DISRUPT Your DIY Mindset

Before you tackle a home improvement project consider all the facets of the job and you might decide to hire a contractor. Then again, you may just do it yourself.

By Gene And Katie Hamilton

Ladder Safety

When it comes to home improvements I’ve changed the way I look at doing-it-myself. That’s quite a statement since we’ve thrived on remodeling and reselling houses and writing about it. Yes, of course, it saves you money to paint a room or mow your lawn when compared with the cost of hiring out the work. But not every upgrade is a good choice for a handy or wannabe-handy homeowner.

So if you’re a diehard DIYer, I’m suggesting you disrupt your idea of always doing it yourself and consider evaluating the job without assuming the DIY approach is the best way to go. Definitely always do the grunt work. But for more nuanced jobs learn the steps, and read the directions to determine its complexity. Find out how difficult the job is, what's involved and what skills and tools are needed. And don't forget to consider how much time it will take to complete the work. Time is money, so consider what you have the most of. Once you have a handle on the full scope of a project you're in a better position to decide to tackle a job or call in a pro.

Do this, not that.

If you want to work outdoors, tackle yard projects like weeding, edging and pruning. Or apply caulk around doors and weatherstrip around windows; these are doable jobs that any handy homeowner can learn and successfully complete and pocket a nice saving. For those with a creative streak, install molding, wainscoting and wallpaper to customize a room and express yourself.

Replacing existing light fixtures and faucets are jobs you can do because you’re swapping an old unit for a new one. Walk down the aisles of a home center and you’ll see manufacturers continue to make products DIY-friendly, designed for a homeowner to install. They often suggest a DIY and a Hire a Contractor price so you can crunch the numbers and compare.


Hire a pro.

But if a new electrical service or a plumbing line is needed, it’s best to call a licensed professional. Check with your local building department to learn exactly what work requires a licensed pro and what you can do yourself. The pro knows the local building codes and what they require so the upgrade or installation will meet the approval of an inspector. And a pro has the experience and specialty tools to complete the job more quickly and correctly than a homeowner who doesn’t.

Think safety, too, especially if you have roof work. Admittedly you can save almost half of what a roofer charges to repair or install a new roof, but it's dangerous and strenuous work for only the most rugged individuals. Just hauling shingles up a ladder is a tough job, not to mention walking and working on the precarious and unfamiliar surface of the roof of a house.

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