Do-It-Yourself Versus Hiring a Contractor

Being a homeowner is both joy and stress all bundled onto a solid foundation. The initial cost is quickly accompanied by property tax, utilities, homeowners’ insurance, and more. After that comes executing your vision in the form of remodeling and repairs. 

If you have your sights set on accomplishing various home improvement tasks, you will need to decide between trying your hand or hiring a contractor. There are benefits and drawbacks to both options, so take some time to make this decision. 

Certain tasks are certainly too large for an inexperienced novice, but others can be fun bonding events. Need help deciding between DIY or hiring a contractor? Check out these factors!

Time to DIY?  

Certain tasks are great as a do-it-yourself task. Some are small, like replacing cabinets, and others are quite large, like insulating an attic. Three factors play into deciding between DIY or contractor: safety, difficulty, and time. 

Safety First 

If a task has any of these factors, it is probably not a good idea to try it on your own. 

  • It could seriously injure you or worse. 
  • It could destroy your home. 
  • It requires a permit. 

Each of these would leave you in a worse spot than when you started. Always remember professionals are trained to handle the dangers of roofing or electrical work. Major plumbing jobs can quickly turn into major water disasters if something is done wrong. Some projects, like building add-ons to your home, require building permits and should be handled by a licensed contractor. 

Another sign it is better to bring in a contractor is anytime you work with gas. Gas presents a serious risk for poisoning, explosion, or fire. 

Master the Skill 

No home improvement job should be tackled if you have no idea what you are doing. However, it is possible to learn. If you are doing the work yourself, research to know what to do. There are plenty of YouTube videos to help with simple jobs such as a leaky toilet. 

Other tasks are highly specialized and may require licensing before you can accomplish them. For example, if you’re considering paving the driveway, you’ll need to get licensed in your state by taking the Arizona paving license exam or whichever state applies to you. 

If the mastery of the skill seems out of reach, here are some reasons to bring in a professional: 

  • The level of technical know-how needed makes it dangerous for anyone else to try it.
  • Mistakes can turn into costly mistakes or require you to hire a contractor to fix your mistake. 
  • It could hurt your home value if the job isn’t completed well. 

Time Is Money 

The third reason to choose a contractor over a do-it-yourself project or vice versa is the cost. Sometimes, it is much cheaper and easier to hire a professional. The issue is that the more expensive a project is for a contractor, the better indicator it is of the level of work needed. 

To compare costs versus benefits, you will need to estimate the time needed for the project and what you would save if you did it yourself. Here are the steps to do that: 

  • Get an estimate of how much it would cost to have a contractor do the work. Many contractors will provide free estimates to help give you the price range. 
  • Calculate the DIY cost by considering permits, tools, materials, and anything else you need. Subtract this from the cost of hiring a contractor to see how much you would save. 
  • Estimate the time you would spend based on skill level and experience. 
  • Calculate the hourly cost by dividing the potential savings by the time estimate. Think of this as the amount you earn per hour by doing it on your own.
  • Decide if this investment is worth it based on the amount you save, the time you would spend doing the project, difficulty level, and all the other factors.

When in Doubt, Talk to the Expert 

As mentioned, many contractors provide free estimates. If you are having trouble deciding between a professional or a personal project, talk to a contractor. This decision is about more than the cost. It is about safety, quality results, and increasing home value. Over time, you can build up do-it-yourself skills and show off those home projects but do it with the advice of a professional.