DIY vs. hiring a contractor for home improvement

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DIY vs. hiring a contractor for home improvement
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Knowing your limitations may be the best skill a DIYer can have!

Being handy around the house is one of the greatest assets a person can have. Fixing that leaky faucet or repairing those sagging gutters can save you money and frustration. But what separates the best DIYers from the pack is knowing their limitations. No one is an expert on everything, and there are just some projects that are best suited for professionals.

Your Available Time

One of the first things you should consider when deciding whether to tackle a project yourself or to hire a contractor is the amount of time you have to spend on your project. If your job has you working 50 hours a week, that doesn't leave you much time to work on your own project. Those granite counter tops you're putting in can become a nightmare if your kitchen is inaccessible for three weeks.

The Finished Look

Many DIY projects can be broken down into two major areas: function and form. A lot of us do really well with the "function" portion of a project, but fall short when it comes to "form." Finishing a basement may seem easy, but if your baseboard joints leave gaps or your electrical outlets aren't flush with the wall, the project will scream of a bad DIY job.

Tool Inventory

Most of the time the motivation for doing something yourself is saving money. But if you don't have the tools you need (or can't borrow them from someone else), DIY projects can easily end up costing more than hiring the work out in the first place. Renting is an option for some larger power tools, but it's often the little, specialized tools that break the bank.

Consider a Partial DIY

If you just can't stand the thought of hiring a job out, but recognize you aren't equipped to do the whole thing yourself, why not consider a partial DIY job? Chances are you can complete much of the work yourself but just need a professional for some of the more technical or intricate work. To do this you need to hire your contractor first, and sit down with them to draw up a list of tasks and fit them into a timetable. From there you should easily be able to pick and choose what you will do and what will be left for them.

Don't Scrimp on Permits and Inspections

One of the advantages of hiring a licensed professional is that they will ensure you get all the necessary permits and inspections for your job. These are serious requirements with legal and safety ramifications and shouldn't be dismissed as bureaucratic nonsense. Skipping a required permit can result in hundreds of dollars in fines, as well as having to demolish an expensive project. Skipping an inspection could result in serious property damage or personal injury.

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