, faucets and other decisions you will live with every day.

Guarantee. When you do a project yourself, there is no guarantee it will be done correctly, especially if it is a first for you. This may be a risk worth taking with projects you're comfortable with, but consider the repercussions of having to hire a professional to fix a job you've bungled. When hiring a professional, be sure you understand what s/he will guarantee and for how long. The guarantee should include materials, workmanship, functionality and any other relevant aspect. Be sure to get it in writing before the job starts!

Besides saving money, doing a project yourself certainly produces an immense sense of satisfaction and accomplishment, especially when it is something you see every day. Just be sure you are confident you can safely and accurately complete the project before starting. And if you decide to hire someone to do it for you, be sure to shop around, check references and get that guarantee in writing.


Tags: Financial Education
Scott on 9/19/2012 at 3:34 PM
Hiring a competent contractor is probably always a good idea. I have tried some DIY projects and usually I have to hire a contractor at the end.

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