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Assessing Common Home Remodeling and Improvement Projects
Thanks to the ample opportunities to learn and the ease of finding information via the all-encompassing Internet, surplus of home improvement television shows, and handy home improvement store seminars, the DIY movement is strong. While you may have an instinct that you should tackle projects yourself, you don’t want to be overconfident; some things should be left to the professionals. As you make a list of projects to do around your house, be sure to ask yourself, “Should I try to DIY, or should I hire a pro?”
Start by deciding if you enjoy physical labor and getting dirty and determining how much labor and dirt you can handle. Once you’ve determined your attitude toward the project, assess what it requires and how that matches up with your skills. Visit home improvement stores to speak with staff, talk with friends who have taken on similar projects, read books on the projects, and look up resources online. Go through each step in the process, and consider your skill level.
Regardless of your capabilities, remember that some tasks should always be left to the professionals, including electrical work or work on natural gas pipes. “The cost of failure in these two cases can be serious injury or death,” warns Bankrate. Some experts suggest hiring professionals for plumbing too. Although it’s not necessarily complicated, a mistake can cause big problems.
Also, consider that you must meet local building codes and regulations. Failing to do so could lead to fines and issues selling your home down the road, such as eliminating a buyer’s desire to purchase or a lender’s willingness to issue a loan. Other projects aren’t necessarily dangerous, but can be inherently difficult. As such, these projects – like installing solid surface countertops, cabinets, and drywall – should be left to the pros. While these are obviously tricky, other jobs (like laying self-locking laminate flooring) seem simple but can get complicated.
Cost is an obvious consideration to make. According to HomeAdvisor, the average bathroom remodel costs $9,579. Most homeowners spend between $5,919 and $13,961. You can spend as little as $3,500 to $7,000 updating the essentials in a small or medium-sized bathroom. Choosing to DIY will eliminate labor costs, which can equate to an overall savings of 25 percent to 50 percent. DIY seems like the obvious choice if you’re on a tight budget. But not so fast. You can run into costly do-overs if you mess up, particularly if you choose to take on a large project like a bathroom remodel. Also, contractors can typically purchase materials at a much lower cost than homeowners, and they already own the tools necessary for the job.
There are ways to lower your costs if you DIY. For example, specialty tools can be expensive, so utilize a tool-rental shop. Also, to avoid biting off more than you can chew and paying for a contractor to fix your mistakes and redo the project, start with smaller and safer projects. For example, before attempting to sand and stain every square inch of the hardwoods in your home, try sanding and staining some furniture first. If you need to rewire part of your house, test your skills and interest by changing a wall outlet.
If you hire a contractor, ask if you can lower costs by handling some demolition, cleanup, and other low-skill tasks. Also, be sure to get multiple quotes from different types of contractors. You can also lower your costs by cutting out the middleman and acting as your own general contractor while hiring professional subcontractors. Be aware that acting as your own contractor means you’ll need to understand a great amount about what you’re contracting for, and you’ll become your own attorney.
Besides the financial considerations, also consider the timeframe differences. After you tally up the hours spent researching, shopping, and doing the actual labor, expect to spend up to eight weeks in a construction zone if you devote six hours a week to a 48-hour project. On the other hand, a contractor can be present all day and has the connections to get subcontractors to find an open slot in their schedules.
Assessing remodeling and home improvement projects is important in determining if you can DIY or if you need to bring in a professional. There are pros and cons to each option, so do your research before deciding. Besides considering the cost and time required of each option, it’s more important to consider your skill level and your safety.
Thanks to Gene Williams from DIYDad.info for this article!