The Dos and Don’ts of DIY Home Improvement — and When to Call a Contractor

Spring Home Improvement

As the days grow longer and the weather warms up, many people start to turn to spring home improvement projects. After months cooped up inside, it can be great to get outside and work on a project, or even work inside with fresh air coming in through the windows.

You can learn to do just about anything on the Internet these days, but that doesn’t mean you necessarily should. As professional contractors and remodelers, we’ve seen many instances of projects that started as do-it-yourself but quickly turned to disaster.

While we’re always happy to step in and help fix problems that arise, doing so is never fun for us or the client. Based on our nearly 30 years of experience, we put together a few suggestions for projects that are DIY-friendly and those that definitely require a professional.

Structural vs. cosmetic home improvement projects

Structural Home Improvement

A good rule of thumb for deciding whether to take on a project yourself is whether the project will impact your home’s structure. This includes everything from plumbing and electricity to adding and knocking down walls.

You should definitely get a contractor involved any time you are making big changes like this. Making a mistake could cost a lot of money and, in some cases, cause damage to your home. No one is going to be perfect 100 percent of the time, but a contractor has experience to know where mistakes are likely to happen.

Cosmetic Home Improvement

Aside from those more significant projects, anything in the realm of a cosmetic upgrade is safe to try on your own. Cosmetic does not mean just painting or hanging pictures. In fact, you might be surprised to hear just how broad the definition can be.

Working with tile, wood, and plaster can all be done with little or no prior experience as long as you are willing to put in the work — more on that in a minute. You can completely transform your home’s look and feel without touching any of its structural elements.

Like any project, you should go into it with a plan of what you want to achieve and a rough idea of how you are going to do it. This is where websites, videos, and books can be helpful. However, remember that these resources will never compare to receiving one-on-one assistance from a home repair professional.

Spending time and money on spring home improvement

The other factor to consider in deciding whether or not to DIY is how much time and money you have to allocate to the home improvement project. The common notion is that doing something yourself is always going to be less expensive than hiring a professional, but that’s not always the case.

Determining Costs

To determine which option is more economical, you need to weigh the professional’s estimate against the cost of materials, tools, permits, and anything else required to complete the job.

These calculations should be pretty straightforward, and you’ll also get a sense of whether you have everything you need to complete the job. There’s nothing worse than being halfway through a project and realizing you don’t have a tool or other supply that you need!

Time is Money

While adding up the dollar amounts is simple, calculating the value of your time is more complicated. Sure, you can compare it to the hourly wage at your job, but how much is your “free” time worth to you? What are you sacrificing to complete a home improvement project yourself? Could your time be better spent some other way?

Home remodelers are not therapists, but we have worked with people from all walks of life and might be able to give you a third-party perspective to make these decisions — both in terms of home improvement and personal return on investment.

It’s also important to note that working with a contractor will always be quicker than doing a project on your own. You’ll have an entire team at your disposal who knows how to work quickly and efficiently.

Professionals are also much more well-versed in dealing with problems that might come up along the way. As the old saying goes, you get what you pay for.

One final caveat of DIY home improvement

As with a lot of things in life, Google and YouTube will only go so far in helping you on a project. They won’t come into your home and talk with you, and they don’t care what the final result looks like or how much money you spend in the process.

Our team at All Trades reads the latest research on home improvement trends and projects and interprets it for you. We have more than 25 years of experience and can easily separate fact from fiction — which is not always easy to do with online information or even home improvement books.

We also care about how the project turns out and whether or not you are satisfied with the result. We are happy to consult on any project large or small, or offer advice and insights to best turn your home improvement ideas and dreams into a reality.

Contact us to learn more about how we can assist on your spring home improvement projects!