Deciding whether to hire a contractor or take on a home improvement project yourself basically comes down to a time/money equation. While there are some other considerations, the pros of doing a renovation yourself largely relate to saving money and the cons mostly involve the amount of time you need to commit to the job. Following is a more specific description of the pros and cons of tackling a home renovation yourself.
Pro: Savings – Labor is the biggest expense in most home renovations. By doing some or all of the work yourself, you will, almost certainly save money. You can decide whether to simply keep that money in your pocket or invest it in higher quality materials and finishes. A well-executed renovation will also add to the value of your home and, eventually, turn your sweat equity into dollars. If you’re working with a tight budget, consider DIY.
Con: Time – In choosing to do a home renovation yourself, you are committing a portion of your time to the project. This can be a slippery slope, particularly when taking on projects that you have no experience with. You will almost certainly make mistakes that will lead to delays and force you to spend more time than you anticipated. Even if you don’t make mistakes, you never know what unexpected obstacles are going to spring up like unforeseen plumbing, electrical or structural issues. If you have the time to commit to the job and are prepared for the project to drag on longer than you thought, consider DIY, but if you are on a tight timeline, or if work, family and life in general don’t leave you with any extra time, maybe DIY is not for you.
Pro: Satisfaction – For some people, the satisfaction of completing a project themselves is part of the reward for investing so much of their time. Pride of ownership and pride in a job well done can truly make a person feel great. If the idea of coming home every day to a beautiful renovation that you completed yourself appeals to you, and you’re willing to dedicate required time and energy, then, DIY might be for you.
Con: Risk – If you’re honest with yourself, you’ll admit there’s a chance you, ultimately, won’t be able to produce the results that a pro would. Unfortunately, if you take on a DIY project, you won’t have anyone to hold accountable but yourself. Maybe you can live with minor imperfections. Maybe you’re willing to invest even more time and work on it until you get it right or maybe you’re fully confident in your ability to deliver a top quality renovation. If that’s the case, go with the DIY approach, but if you’d rather reduce risk, hire a contractor.
Pro: New Skills – Learning a new skill can add to the return on investment you receive from thetime you put into a renovation. These skills will be particularly valuable if you plan on doing more renovations in the future. Often, learning by doing can be the best way to pick up new skills. It’s going to require the time and patience to research, read and watch how to videos, but the resources are out there and if you’re a fast learner, you can become adept at anything from plumbing to tiling to cabinetry. You may want to practice your newly gained skills on scrap materials before moving on to the expensive stuff. If you have the time and interest to research and practice the skills required and you are willing to use your house as your classroom or laboratory, DIY could be for you.
Con: Lack of Warranties – If the tap you installed springs a leak a month after your DIY renovation is complete, what are you going to do? You’re either going to jump in there with a monkey wrench yourself and hope you get it right this time or you’re going to call a plumber and spend some of that hard-earned savings to have them fix it. A quality contractor will warranty their work for some length of time. If something goes wrong, you simply call them and they come make the repair. If peace of mind is important to you, you may want to stay away from DIY.
The decision to take on a do-it-yourself project should not be taken lightly. Nor should the decision to hire a contractor. Whichever way you go, do your research and know what you’re getting into. If you choose to DIY, have patience, be prepared for pitfalls, adapt to the situation and always follow proper safety precautions. If you choose to hire a contractor, choose carefully. Interview multiple companies and make sure you fully understand the timeline, the budget and what services you are getting. Are they offering design services or will they look to you for what finishes to install? Will they see the project through from start to finish or will they leave some of the finish work, like painting, up to you? Whether doing it yourself or hiring a contractor, the more questions you ask at the start, the better.
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