Home Renovations

Should You Go DIY or Hire a Contractor?

Brett Garrett

July 18, 2018

Like many homeowners, we often fancy ourselves to be pretty handy around the house and yard—or if not, we’re eager to learn. Watching channels like HGTV, or seeing gorgeous DIY project inspiration from Instagram and Pinterest, can encourage any novice to pick up some tools and get to work. And in many cases, with all respect to Martha Stewart, this can be a good thing.

But as many homeowners also know, we’re not always the most skilled person for a given job. And when it comes to protecting and preserving the value of our homes, sometimes it’s best to call in a professional.

With home improvement projects both big and small, when should you go DIY and when should you hire a contractor? Here are three key questions to ask before you start any project:

1. Will This Update Improve the Value of Your Home?

First things first—will your planned project make your home more attractive to potential buyers or is it something that could actually diminish your resale value? You don’t want to expend time and money on your home, only to discover the investment won’t pay off in the long run. Before you grab a hammer or start comparing contractors, make sure your home improvement plans are a smart financial decision.

According to HGTV, home repairs that pay off include landscaping, bathroom and kitchen upgrades, and converting attic space to a bedroom. Projects that can decrease a home’s value, however, include swimming pools, wall-to-wall carpeting, and garage additions, say the experts over at Money Crashers. Think twice before installing that in-ground pool or converting your garage from one car to two. If you’re planning to move in the next several years, will this upgrade help or hurt you?

2. Do You Have the Skills and Tools to Do the Job?

Years back, after consulting a home improvement manual and some videos online, a Hometap staffer (who shall remain anonymous) decided to change his kitchen sink faucet and handles on his own. Big mistake: He drastically overestimated his skill set, misaligned his pipe fixtures, and ended up having to call a plumber for what turned out to be a significant repair. Had he simply called a plumber at the start, his bill would have been much smaller (and the project would have taken less time, too). Lesson learned!

On MarketWatch, consumer reporter Jeanette Pavini says it best: “The internet can make DIY projects look a lot easier than they are.” Before you start any home improvement project, whether significant or minor, honestly and critically assess your skills and the tools you have at hand. Will you be able to competently complete the job in a way that will definitively improve your home? (If you’re not sure, check out this quiz from the National Association of the Remodeling Industry.) Do you know how to use the tools required for the work? If you don’t have the tools, how much will it cost you to buy or rent them? Which brings us to another financial consideration...

3. Which Is Most Cost-Effective: DIY or Hiring a Professional?

Skills and equipment aren’t your only considerations when it comes to deciding whether to go DIY or to use a professional. There’s also the cost, both in terms of time and money. With any project, Investopedia recommends factoring in what materials will cost you as well as the length of time the project will take to complete. Get at least two quotes from contractors, price out materials and time from a DIY perspective, then compare those numbers side by side. Which option makes more sense for your timeframe and budget?

Remember: Any home upgrades should emphasize your property’s current and future value as well as your pride of ownership. Be honest when assessing any home improvement project in terms of whether it’s a good investment and, if so, who should actually do the work. You—and your home’s future owners—will thank you.

Brett Garrett

was the

VP, Product Strategy

at Hometap.