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DIY or Hire a Professional: Tough Call

Today’s post is courtesy of our friends eBuilders.com and specifically writer Chuck Nibblere.  eBuilders is an online resource for finding contractors and learning about building materials .  In this post, Chuck takes on the very important question of how to judge whether your project is something you can take on yourself, or whether it’s better, and ultimately more cost-efficient, to hire a professional contractor…


When it comes to your home improvement and home renovation projects, there are only two ways to get the job done. You can either do it yourself, or you can hire a contractor to do the work for you.  Personal pride aside, it can sometimes be quite difficult to determine when you are capable of completing a home renovation project yourself, or you need the help of a professional. The increased use of the internet as a resource for the DIY’er has led to more people feeling they are capable of completing most, if not all, projects around the house.

Unfortunately, that is simply not the case. The truth of the matter is that many renovation projects require the help of a trained professional in order to be completed properly, presenting in some cases a safety risk to amateurs attempting to complete the work. This article will help you to recognize situations in which you’ll need a professional contractor, and those in which you will be able to complete your home renovation project on your own.

Knowing Yourself | Signs You Can Complete a Project

You’ve Done it Before

Experience is one of the main factors in deciding whether you should complete a project on your own. Bluntly, if you have never completed a certain project before and have no prior experience with home renovation projects, you are already behind the eight ball. If however, you have completed said project in the past, or are contemplating a project requiring the same skills as those which you have used previously, then you can feel comfortable completing the project on your own. Furthermore, if you have taken classes that have taught you the proper skills, steps and techniques to complete your desired project, you should be able to avoid needing professional help with it.

It Requires Simple, General Tasks

Having the confidence to be able to complete a home renovation task on your own is one thing; however having the proper skill set to complete a project is another story. If you are a complete novice, there is simply no way you are going to properly renovate a bathroom on your first try, you will make costly errors. On the other hand, if a couple of your fence boards have fallen off, even a novice handyman has the skill required to hold a nail and swing a hammer in order to fix the fence. Essentially, if a project requires simple tasks, such as hammering, drilling or painting, then you can feel confident in being able to complete the task on your own.

Safety  Risks are  Minimized

If you find yourself in a situation where you feel the safety risks of a project are beyond your comfort level; that is a sure sign that you need to consider asking for professional help. Conversely, if you feel that you are comfortable with the safety risks and are adequately prepared to handle any consequences, you can feel confident completing the project on your own.

Knowing When to Get Help | Signs You Cannot Complete a Project

You Do Not Understand the Steps Required

Simply stated, if you are in a situation where you have been presented with a task or have decided to undertake one, and you have no clue where to begin, you are going to want to ask a professional contractor. Further, if you happen to have the basic skills required to complete the project and the directions/steps in front of you and yet you do not understand what the instructions are telling you to do, it is time to ask a professional for help. At the end of the day a professional can help you through projects that you either do not understand or do not feel comfortable completing on your own.

It Requires Proper Certification in Order to Complete the Project ‘To Code’

When it comes to the more serious elements of home renovation, such as electrical work or plumbing work, professional certification is often legally required in order to complete the project up to ‘code’. These types of trades require certain procedures be followed in particular situations in order to ensure that the work passes a building inspection and is safe to live in. If you are undertaking work of this nature, then you will need the help of a licensed professional such as a <a href=’http://www.ebuilders.com/contractors/’>plumbing contractor</a>, in order to complete the project accordingly. Avoiding these professionals could lead to safety risks, insurance penalties and legal sanctions both during and after the project is ‘completed’.

You Do Not Feel Comfortable Handling the Equipment Required, Nor Do You Feel Safe Completing the Project

Of course, safety is always the priority when it comes to any sort of construction project. When looking at all the steps and techniques required to complete a project, even if you know you are capable of completing them, but are uncomfortable with the safety risks, you should ask for professional help. Professional contractors have the knowhow to minimize safety risks and in many cases this involves having the proper safety equipment required to safely complete a project. So, unless you are 100% comfortable handling the required equipment and feel completely safe completing the project, you should consult with a professional.


Chuck Nibblere is a lead writer for www.ebuilders.com and is an advocate for safety when completing home renovation projects.

Thanks, Chuck.

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