Home Improvements: How to Decide Between DIY and Calling the Pros

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One of the best ways to save money when remodeling or updating your home is to do a portion of the work yourself. Unless you’re a trained contractor or professional, there is probably some limit as to what you can accomplish on your own. When deciding which route you plan on going and how much of your budget will be tied up in paying the pros to do what they do best, you’ll need to evaluate your own skill level, and determine how much time you have on your hands.

In general, it is best to rule out trying any extensive plumbing or electrical work on your own. Not only are there unforeseeable dangers with each, but should something go wrong, you will end up paying to fix both the original problem and the new issue. Minor fixes, like installing dimmer switches or hooking up a sink, can probably be tackled in an afternoon with detailed guides.

The National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI) has an online questionnaire to help you determine if you are really ready for a DIY project. It asks you to consider things like whether or not you are willing to get your hands dirty; if you enjoy physical labor; if you’re fully aware of what the process will entail; whether you have a game plan if something goes awry; and if you’re up to date on building codes. Another big component, and something mentioned by NARI, is whether or not you have all the tools needed for the project. Your proposed project could easily involve expensive saws and tools you never plan on touching again, making it less worthwhile to tackle the task on your own.

If you do decide to take on the job yourself, be generous with the time estimates, because projects can easily eat up more time than expected. Consider painting and laying flooring — two projects that can go either way depending on the circumstances.

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