The home improvement shows make it look SO easy. Shiplap. Barn doors. Bamboo floors. More shiplap. And who wouldn’t want to take a sledgehammer to the kitchen cabinets that haven’t been fashionable since before disco died?
But take a deep breath before you hit the lumber yard. Some projects can be easily tackled on your own, while others should be left to the professionals. How do you know when to call in the experts? Here’s a handy chart to help you choose the right option, no matter the project.
The Case for DIY
A lot of projects that add value and livability to a home just require time and effort, not a particular expertise. And with the proliferation of DIY videos on social media, odds are good you can find step-by-step instructions to change out a bathroom faucet or install window treatments. The most reasonable approach is to ask yourself a simple question before diving in: “What’s the worst that can happen?”
If the answer is, “That curtain rod won’t be perfectly level” or “It will take multiple tries to balance this ceiling fan,” you’re probably safe to proceed. In some cases, the worst-case scenario is that you’ll eventually have to bring in a pro to fix something you did incorrectly.
But if the worst-case scenario is “Faulty wiring could burn the house down” or “Breaking a pipe could mean damaged drywall, carpet, and floorboards,” you’re better off hiring a professional right off the bat.
The Case for Hiring a Pro
Plumbers and electricians go through years of specialized training, apprenticeship, and licensing exams. They are experienced in navigating permitting processes (if required), and they are equipped with the staffing and equipment to handle complex jobs. They should also carry insurance to compensate you if a job goes wrong. (Check before you hire!) Roofers are similarly licensed and insured, and they likely have more experience maneuvering on rooftops than you do.
Which brings up another point: If the worst-case scenario ends in a trip to the emergency room and possibly a lengthy physical recovery, you’re better off trusting a pro.
Of course, sometimes it makes sense to hire a professional regardless of your ability to complete a project. Some projects are messy, time consuming, or both, or they may require you to buy tools you’ll never use again. Bottom line: Don’t feel bad about bringing in outside expertise so you can spend time on things you enjoy more.