DIY vs Hiring a Contractor: How to Decide
Do-it-yourself or hire a pro? It’s the classic homeowner’s dilemma. On one side, you have the opportunity to save money, exercise a little creativity, and at the end of the day, crack open a cold beer and say, “That’s right, I did that renovation all on my own.” On the other side, you get to pay someone to do all the hard work while you kick back and do whatever the heck you want.
If you watch enough HGTV, you start to get the sense that DIY renovations and repairs are not only doable; they’re actually pretty fun. But don’t pick up that hammer and start knocking down drywall quite yet—ask yourself, would this job be better left to the pros?
Not sure? No worries; we’ve created this handy-dandy guide to help you figure out once and for all if you should hire a contractor or roll up your sleeves and do the job yourself.
When to Hire a Pro
There are many reasons to ditch the DIY dream and call a contractor. Here are a few:
- If your home is older. Tips and tricks from DIY blogs and the good people of HGTV might not fit the unique configurations of an older home. Better to opt for a specialist who gets it.
- If the project is dangerous. Before you start fiddling around with electrical stuff and knocking holes in a popcorn ceiling that may contain asbestos, call a pro.
- If you’re pressed for time. Doing renovations and repairs is a little different if you’ve only got an hour to spare. Don’t add a tight deadline to something that could require an extra day or two. The results will be sloppy.
- If you’re preparing to sell. Homebuyers might not be as impressed with your DIY chandelier-hanging job as you are. If you’re looking to wow them, go with a pro.
- If the supplies and time sunk into the project are costly even on a DIY level. If there’s no noticeable difference in price, why burden yourself with it? This one’s a no-brainer.
- If it needs to be perfect. Look, almost no one can hang wallpaper perfectly without years of experience. If you want it to look professional...well, hire a professional.
When to DIY
If you’re handy and you want to go it alone, these are a few reasons to consider doing so:
- If you’ve done it before. If this ain’t your first rodeo (and by rodeo, we mean the first room you’ve painted, floor you’ve ripped up, etc.), go for it.
- If you’re okay with imperfection. Not going to notice a few flaws? DIY may be okay. Especially if those flaws don’t create any kind of hazard in your home.
- If you’ve got lots of time. Having extra time eliminates the pressure that can result in a rushed—and therefore botched—job.
- If you’re on a budget. Sometimes the DIY method is so, so, so, so much cheaper than the contractor option. If this is the case, it’s fine to decide with your wallet sometimes.
- If you watched the YouTube video and actually understood it. There are tons of DIY blogs and videos out there to guide you through your next renovation or repair on your home. If the one you watched makes sense to you and you are 100 percent confident you can follow the steps, this is a good indicator that you’re ready to DIY.
Tips on Hiring a Contractor
Going the contractor route? First, be sure to read reviews. Make sure they are current, there’s a lot of them, and of course, make sure they’re mostly positive. Comparison shop contractors, and then choose one and start with a no-obligation phone call to kick things off. Ask for references, proof of insurance, and have a contract (that you understand and agree with) before you get going. Most importantly, trust your gut. If the pro seems sketchy, look elsewhere.
Tips on DIY
If you’re going to DIY, give yourself plenty of time. Create a budget and stick to it. Before you get started, do research—watch videos, read articles, talk to friends who have done similar projects. And if it’s a major project, make it easier on yourself and spend a little time decluttering and putting items that might be in the way into storage. Most importantly, know when to hit the pause button. If your DIY dream is turning into a repair nightmare, there’s no shame in calling in a professional.
Whichever way you choose to go, you’ve got this. For more DIY tips and other fun things, check out our blog. We love to share decluttering strategies, organization hacks, and inspiration on how to improve the vibe of your home.