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To DIY, or Not to DIY? That Is the Question

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Jessica
12.13.12

Is doing it yourself really worth the extra effort? It depends. In some cases, you can save a good chunk of cash by purchasing materials at the local hardware store and applying a little elbow grease. But for other projects, it may actually be less expensive (and a lot easier) to hire a contractor.

When you’re deciding which direction to take, it’s important to be realistic about the time, money and energy you’ll spend on a project (especially if you’re a DIY newbie!). Here are five questions to ponder before you head to Home Depot all gung-ho:

Is it Safe?

This is the most important factor. If there’s a chance you or someone in your family may be injured during the project, it’s not worth doing. You’re the only one who can really judge your skills, so be honest with yourself. Are you truly comfortable climbing two stories on a ladder? Can you safely operate a chainsaw? If the answer is “no” or “maybe,” it’s better to go with a contractor.

Are You Prepared for Unexpected Costs? 

Very few projects go exactly according to plan the first time. Hidden costs and last-minute changes can unexpectedly increase your project’s budget. If you don’t have a house fund in place, you might want to consider hiring a contractor to mitigate the risk of unexpected costs.

Do You Really Have Enough Time?

So maybe doing something yourself will save you money, but what about the time cost? Between budget meetings, soccer practices and dinner duty, your time is a valuable currency. Can you really afford to spend ten hours or more retiling your kitchen? Sometimes the dollar cost is well worth the time saved.

Do You Need any Licenses or Permits?

Some projects, especially ones that involve electricity or a lot of digging, require specific permits and licenses. Check to see if you need these for the project you’re planning. If you do, it’s probably best to leave this to a professional. Getting permits is a hassle, and it usually means the project is going to be complex!

Do You Have the Right Tools?

If you don’t own all of the tools and machinery necessary to complete your project, the rental fees or purchase price of equipment will add up quickly. It might be less expensive to pay a flat fee to a contractor who already has access to the necessary equipment.

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