Home improvement: DIY or hire a pro?

Answer these 16 questions to determine who swings the hammer

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Home improvement decision of DIY or hiring a pro

(Getty Images / Stefanie Grewal)

Got a few tasks on the “honey to-do” list? Now comes the real dilemma: Should you go the do-it-yourself (DIY) route and save some money? Or should you hire a pro? A renovator who not only knows the business, but can fix those pesky problems that always seem to arise on any home improvement project.

To decide whether or not you should swing that hammer or write a cheque answer these 16 questions:

(Only answer Yes or No)

–> Do you enjoy physical work?

–> Are you persistent and patient?

–> Are you reliable—meaning, once the project is started, will you finish it?

–> Are you prepared to handle the kind of stress this project will create for your family?

–> Do you have all the tools you require? Do you have the skills to operate those tools safely and effectively?

–> What level of quality do you want from this home improvement project and are your skills at that level?

–> Do you have the time necessary to complete the project? (Rule of thumb: Always double or triple the time estimated for a DIY project, unless you are highly skilled and familiar with that particular project.)

–> Do you know all of the steps involved in the project?

–> Have you contacted any manufacturers for the installation instructions? Most manufacturers will send installation instructions before you purchase to determine whether the product will meet your needs.

–> Is this a job you can do completely by yourself or will you need assistance? (If you do need assistance, what skill level is involved for your assistant? And do you have access to skilled labour?)

–> Are you familiar with your local building codes?

–> Have you applied for your permits? (While not all home improvement projects require a permit, quite a number do and it’s important you understand when a permit is required and the ramifications to you if you skip this step. Also, most municipalities will require that certain work only be done by certified professionals, so double-check with your city’s planning department to see what you’re allowed to do by yourself and what you need to hire a professional for.)

–> What will you do if the project goes awry? (This is an important question to consider as most contractors are wary about taking on a botched DIY job and will often charge full-rate as they assume that almost everything may need to be redone.)

–> Is it safe for you to do this project? (Some jobs can be fatal if not performed correctly. Your health and safety should be the primary concern.)

–> Will you be able to obtain the materials you need? Who will be your source of supply? Will they deliver?

–> Are you attempting a do-it-yourself route for financial reasons? If so, have you looked at all of your costs, including the cost of materials, your time, and the tools you need to purchase? If you are new to the DIY game, you may also want to look at the cost to correct any mistakes you may make—and there will be mistakes. In the end, you need to know that the DIY option is still a cost-saving venture?

If you answered yes to eight (8) or more of these questions, you’ve got the green light for starting a DIY home improvement project. But before you run for the nearest Depot, revisit the questions you answered “no” to and carefully consider: How you can solve a problem in this area, should the need arise?

If, however, you answered “no” to more than half of these questions then you’ll probably want to call in the pros. Take your time when selecting a renovation contractor. Go here for tips on finding and renovator or go here for tips on choosing a renovator.

Source: Mark Pervan, General Contractor, Henge Homes Inc. and the U.S.-based National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI)
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