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Hiring a Professional Contractor vs. DIY

When you purchase a home, you are taking on a plethora of expenses other than your down payment. Many consider these expenses to be worth it since the average net worth of a homeowner is more than thirty times greater than that of a renter. These expenses include homeowner’s insurance, property tax, utilities, and repairs. For home repairs alone, homeowners generally spend between one to two percent of the total price of their home on repairs every year, according to Wells Fargo, a bank and mortgage lender. However, this price estimate only includes routine maintenance and does not factor in major remodels. According to HomeAdvisor, it costs an average of 20 thousand dollars to remodel a kitchen, 15 thousand dollars to remodel a basement, and nine thousand dollars for a bathroom.

For many home renovations, labor is the largest expense involved. According to information compiled by the National Association of Realtors on HouseLogic, labor is the most expensive part of nine out of ten common home repairs. In some cases, the cost of labor outnumbers the cost of materials considerably. For instance, the material required for repairing a door that is out of alignment costs approximately five dollars. However, the cost of labor is 30 to 125 dollars an hour for a handyman, in addition to a possible minimum charge of 150 to 350 dollars.

When deciding whether or not you need to hire some professional contractors for home improvement, you should consider the type of project, its complexity, and your level of expertise or skill, as well as the available time you have to work on the project.

For many home repairs, you can forgo the cost of labor by completing the home repair or remodel on your own, without hiring contractors for home improvement. However, the trick is deciding whether or not you can complete the task on your own. As a rule of thumb, more knowledge-based or labor-intensive tasks such as electrical work, plumbing, pouring concrete, or tile setting should be done by a skilled electrician, plumber, or another professional, while jobs such as painting, replacing cabinets, or insulating an attic can be done on your own.

You may be wondering what other home improvement tasks you can do on your own and which require a professional contractor. This depends on many other factors, including your skill level, expertise, available time, and the overall cost. When deciding whether or not you should do it yourself, you should also consider safety.

Consider Safety First

There are three major reasons a task is too dangerous to do yourself:

It could potentially be fatal. Botching a job such as electrical work or roofing could potentially be fatal or result in serious injury, leaving you bedridden and in need of home care. Jobs like these are best suited for professional contractors for home improvement who are trained to handle the dangers involved. For example, replacing an electric water heater is a job you might be able to do yourself. On the other hand, replacing a gas water heater is a job for a professional since cutting into gas lines could possibly lead to explosion, fire, or poisoning if you are not careful.

It could cause major destruction. Botching a major plumbing job such as moving a bath fixture could potentially destroy your home. If the fixture is not properly installed or tightened, it could result in a water leak. If the leak remains unnoticed for long enough, it could weaken the wall to the point that it collapses. This is also a possibility if you hire professional contractors for home improvement, but in this case, the plumbing service or plumbing contractor would be responsible and forced to pay for the damages.

The job requires a permit. If a job requires a building permit, it is likely too complicated a job to do yourself. A building permit is a document that says a construction job was done safely and up to all standards. Every city or municipality has laws dictating what jobs require permits and which do not. These laws also dictate how much they cost and how easy they are to obtain. In a few areas, it is fairly straightforward for a homeowner to acquire a building permit to do home improvement work themselves. In other areas, you can only acquire a building permit if you have hired licensed contractors for home improvement. However, just because you can get a permit, does not mean you can do the work yourself. Oftentimes, the fact you need a permit is a sign you should not be doing the job on your own.

Leaving It To A Professional

There are a few other reasons to opt for hiring professional contractors for home improvement jobs:

Mistakes could cost you even more. Even if there are no issues of safety involved, hiring professional contractors for home improvement jobs can be a wise investment. If you decide to go ahead and do it yourself, yet you are not sure what you are doing, you will likely need the services of a professional contractor later on down the road to fix your mistakes. In this case, doing it yourself did not save you money. Instead, it cost you twice as much for one job. For instance, if you choose not to hire an asphalt paving company and decide to pave your driveway yourself, you might have to pay for crack sealing later on down the road to fix your mistakes.

It could affect the value of your home. Real estate brokers warn that shoddy do it yourself work can be a serious aversion for potential buyers, even if you splurge on the best quality materials. For instance, even the most expensive bathroom tile will appear cheap if it is not installed correctly.

Calculating Your Costs and Savings

To figure out whether or not it is worth it to do a job yourself, you need to estimate both the time and cost involved and calculate the savings per hour.

Get a professional estimate. Begin by finding out how much it would cost to get the job done professionally. You can do this by getting a quick quote from a professional home improvement contractor. There are also plenty of websites that ask you to provide the job you want to be done and your ZIP code and then will estimate the price for you based on survey data from other homeowners in your area.

Calculate the cost to do it yourself. After getting a professional estimate, you need to calculate how much it would cost to do the job yourself. Do not forget to include the price for tools, materials, or permits, if necessary. Add all these costs up to determine the total do it yourself price.

Factor in the time required. Estimating the time is a lot more difficult than the cost since the time you spend on a home improvement job will largely depend on your skill level and experience. There are plenty of online resources or home improvement books that will provide an estimate of how long a job will take based on your level of experience.

Estimate Your Hourly Wage. After you have estimated your potential savings and the time required, divide your savings by the time to determine how much money you can save per hour of work. Or to look at it a different way, this is how much you can make per hour. Then, you can decide if it is worth it to work for that wage. For instance, rewiring a basement is a job that will likely take weeks or months to do yourself, while a professional electrician can finish it in one day.

Saving Money on Home Improvement

Whether you are hiring professional contractors for home improvement or doing it yourself, there will be a cost. For a do it yourself job, the largest investment will be your time. When hiring a professional contractor, it will be money. In both of these cases, however, you will want to save as much money as possible. With just a few tips, you can ensure you are making a wise investment with both your money and time.

Saving Money on Contractors For Home Improvement

Doing it yourself is a great way to save money on home improvement projects, but there are also a few ways to keep costs down when hiring a professional contractor:

Opt for high return projects. Some repairs are essential, but most remodels are not. To get the most return out of your remodeling jobs, opt for renovation projects that add the most value to your home. This includes a manufactured stone veneer, a new steel entry door, or a garage door replacement done by a professional garage door company. A siding or roofing replacement are a few other high return projects. With these projects, you can expect to recoup almost the entire cost when it is time to sell. Avoid renovation projects like adding a sunroom, upscale master suite, or upscale bathroom. You can expect to lose half the total cost of these projects during resale.

Communicate with your contractor. Many of the issues that arise when working with a contractor stem from a lack of communication, according to Consumer Reports. Before the job is started, layout some clear guidelines regarding working conditions, working hours, cleanup, and where to direct any questions. If a problem does arise, address it immediately with your contractor. Clear communication both ways will help you avoid any problems.

Do your own demolition and cleanup. Even when doing an entire job yourself is not feasible, you can still save money by doing parts of the job yourself. If you can swing a sledgehammer, for example, you can handle the demolition step yourself since it does not require the skill or expertise of a professional contractor. You can also save money by cleaning up yourself after the demolition as well as at the end of the project. You can also add any finishing touches yourself at the end of the project, such as painting or power washing your deck or siding. By only paying a professional contractor for parts of a project that require their particular skill or expertise, you save a significant sum of money.

Saving Money on Do It Yourself Jobs

Although cheaper than hiring professional contractors for home improvement, doing a job yourself can get quite expensive considering the cost of tools, materials, or permits, if necessary. However, there are a few ways to keep costs down and get the best value out of doing the job yourself:

Learn how to do it yourself. Before you think about tackling a home improvement job, you need to know how it should be done. Today, you do not necessarily need experience to complete home improvement tasks. There are plenty of online resources that can teach you everything you need to know about simple home repair jobs like fixing a leaky faucet, a clogged drain, or a screechy door hinge. After you practice certain skills and build your confidence with these tasks, you can move on to larger ones like building a bookshelf, replacing a toilet, or installing well pumps.

Save on building materials. You can save on various building materials for your home improvement project, such as cabinets, doors, windows, or bathroom fixtures, by looking at a reuse store. These stores take leftover or unwanted materials from other projects and sell them at a great discount. If your do it yourself project requires a special tool, you should look into buying it secondhand from a local garage sale, online, or renting it from a home improvement store to save money.

Deciding between doing a job yourself or hiring a professional contractor should be more than just a matter of money. You should consider safety, speed, hassle, and the quality of work. These various factors are the reasons why many homeowners often decide to hire professional contractors for home improvement, despite the increase in cost. For many homeowners, doing it themselves comes with the added benefit of feeling prideful in their work.

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