Deciding whether you should hire a professional for your home remodeling project or try it yourself requires a thorough understanding of what the job entails. Some gung-ho homeowners are willing to jump headfirst into a job, assuming they have the skills necessary to do it right without worrying about cost, time, or difficulty. It’s understandable — after all, you want to save as much money as possible, which often translates as DIY.
Other people automatically hand the work over to a contractor, even if it’s something that could easily be done in an afternoon, or over a weekend. As with any financial decision, you should always gather as much information as possible.
When you’re pricing contractors, ask what it’ll take to update your guest bathroom or put a new privacy fence. Many will be honest and tell you if what you’re planning is not too difficult or work-intensive. Don’t make the mistake of basing your decision based on cost alone. A project that doesn’t have a big price tag may require more technical knowledge and ability than you possess. Determine whether you’re capable of handling it yourself. If not, you’ll need to make the right choice when it comes to hiring a professional.
What am I getting into?
Ask yourself a few questions: Under what circumstances should I try to do the work myself? Would I be risking doing serious structural damage if I take it on? Do I really have the time and money I need? Once you’ve answered these questions, you might be ready to give it a shot, especially if you have enough patience to work through the rough spots and to learn as you go.
There’s more to remodeling a bathroom or kitchen than purchasing the required materials. You may also need to buy the right tools, which may represent a significant expense before you lay down your first tile. You could end up needing everything from a hammer and crowbar to an electric saw. Have a good idea of the total cost. For example, the average cost of a kitchen remodel is $19,589.
Bear in mind that bathrooms aren’t always what they seem. You could wade into a DIY remodel ready to smash and tear, but if you unwittingly damage the pipes, you’ll be hiring a contractor whether you want to or not. You also need to find out if there’s any electrical wiring behind the walls before you begin.
Get the 411
Finding the right professional for your remodeling project means looking for someone who’s experienced and has a good track record in the kind of work you want done. Before you hire someone to put a new roof on your house, you’ll need to know if they have a good track record, how much the work will cost, what if anything they’ll need from you, how long it’ll take, and so on. A good place to start is by asking someone you trust, either family, friends or co-workers, anyone with firsthand knowledge. You might also check with a home inspector.
Take your time gathering information over the phone from a list of contractors you’re considering. Once you’ve narrowed the list down, meet with them in person. Most contractors will come out to see what you’re planning and spend some time answering questions in person. It’s good way to get a feel for someone before you entrust them with your home and resources. If they expect you to pay more than 10 percent of the upfront cost, you may want to go a different direction.
Preparing for a home remodeling project requires a great deal of advance work. That means investigating professionals, understanding the scope of your project, checking references. You may find that you can handle it yourself, but make sure you have all the facts before you make that kind of decision.
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