DIY -- or don’t?
Updated: Jan 25
Follow three simple remodeling rules to decide when it’s time to bring in a pro
Almost every homeowner experiences sticker shock when it comes time to remodel a space, replace a major appliance, or build an addition onto their home. Depending on the complexity of the project, you might find yourself weighing the costs and benefits of hiring a professional contractor to do the work.
We mistakenly think it simply comes down to budget: “If I can’t afford a contractor, then I need to do it myself. YouTube tutorials are free, right?”
Unfortunately, that’s a misconception -- nothing about home remodeling is free. The costs include materials, tools, labor, knowledge and time. A reputable contractor has all these things to offer, but you do pay what they are worth. An enthusiastic DIYer may have time, tools and some knowledge, but will have to purchase materials and learn what they don’t know on the job site (their house!). A hesitant DIYer or a full-time parent, spouse or employee may possess only a few of the magic ingredients needed.
Whether to DIY or call a pro largely comes down to the individual household, and considerations such as budget, time constraints and overall preference. But following a few rules of thumb can help make the decision much easier.
Are their safety concerns?
If the job is done wrong can kill you, you should hire a professional. Major rewiring, connecting a gas appliance, and replacing a roof are all projects that can result in serious injury or even death if they are mishandled. Here’s a look at the top 5 remodel jobs you should never do yourself. Contractors like electricians and roofers have years of experience to rely on and depending on the specialty, they have classroom hours, certifications, and ongoing professional development in their tool belts as well. Essentially, a licensed specialty contractor is uniquely equipped to handle the dangers of their profession.
What about damage to the home?
One huge benefit of remodeling is that it can increase a home’s value, and selling the house may even recoup the costs of a substantial upgrade. Just check out the latest cost vs value report on common remodeling projects. But some jobs have the potential to decrease a home’s value if not done professionally, or even damage the house, costing the homeowner dearly in the long run. Any major plumbing repair or installation has the potential to wreak havoc on a home. Water damage -- if a leak or burst pipe results from the work, for example -- can be extremely costly in the long run. Simpler DIY tasks such as tiling a backsplash can devalue a kitchen if they are unprofessional looking even when perfectly functional.
Do I have to pull a permit?
Pulling a permit means you are undertaking a specialized project, and you must get permission from your city or county to do the job and be able to prove that it was done correctly. Oftentimes, only licensed contractors will be able to pull permits, although it varies in each jurisdiction. Sometimes homeowners or “handyman” types can get construction permits, as long as the job passes interim and final inspections. If you are on the fence about whether a remodeling project is too big or too complicated for your DIY skills, this is a good measuring stick. Needing a permit usually means it’s a next-level job, and a professional is worth calling in. Take a deep dive into why a DIY home remodeler should never skip the permitting process.
Consulting a trusted design-build contractor like Crystal Remodeling at the very beginning of your process can put you on the right path for your home’s next rehab -- and you get to spend YouTube time on something a lot more fun than learning to drywall.