When DIY Isn’t Enough

Image by Largo Marble and Granite, Inc. via DesignMine
Image by Largo Marble and Granite, Inc. via DesignMine

You installed a new faucet last week. Now you feel like you can conquer larger projects. But when it comes to remodeling an entire kitchen or bathroom, can you really tackle the project completely on your own?

Of course you can, right? After all, there are more DIY resources available than ever before. However, a few weeks in, when your kitchen is only half-finished and there’s dirt and debris everywhere, will you still feel the same?

While you can always call a contractor to bail you out in a pinch, that doesn’t mean you should just dive headfirst into a major project. It could result in repercussions both to your health and finances. There are a number of factors to consider when deciding whether to take on a home remodeling project solo or hire a professional.

How big is the project?

About 50 percent of homeowners spend $950 or less on do-it-yourself home remodeling projects, according to the National Association of Home Builders. That’s generally because most homeowners take on small-scale work that doesn’t require significant expertise or craftsmanship.

If you think your project will break the bank at over $1,000, it’s probably worth calling in a pro unless you are particularly skilled or have a fair amount of previous knowledge. If you spent a summer tiling bathrooms and kitchens in college, then you probably “ok”. Otherwise, it pays to find a reputable contractor.

Do you have the motivation?

If you struggle to finish projects in a timely manner, DIY remodeling will likely be no different. Major renovations aren’t something that can be knocked out in an afternoon. So if you don’t have the patience and motivation, odds are life will get in the way and you’ll be sitting on an unfinished floor.

Do you have the tools?

A remodeling project might seem like a piece of cake right up to the moment you realize you don’t have all the tools to finish the job. In this case, the price of renting or buying tools can quickly add to your overall cost. Odds are if you don’t have it on hand, you most likely will not know how to use it. You don’t want to lose money, or a finger.

Some tools simply aren’t readily available to anyone other than contractors. If you knock out a wall, putting down a tarp isn’t going to prevent dust and other unhealthy contaminants from covering every surface in your home and ruining your indoor air quality. Clean contractors make livable remodeling a priority by using robust dust control plans to ensure your respiratory health isn’t put in jeopardy.

Do you have the skills?

The fact that you’re even considering a DIY project shows that you take pride in your home. The reality is that even with patience and motivation you may simply not have the know-how and practice to execute a project to meet your expectations. You must consider, “what is behind the wall I am about to open?”, and ask yourself do you have the skill to I replace the rotten wood or repair the water leak you just found.  By bringing in a pro, you can rest assured that your remodel will be structurally and aesthetically sound.

To sweeten the deal, many contractors guarantee a warranty on their work. So if something does happen to break, you won’t be repaying for the same work.

Is the project safe?

Most importantly, only take on a DIY project if you feel confident that you can complete it safely. When working with electrical wires or gas, one wrong move can result in serious injury. There are also long-term risks such as structural collapses if you make a mistake redoing plumbing or removing a support beam.

Also, keep in mind that while green remodeling is in style, it’s important to make sure you’re not reusing hazardous materials. Recycling can add style to your home while simultaneously helping the environment, but you don’t want to accidentally expose yourself and your loved ones to asbestos or lead just to save a quick buck on supplies.

The big question: are you going to be able to live comfortably during and after the remodeling process? Time, hassle and clutter can quickly turn a fun project into your worst nightmare. For your safety and health, set realistic expectations about the projects you can accomplish, and call on a contractor when it’s outside your wheelhouse. In the long run, this distinction will save you time, money and your sanity.

Author Bio: Brian Paich, Business Development Manager for BuildClean Dust Control System, A Division of Illinois Tool Works | Brian has extensive experience in the home remodeling market through working alongside his grandfather, a carpenter in Chicago, and through his work at ITW, a Fortune 200 company, and other businesses. At ITW, he leads the team that developed the new BuildClean Dust Control System, a groundbreaking invention that has transformed the way contractors manage remodeling dust in residential projects. Brian has worked directly with contractors and homeowners across the country for several years, learning what is most important to both audiences.  He has an MBA in Finance from University of Chicago. Brian is very active in the remodeling industry and its many associations.