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Do It Yourself

DIY vs. Hiring a Professional

Published on: Mar 11th 2016, Friday
Category: Residential

With so much information available at our fingertips via books, videos etc., DIY projects are on the rise. However, even natural DIY enthusiasts often find themselves in a predicament - complete a complicated job on your own or hire a professional to ensure good quality work and finesse in the final outcome. It's an important decision as one has to establish that the project to be undertaken can be done on your own without requiring a professional to be called in later to tidy it up. So choose  your projects very carefully. Some jobs can be simple enough for an average homeowner to tackle successfully. Others clearly require expert skills. It’s the jobs between those two extremes that can be tricky.
That being said, DIY projects do offer you a creative outlet and sometimes, doing something productive in your spare time can be a rewarding experience. However, there is more to a DIY project than just having the right information. An elaborate YouTube video or a detailed article with step-by-step instructions and illustrations are a good starting point but, do you have what it takes to achieve the end result you're aiming for?
Image Credits: http://bit.ly/1RAhLAy 

If you're confused about doing a project on your own or hiring a Pro, here are 3 things you should consider - 
1. Assess Your Skills
It’s easy for most people to paint an old cabinet or to install new light fixtures. But, do you have the skill to remodel a kitchen or to build a headboard? A successful project requires more than a can-do/ will-do attitude. Talk to friends who may have tackled similar projects and consult books and other detailed resources. Ask yourself – “Do I enjoy physical labour and do I like getting dirty”? If the answer is YES, you could undertake small DIY projects. 
As you learn what's involved in a project, keep in mind that some things are better left to the pros -- like electrical lines, plumbing or natural gas pipes. The inherent difficulties of some projects also make them good candidates for a contractor's skilled hand. Don’t try installing solid surface countertops, cabinets and drywall yourself. On the other hand, minor repairs and even painting jobs can be good DIY projects, with the right skill set, of course. 
2. Evaluate the Cost
More often than not, DIY projects are triggered because a homeowner wants to save on cost. Why pay someone else to do a job you can do yourself? As long as you are confident (and not over-confident) of completing a small home improvement project, a DIY can be the cheaper option. Mistakes can require do-overs and cause empty wallets. When doing the math, keep in mind that contractors can often purchase materials at a much lower cost than individual homeowners, plus they already own the required tools. 
If you are going to spend money buying material and the necessary tools and also invest part of your working day (when you could be out earning money), you might be spending more money and time for no valid reason. Always find out what it will cost to get the job done by a professional, evaluate the amount of time and money you will spend to do the job yourself, assess your skills and also make sure you put some money aside in the eventuality you need to hire an expert to fix a DIY mistake. 
3. Consider the Time Factor
There's more to DIY decisions than money. Between the research, shopping and physical labour involved in a project, the time it takes to reach completion can add up and procrastination is also a very human trait. Make a detailed time assessment based on your list of steps. Remember, hiring a contractor, who can not only be there all day but has the connections to get subcontractors to find an open slot in their schedules, may well result in a significantly faster completion of the task.
Hesitant homeowners can take small, careful steps leading to an involved DIY project, too. Learning to complete projects yourself also helps maintain the privacy of your home. And you can always make changes mid-project. That kind of freedom, along with the DIY pride, means that small home improvement projects are good to try yourself. 
Here are some of the simpler tasks you could choose to do on your own - 
Wall Stencils for Accent Walls
It may seem complicated, but it really isn’t. Stencilling cool patterns on the wall is a fairly easy project. All paint and hardware stores carry a variety of stencil options. Choose the one you like best, buy a spray bottle specially designed for paints, and get started.

Image Credits: http://bit.ly/1Y0fgcf

Kitchen Backsplash Installation
If your kitchen backsplash is an old wall splattered with food stains, putting in new colourful tiles is the perfect weekend project for a DIY enthusiast. All you need are the tiles, grout and adhesive, and the extra time you spend doing the job yourself is a bargain against hiring a professional.
Paint Job for a Room
Painting an entire independent house may be too aspirational a project to see to completion without needing help. But, on the other hand, if you wish to repaint the kids’ room or a guest bathroom, the project is fairly simple and can be completed over a weekend. All you will need is some fresh paint, a step ladder, paint brushes, a steady hand and some patience. And you will end up saving a lot of money.
Few other simple DIY home improvement jobs are adding a linoleum floor to an old room, changing electrical fittings that are pretty straight forward, and furniture repairs if you are handy with carpentry tools. 
And here are the times when you need to very seriously consider hiring a pro - 
  • Installing new bathroom fittings or changing bathtub, shower cubicles etc
  • Installing new hardwood or vinyl floors
  • Replacing window treatments 
  • A job requiring plumbing changes
  • Electrical rewiring
  • Any job that requires technical skills, like installing new overhand water tanks, repairing a wall or waterproofing the roof.  

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