Whether you’re prepping your home for sale or creating your dream home, renovating your house is a major project. It pays off by increasing the value of your property and giving you the chance to live in a home that gives you the space and amenities you want. As Zach Tetley at Nexus Homebuyers points out, “small renovations can yield big results.”
If you’re handy with tools or have a tight budget, you may want to do all or part of the renovation yourself. Completing the work gives you a sense of satisfaction, and along the way you get to learn a little about your house’s structure. On the other hand, you don’t have to deal with the hiccups and headaches if you let a professional do the work. How do you know which is best? Let’s take a closer a look at how to decide to go the DIY route or hire a professional for your renovation.
Scope of the Project
Despite what you see on home improvement shows, renovating a home is not an easy job. What you see take place on the screen for thirty to sixty minutes actually occurs over a period of days, weeks, or months. The bigger the job, the longer it takes.
You have to keep this in mind as you decide whether you want to tackle your own home renovation project or hand it over to a professional. Think about exactly what you want to do. Refresh jobs, like installing new hardware, painting the walls, or resurfacing the cabinets are relatively simple jobs that don’t take much time. You can even complete many of them in a weekend.
Homes that need a lot of work, may require renovating the same space by removing and replacing cabinets and countertops or rearranging the layout of the room will take longer. If you want the work completed as soon as possible, start talking to some pros who have the skills and equipment necessary to complete the job within a reasonable time frame. You can try this work on your own, but you may end up living in a construction zone for months.
After deciding exactly what you want to accomplish during your renovation project, you need to think about the safety risks involved in each step. For example, suppose you want to open up a galley kitchen by knocking down the wall dividing the kitchen and living room. Knocking down a wall isn’t necessarily difficult, but if that wall is a load bearing wall or has plumbing or electrical equipment inside, you can create a dangerous situation when you knock it down.
If you don’t know exactly where plumbing, electrical and gas lines run inside and outside your house, you may accidentally hit them during demolition. Working around damaged electrical wires is dangerous, and they can late ignite a fire if you leave them. Similarly, if you strike a plumbing pipe or natural gas line, you have to stop work immediately to take care of the problem before it causes more damage.
Renovating any part of your home takes time, and you have to ask yourself how much time you’re willing to invest. Are you taking time away from your day job so you can work full time, or do you plan to squeeze in pockets of time in the evening and on the weekends? It’s one thing to deal with a mess in the basement as you finish it. It’s another to live with an out-of-commission kitchen while you chip away at the project in your spare time.
That doesn’t mean that hiring a pro is the quickest way to get something done. Sometimes it’s difficult to find a professional in your area, and they may be so busy that they have to schedule your project for a later date. The pros may also have emergencies arise that force them to stop working on your project temporarily.
Your budget may be a significant factor to consider when deciding whether to do your own renovation or hire a professional. In general, you do save money by doing the labor yourself, but that doesn’t mean the work is completely free. You still have to buy materials and may need to purchase special tools. Professionals usually work with suppliers, so they purchase materials at a better rate than what’s available to you at a local store.
You also have to set aside money in the budget to deal with contingencies that arise while you work. No matter how diligently you plan and how carefully you work, you may still have to deal with unexpected setbacks. You may have to repair more than damage than you initially expected. You have to purchase special tools to complete parts of the project. You may even have to deal with something more serious like disposing of lead paint or dealing with a code violation. All of this has to be factored into your budget.
Top DIY Projects
Some home renovation projects are well-suited for DIY projects, especially those that you can do in chunks of time. The following projects top that list:
- Painting walls
- Replacing flooring
- Installing new fixtures
- Stripping woodwork
- Installing crown molding
- Laying carpet
Take, for example, replacing the floors. You can work in one room at time, sectioning off the room so that no one enters until you’re completely finished. This creates a minimal disruption since you can still use the rest of the premises.
Tasks for the Professionals
Renovation tasks that require special equipment, construction knowledge, or have a degree of risk are usually best left to the professionals. Saving money or learning how to do something on your own isn’t worth the potential damage to your home or your life. Hire a pro if you’re considering the following:
- Structural repairs
- Adding a second floor
- Removing asbestos insulation
- Moving or replacing plumbing, gas, or electrical lines
- Refinishing hardwood floors
There are plenty of resources available online and in your local library that show you step by step how to complete these projects, but learning as you work takes time. However, the last thing you want to deal with is looking through a video or flipping through a book to figure out how to move a load bearing wall.
As you plan your home renovation project, carefully consider how you plan to get the work done. Think through the scope of the project, the amount of time you have to work, and the budget you have to work within before you decide how much of it you’re willing to do on your own.