Dear Claire: Should I Go DIY or Hire a Professional?
DIY vs. Professional: Making the Right Choice for Home Projects
It’s often hard to choose, to be honest with you. So, I think at the end of the day, this question is going to be up to you specifically and what you feel comfortable with. There’s a lot of companies, like Home Depot, that have all kinds of do-it-yourself classes. YouTube has a crazy amount of classes that you can take online to figure it out. I often go to This Old House to check things out as far as how you fix things. So I think it also depends on how brave you are, one, and then, two whether you can live with imperfection, because no matter what you do, it’s not going to be perfect. It’s not going to be anywhere close to perfect. It’s not going to look like the person who does it every day, day after day.
Let me give you an example. Gardening is a perfect example. If you don’t mind experimenting, you don’t need to hire someone to garden. However, it’s very likely that the plants you put in to make your house look beautiful may not work in our climate. They might not be the right match for the soil. They might be small. So it’s going to take time for them to grow big and beautiful like you want them. That’s one small example where you might say, “Yeah, of course, it’s going to take significantly more time to get it right,” but you’re going to instantaneously know that you will get the look you want with experimentation.
Now, if you can’t afford it, you can’t afford it, and if you’ve got to do it yourself that’s just the way it’s going to be. There are plenty of projects that I’ve done before myself and you know, you see the imperfections, but most people do not. I’ll give you an example. When I bought my first house with my brother, we refinished all the hardwood floors ourselves. We rented the sanders and bought all the sandpaper and got the polyurethane and did it all ourselves. And when I look through that house, I can still see divots where we first put down the sander and said, “Whoa, that thing took off the wood in a way that none of us were expecting!” And so, you know there’s a divot in the wood. Does anyone see it besides me? Probably not, but you know, those are the fun things that you get to tell stories about. If you can live with it, then it’s not that big of a deal.
Another example I’ll give you is when we laid out our own kitchen. We didn’t ask anyone to help us with that. I had my Mom, who is an interior designer, lay it out for me and she had specified the size of each of the cabinets and we went to the discount cabinet store. And the cabinet store didn’t have one size that she had specified, and we said, “What’s the difference? We’ll just make one smaller and add another one to make that distance. It should be fine.” So, we get the cabinets back to the house and we start putting them where they’re supposed to be and, ”Oh, yeah. Now I understand why my Mom did that.” What happened was the cabinet was originally designed to be centered on the window and it was no longer centered on the window. And so now we have the stove like halfway into the window. Is it something you would notice if you went to my house? Probably not, however, I see it every freaking day when I look at it. So invariably, if you do it yourself, there’s going to be those kinds of mistakes that you’re just going to have to say, “I learned something about it and I learned from it.” And now you know, but there’s no remedying it once that’s done.
For big projects like kitchen remodels and tile jobs, you’ll want to consider whether you will do it yourself or have a professional do it. I know everybody thinks they can do tile work, but you’re going to be able to see it. There’s going to be some three-dimensionality to your tile work. It’s not going to be straight. It’s not going to look like a professional did it. Do you care? That’s really the biggest question.
The only other tip I would like to give you is that for stuff that’s mechanical or electrical, you should probably hire a professional. If you’re installing a new hot water heater, unless your uncle is a plumber, I probably wouldn’t do it myself. However, if you feel comfortable, go for it. Try it. See how it goes. Electrical, same thing. I won’t do electrical. It’s just too scary but there’s plenty of people out there that I know that do their own electrical and it’s perfectly fine. So it just depends on what the risk is that you’re willing to take and what you can live with.
At the end of the day, this is pretty much the best advice I can give you. If you do need any references for professionals though, I have a whole directory that I’m happy to share with you and I wish you the best in your spring projects! Take care, and we’ll see you next time.
Have more questions or want professional advice on buying or selling a home?
Contact us at [email protected] or (503) 926-5213. We’re here to address all your real estate needs!