Do It Yourself, Or Not?

Decorating, Home, Home & Family
on October 7, 2007

Just because you can tackle a home project yourself doesn’t mean you should. Here’s a quick look at which projects are right for you and which ones are best left to a professional.

Try these at home

  • Grab a brush. Painting is the most popular homeowner project because you can save more than half of what a professional would charge and it requires minimal equipment. Compared with $35-a-roll wallpaper or pricey ceramic tile, a gallon of paint is a bargain at $25. Painting lets you learn on the job because you can paint over mistakes. Wallpaper and tile, however, aren’t so forgiving.
  • Tedious labor. Removing wallpaper is a no-brainer and will save you a whopping 84 percent of what a contractor would charge. Another tedious but doable job is stripping varnish off dark paneling, which can save you 75 percent. These are projects homeowners can attempt because they involve more time than talent and a low investment in tools.
  • Cleanup. Power washing your deck or steam cleaning your carpet will save you almost half of what a cleaning service would charge, because the only cost is renting the equipment. Outside yard maintenance such as mowing and landscaping is another example of you providing the labor.
  • Small jobs. You may have no choice when it comes to repairing a torn window screen or installing mini-blinds. These are considered nuisance jobs by contractors, who can spend more time traveling to your house than actually doing the job. Hire a professional
  • Messy and disruptive. Although you can save 76 percent by hanging your own wallboard, it’s a multistep process that needs to be finished as quickly as possible to shorten the time your household is in disarray. Thinking of refinishing your floors? Don’t be lured by saving 64 percent of the professional fee. The savings are not worth the inconvenience of emptying and storing all the furnishings of a room and the possibility of damaging the floor with a sander. Time is money, and the faster these jobs are done, the better.
  • Dangerous. Roofing is definitely a job for the pros because it’s dangerous and difficult work. Hauling heavy shingles up a ladder is strenuous even for the most physically fit. Despite the 45 percent savings, use your talents and time to do projects closer to the ground.
  • Building inspector approval. Even though you can save 44 percent by installing a surge protection device in your main circuit breaker, you’re better off hiring an electrician. The same is true of plumbing work. You may save money by installing a backup sump pump, but you probably don’t have the know-how. Hire a licensed electrician or plumber for any work that requires an inspection by your local building codes department. A professional has the skill, tools and experience to do the job right.