30 Nov

DIY or Hire an Expert?


Posted by: Deborah Fehr

Many homeowners these days are willing to get their hands dirty with home improvement projects in the hopes of saving money – especially with the fabulous free courses being run by many home improvement superstores on an ongoing basis.

But although some projects can be tackled by homeowners, the do-it-yourself (DIY) route isn’t always the most economical – or safest, for that matter.

It’s often difficult to determine if a project entails more than you can realistically handle. Most people tend to gauge the complexity of a project by doing research online, as some DIY websites grade a project’s difficulty. But you should also look at the tools that are required for the job. If you come across complex tools you know little about, it may be best to call in an expert.

If you’re unsure about your ability to correctly finish a project, get an expert opinion before proceeding. Sometimes, you may end up spending more money to repair a bungled DIY job than if you had hired someone to do it right from the onset of the project.

Following are some examples of when you may want to consider turning to a pro:

When safety is an issue. Getting involved with your home’s electrical system can be risky. Not only could you be electrocuted, but doing a job incorrectly could also create a safety hazard within your home’s structure. Another often unsafe DIY project includes extending a gas line. If you don’t know how to check for gas leaks, for instance, this DIY project could lead to an explosion or carbon monoxide poisoning. As well, if you’re considering tackling a project that involves heights, make sure you have the know-how to safely complete the job or call in an expert. Even some power tools can be beyond your capabilities and result in serious injury or death. It’s always important to remember that potential money savings aren’t worth risking safety.

When water is involved. Leaks and water damage can lead to more costly and complicated repairs. If left unfixed, they can lead to mould, which affects air quality and, if found during an inspection, can be a deal breaker on a home sale. Water-related projects don’t have to strictly involve your home’s pipes. Putting in a skylight may seem like a DIY job you can handle. Do it incorrectly, however, and you could end up with a leaky roof, water damage and mould.

If the costs of materials or tools are too high. Sometimes the costs of materials and the expense associated with making a mistake are enough to make hiring an expert a no-brainer. For something like crown moulding, for instance, you need an expensive tool and the material itself is costly. A kitchen cabinet can cost a couple hundred dollars and, if you order incorrectly, there may be a restocking fee and special orders may be non-returnable. Being off on measurements for granite countertops can also prove to be a costly error.

If the project is too big. If you’re planning on replacing all the windows in your home or remodelling your kitchen, think twice about how much of the project you want to take on yourself. Often, you can leave the heavy lifting to the experts, and work on the finishing touches, such as painting or tiling backsplashes. But, while installing hardwood or laminate flooring can be a good DIY project, its complexity will largely be determined by its scale. For instance, installing laminate flooring in a small, square bedroom is often manageable for homeowners to do on their own. But doing a larger-scale flooring project – involving a transition between rooms or perhaps around a kitchen island – is where people often get tripped up.

If you decide to call in an expert, make sure you do your research, get multiple quotes, ask friends and family for referrals and check references. Unfortunately, there are many contractors who claim to know what they’re doing and then get in over their heads, which could end up costing you in the end as well.

Remember that when doing renovations, I may be able to help find an economical financing solution for you by accessing your home equity