Hire a contractor or do it yourself? That question gets asked probably thousands of times per day across the United States. Some home and property owners bring a wide range of skills to home improvement projects, while others have novice abilities or less.
In a perfect world, the novices would not attempt what only experts should do. That would eliminate many expensive outcomes.
Here are 4 straightforward tips on how to decide whether or not your project needs a contractor or if it is safely DIY.
1. 'Know Thyself' and Then Do a Cost-Benefit Analysis
Two of humanity’s greatest philosophers, Socrates and “Dirty” Harry Callahanagree. The most sure path to personal enlightenment and avoiding tragic mistakes lies in knowing yourself and grasping your personal limitations.
Home improvement projects can incur huge investments of time and expense. These projects can also go wrong incredibly quickly if mistakes get made.
Before embarking on a DIY adventure, take honest stock of your abilities and time available to undertake the project.
Even if you have the experience and ability to perform the project successfully, follow the lead of successful business owners and do a cost-benefit analysis. This process bluntly lists the pros and cons, especially costs saved and incurred.
You may find, for instance, that you have the ability, but not the time to do the job right. Or you may find that your own expense approaches or even outstrips hiring a professional.
2. When Inexperience Plus Mistakes Equal Danger
Some projects involve great danger if a novice has any missteps. Mistakes could lead directly to injury or even death for those in the structure if the job gets done wrong.
Structural construction and electrical work are the main examples here. They require experience and knowledge to perform competently. Incompetent work in these fields will lead to disaster.
3. When Precision Matters, But the Homeowner Is Not Precise
Not every inexperienced DIY-er will potentially kill or injure people with his or her mistakes on a project. But if you lack precision or patience, you can get results that merely look disastrous.
Installing hardwood floors, building an outdoor recreation area, or putting in a door, for example, require very exact measuring or surveying skills. When these tasks get done sloppily, they can lead to unsightly and embarrassing results
4. When Crucial Errors Could Damage the Home
Even minor mistakes can lead to major expenses later on. For example, what seem like tiny errors when installing plumbing can create costly and damaging consequences. Poor plumbing work causes leaks.
Oddly enough, the damage caused by major leaks could pale in comparison to minor ones. Major leaks get noticed, cleaned up, and repaired right away. Small leaks can last for months or years. These can create progressively worse damage while possibly leading to infestations of dangerous black mold
When the Project Requires an Inordinate Amount of Learning or Work
Even with a requisite amount of talent and ability to learn and do a task properly, you still may want to think hard before doing the job yourself.
Ask hard questions, such as:
- How long will it take to learn and do the job?
- How much time will you lose with your kids?
- How much work will you miss and salary will be lost as a result?
Consider what business owners refer to as “opportunity cost.” This refers to considering what you could do instead of engaging in an action.
While doing a job yourself represents an admirable commitment to independence, most people should consider first the downside of not hiring licensed and experienced contractors with a solid professional reputation.