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Home Renovations: When To DIY

Upon moving into a new or new-to-you home, most owners are ready to put their personal touch on the space. Some homeowners buy with the intention of renovations and other times homeowners just simply have a desire to change things up as time goes by.

If you’re considering renovating any area of your home, it’s important to look at the realities of remodeling before you start knocking down walls and tearing up carpet. Here are some important things to consider:

  1. What is your budget? How much will materials cost? Obviously this will determine how much you can actually spend on labor and if hiring a professional is even a possibility.
  2. What kind of equipment will you need and do you have one available to you? Sometimes renting or even buying the equipment needed to complete a project is cheaper than labor.
  3. What is your skill set? Are you comfortable using saws or working other machinery? Taking accurate measurements? Paying attention to detail?
  4. How well do you follow direction? Believe it or not, even if you have no clue how to use a certain type of machinery or have never completed any home improvement tasks, there are great instructions written on websites as well as tutorials that can be found on manufacturer’s sites and, you guessed it, YouTube. These are not the same flashy project examples you might find on television, but real, bare bones, step-by-step instruction.
  5. How patient are you? This is probably the biggest one. There are going to be hiccups during every project and they usually take longer than expected. Don’t have the patience for it? It is highly recommended you pay someone else to do it.

Check out the following tips and things to consider before you decide to DIY –


Painting – DIY or Professional?

This is one of the most simple and inexpensive projects that can make a big impact in your home. The tools needed to complete a painting project are also relatively inexpensive. Unless the area being painted requires a scaffold or ladder that you are not comfortable working on, this is almost always a DIY project. Check out your local home improvement stores for free painting tutorial classes if you’ve never painted before.

Tiling – DIY or Professional?

Depending on your comfort level with the use of a saw (and the availability of buying or renting a wet saw), this a fairly simple DIY project. Be sure to ask your local home improvement store for tips and watch/follow any available tutorials you find online.

Cabinetry – DIY or Professional?

This depends on exactly what you’d like to do. If your cabinets are in good to decent shape, painting is a great option. Painting is easy and inexpensive. Paint sprayers are available for rent and to buy at many local home improvement stores and this will give your cabinets a clean and smooth finish. Cabinets should be cleaned with heavy duty cleaner, sanded, primed, and painted. If you are looking to install new cabinetry, be sure to research what you’re getting into before you decide to DIY – leveling and securing cabinets is more complicated than you might assume.

Electrical – DIY or Professional?

Aside from installing new light fixtures, this is a project suited best for certified professionals. Hiring out is the best way to ensure your home is safe from fire hazards and the electrical is kept up to code.

Layout – DIY or Professional?

Again, this depends on exactly what you’d like to accomplish. Have a contractor come out to determine if the project is doable and find out if any walls are load-bearing. If a wall is load-bearing but can still be removed as long as a beam is installed, it is most likely best to hire a professional. They will know the appropriate size and proper installation of the new beam.

Wood Flooring – DIY or Professional?

For most places, the cost to install flooring per square foot is the same as the cost of the actual flooring per square foot. If you do not want to or cannot spend this extra money on labor, installing hard wood or laminate flooring can be a fairly simple task. It just might take a little longer. Consider, your comfort level with a miter and table saw, removing and reinstalling floor boards, and patience level. Many big box stores and flooring stores will help you with how to install.

Carpeting – DIY or Professional?

This is best left to the professionals. Though most carpet installation is simple and quick, actually getting the large rolls of carpet in your home and cut to size can be more complicated than you think. (If you cut short on one end of the carpet, the carpet cannot be used for the room.) Carpet installation can be done quickly and at a fair price if left to the professionals. If this is something you must DIY, consider carpet tiles.

Countertops – DIY or Professional?

This depends on the type of countertops you would like to purchase. Heavy stones like marble and granite can be challenging to get to and in the home. Cutting them down to size and polishing edges also requires some experience and technique. Other types of countertops like butcher block can be easily cut to size and installed at home. Laminate countertops are also easier to DIY. Ask the professionals if you are unsure what kind of countertop can be installed by the homeowner.

Landscape – DIY or Professional?

If don’t have much experience with plants and trees, look online for pictures that depict the look you’re going for then take it to your local nursery to see what plants are available in your area. Re-landscaping is a dirty and labor intensive job but will save you money if you choose to do it yourself. If you’re landscaping project requires heavy machinery or tractors, consider hiring out or check locally for rentals in the area.


When in doubt or unsure of what to do, ask the professionals for guidance. They’ll be able to help steer you in the right direction.

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