When to DIY and When to Hire a Project Out
Should I tackle this project myself or should I hire a professional?
This is a question we get all the time here on The DIY Playbook and one we often grapple with too! We figured it was finally time to jump into this topic and share how we choose when to DIY and when to hire a pro. We’ve really built up our DIY skills by stepping outside of our comfort zones to tackle projects that we never ever thought we could do ourselves! But on the flip side, we do hire professionals from time to time and there are certain projects we probably won’t ever take on ourselves.
Before you make a decision either way, here’s a list of things you should consider.
We all lead busy lives and sometimes there just isn’t enough time to tackle the projects that need to get done around our homes. If you don’t have a bunch of weekends to devote to a large-scale DIY, then a professional might be the best route to go. Sometimes there are projects that we can easily handle ourselves, but we simply don’t have the time or patience to get them done. For example, when Finn & I were closing on our condo we didn’t have time to get into the new place to paint it from top to bottom. Even though we both know how to paint and have painted many times before, we decided to hire a professional to get the job done quickly.
Often times labor is the most costly portion of any project, so it can be tempting to want to take in on yourself. If you’re going back and forth between hiring a pro or DIY, then we suggest getting some quotes from a few pros. Then add up the tools, supplies, & time involved if you do it yourself and compare all of the numbers.
There are plenty of beginner and intermediate projects that we think every DIY’er can do themselves (see the list below for some ideas!). But there are also a lot of advanced projects that should be left to the professionals…especially the ones where you may hurt yourself (you won’t see us putting a new roof on our homes anytime soon!). Do some research into the project and decide if it’s one you can handle yourself. Also, some advanced projects require a permit. So make sure you explore your options before starting a project.
Our hardware arsenal has grown over the years and it makes us so happy that we no longer have to borrow tools from friends all the time. If you’re a DIY lover, we suggest slowly building your arsenal of tools so you’re prepared for any DIY project. But there are certain tools that you may not own, or even want to own. Look into renting tools from the hardware store (you can often get them for 24-48 hours for a great deal!), just make sure you have a way to get them home. Which brings us to our next point…
This is something we have overlooked in the past. You have this brilliant idea to add a large-scale wood wall to your guest room (cough cough, Casey) yet don’t plan on how the heck you’re going to get those 12 foot long pieces of wood home from Lowe’s. Yikes. Make sure you always consider this before signing on for a DIY project. Plus, don’t forget to add in the cost of a truck if you need to rent one for the day.
This one is similar to time. If you have a deadline for when the project needs to be done, then you may want to consider hiring a professional. As mentioned, Casey hired a professional to paint her condo before she moved in. But a few months later (with no deadline and more time on her hands) she decided to paint the guest room navy herself. If you need a project done pronto and don’t have the capacity to take it on yourself, then a professional may be the right choice. If you’re just doing a cosmetic upgrade with no real timeline…then you can certainly get your hands dirty and try it yourself!
Are you Going to be Happy with the Results of DIY-ing?
This is a question you really have to think about before diving into your next serious DIY project…we’re especially talking to the perfectionists tuning in! You’re probably going to be stuck looking at the results of your DIY for years and years to come, so if you are someone who may constantly critique the minor mistakes you make along the way and end up HATING the look because of it, then DIY-ing this large scale project may not be worth the money saved. If you think you will look back at this project (minor mistakes and all) with pride of how much you accomplished, then DIY-ing may be a better option for you. We know this question sounds like a silly one to ask yourself, but DIY-ing is never worth it if you’re not going to love the end result…. or even worse, hate it more than when you started!
How to Save on Professionals
If you’ve reviewed all of our considerations and think that hiring out is the best choice, then we have some tips to save money on your project.
Hire Out Certain Tasks
If you’re re-doing an entire room (like a kitchen or a bathroom), you don’t have to have the professionals do all of the work. Instead you can do a hybrid project where you take on certain tasks, yet leave the really advanced tasks to the pros. Something that just about everyone can do is demo the space themselves! Also, you can leave some of the easy tasks at the end (painting, installing towel hooks, etc) for yourself. Chat with your contractor to see if there are ways you can save.
Clear communication with your contractor is key in order to stay on the same page. The last thing you want is for him to misinterpret one of your requests and you end up with a pricey mistake. Set clear expectations on budget, timeline, and scope of project from the start so you don’t get any hidden costs when the project is all finished.
Projects You Can DIY
- Change Doorknobs
- Hang Wallpaper
- Fix Water Leaks Under Sinks
- Change a Faucet
- Install a Ceiling Fan
- Swap out Light Fixtures
- Change an Outlet
- Add Cosmetic Woodworking to Walls
- Install a Dual Flush on a Toilet
- Install a Smart Thermostat
- Fix a Screen Door
- Paint a Room
- Change out your Baseboard
- Seal your Countertops
- Changing Out a Shower Head
Did we miss any of your tried and true tips? We would love to hear how you determine what to DIY and what to hire-out in your home. Sometimes the answer is super clear, but sometimes it’s not that easy.
I’m Casey Finn, the voice behind The DIY Playbook. I’m married to Finn & mom to Rory and Ellis. Together we’re creating our dream home in Chicago, one DIY project at a time.