Gene and Katie Hamilton Welcome! We hope you’ll find the job costs of home improvement projects useful when you’re deciding whether to do a job yourself vs. hire a contractor. Our goal is to provide guidelines to make you confident in whatever decision you make. You can customize the cost figures to where you live by entering your ZIP Code in the cost adjuster. Calculators for some of the projects will help you estimate the amount of materials you’ll need for jobs like painting, tiling, flooring and more.

Estimation Books The DIY Cost of projects is based on national average cost data from major retailers and e-commerce web sites with home improvement products. For the DIY Time we use our in-the-trenches experience of having remodeled 13 houses and input from homeowners who share their time and experience with us. The Pro Cost and man-hours to complete a project are determined by averaging cost and data information in several construction books that are updated annually and used by contractors to prepare job bids. We generate a regional cost for different geographic areas based on zip codes.

We’re the authors of 20 home improvement books, most notably Home Improvement for Dummies©, Bathroom Remodeling for Dummies©,Carpentry for Dummies©, Plumbing for Dummies© and Painting and Wallpapering for Dummies©. Our most recent book Fix It and Flip It is in its second edition. We’ve appeared as home improvement experts on television programs such as CNN, Dateline, the Today Show, HGTV and many others.

A Little History

Housenet BBS Our newspaper column Do It Yourself or Not was the foundation for HouseNet, the first home improvement website we created. Using the column as content we went online and created HouseNet BBS, a subscription-based bulletin board system in 1991 which we operated out of an extra bedroom using a maze of modems running into our home. A BBS, a forerunner to the Internet, was a network of computers and modems using telephone lines that connected thousands of special interest BBS communities all over the world. With the help of Owens Corning as a sponsor we were able to launch HouseNet on the Internet in 1993 as the only online community serving as a clearinghouse for homeowners and contractors, who freely gave of their time and expertise to answer questions. By 1996 we were part of AOL's Greenhouse Program and launched HouseNet on AOL as their home improvement channel. A couple of years later HouseNet was acquired by R. R. Donnelley & Sons and in 1998 Yahoo! Internet Life magazine rated HouseNet as one of the top 100 Web sites.

Do It Yourself or Not has been in newspaper syndication by Tribune Publishing since 1987; it launched online in 1999 at The feature continues to operate and thrive in the growing online world of home improvements. Pinterest is a popular social network and online pinboard that allows users to visually share, and discover new ideas by posting or 'pinning' on their boards. The Pinterest boards at DIYORNOT share ideas and solutions to their home improvement and repairs projects.

We hope you'll use Do It Yourself or Not as a resource to help you become better informed homeowners and better able to decide when to do it yourself and when to hire a professional.

By Katie and Gene Hamilton