Here’s How to Know Whether or Not to Do It Yourself


Pay no attention to the multi-million dollar marketing campaigns from the big home improvement stores that strive endlessly to get you in over your head with projects around the house. They say you can do it. But they tell you nothing about the requisite skills for the job you want to do. They say they will help. But the only thing they will help you with is selling even more stuff to get you in even deeper than you already are.

When a home improvement project looks too easy, you should be suspicious. Before embarking on any project, you should ask yourself what could possibly go wrong, and carefully evaluate those possibilities. Do-it-yourself is a thriving industry, but whether or not to do it yourself can be a difficult and costly decision. Considering what could go wrong is the first tip. Here are a few more:

Avoid the Dangerous Jobs

How much is your safety worth? The money you potentially save by doing it yourself will likely not cover the hospital bills if something goes terribly wrong. So you have to evaluate if there is an element of real danger to the job you want to do. If you are dealing with electrical wiring, there is definitely an element of danger. That danger is mitigated by contracting professional installation services that include trained people who are certified to handle the job in question.

Electricity is not the only dangerous element you can work with around the house. A potentially greater danger is making modifications to a load-bearing structure. It may seem like a good idea to take out that wall and expand the kitchen. But there may be a very good reason that wall is there. If you don’t know enough about architecture, you could literally bring down the house. For this reason, it is best to leave dangerous projects to the experts.

DIY When the Worst Thing That Can Happen Isn’t So Bad

When you ask yourself about the worst thing that could happen, the answer might surprise you. Not all negative outcomes are devastating. The most common negative outcome is that you end up wasting a lot of time and money. If you have it to spare, even a failed project can be a valuable learning experience that ensures more success the next time you try it.

Painting is a great DIY project for beginners and the risk-averse. When done, you might determine the outcome looks hideous. No problem. You can still hire a professional to come in and do it right. It is the kind of project that can yield surprisingly good results even for the first-timer. The key to painting is preparation. Slapping paint on a wall is easy. Keeping it confined to the wall is the challenge. Tape, tarp, and time are your three best painting pals. Have at it.

Does It Usually Cost a Lot of Money for a Professional?

There are some jobs that seem to always cost a lot of money. That is money you would very much like to save. But first, you should consider why that job demands so much money. Plumbers are expensive for a reason. All you have to do is suffer one plumbing disaster to realize it. Likewise, there are good reasons why HVAC installers are well-paid.

It is dangerous to just presume that people who charge a lot for what they do are just greedy. If that was the case, competitive forces would have pushed the prices down a long time ago. Part of the reason for the cost is the time and training it requires to become proficient at the task. Another reason might be access to specialized equipment. Another reason is specialized knowledge of regulations that will affect the viability of the project. These are all valuable assets.

There are plenty of jobs you probably could do, but a too dangerous to take the risk. Other jobs you could completely botch and suffer very little by way of consequences. And before you try to save money on a job that is typically very expensive, find out why it is expensive before you try and do it yourself.