We’re fans of taking the DIY repair route whenever possible. In fact, you’d be surprised at what you can do on your own with just a little encouragement. However, there’s still some tasks we’d advise leaving to the professionals. How do you tell the difference? Here’s our ultimate guide to deciding when to DIY, and when to call in the experts.
Don’t forget to ‘pay yourself’ when considering quotes
It’s very easy to get a repair quote and decide you can do it for less. Most of the time, you will be right. It’s perfectly possible to do most DIY jobs for less money than a professional will quote you for. However, it’s important to remember that the lower price tag is generally because you aren’t paying yourself for the labor involved. Up to 75% of the average home renovation quote is labor. This is acceptable for many people; you’d rather use $450 of supplies from Home Depot and do it yourself as opposed to spending $4,000 on a contractor. All the same, it’s worth weighing the value of your time when considering any DIY job. Are you truly happy with your personal labor cost? Will a longer job that eats up your time be an issue as the project progresses? These are factors you should consider as you evaluate your project. While someone may enjoy tackling a huge project like fully landscaping their property, others may work longer hours and not have the time available to complete larger projects timeously. The aggravation factor of the job may outweigh the on-paper savings. Be sure to factor in your time when making your decision. Just because a job can be done on your own doesn’t mean it’s a good fit for you.
Will you really save money?
Another key consideration is whether you really will save money by taking the DIY route. It’s worth considering how many specialist tools you would need to buy or rent to get the job done, and how much expertise you would require to do it right. It’s easy to think you can repair a plumbing issue yourself, only to find yourself calling an emergency plumber in the middle of the night when the pipes burst because you didn’t know what you were doing.
Don’t rush to conclusions. Instead, spend some time looking at YouTube videos or tutorials for the job, and decide if you feel confident doing it. Consider the tools you’ll need and the cost to buy or rent them. Will you use them again, or is this a once-off? Can you rent or loan them to keep the price down? Once you’ve given things a proper site inspection with knowledge and care, you’ll know whether you will really save money on a DIY job, or risk costing yourself more to fix your mess up like these poor souls on BoredPanda.
Decide if a piece is worth saving
Another potential DIY trap is getting caught up in rescuing trash. Perhaps you’ve watched a lot of furniture renovation tutorials, and are all fired up about the potential renovation you can do to that chair you picked up on the curb. People can do miraculous things to rescue old, dull, or out-of-date furniture, especially if the piece carries sentimental value. Is that piece genuinely going to fit into your life, though, or would it be better to make a quick visit to Kasala or other furniture shops to find something beautiful, trendy, and synchronized with your other furniture pieces?
This applies to fixtures, as well. Perhaps you can stop a leak in the tap, repair the water geyser, or get the oven working again. However, it’s always worth considering if that’s the best option, or if it’s time to look for a replacement instead. Although this will typically carry a greater cost, you may save yourself a lot of money and frustration down the line. Everything in your home has a finite lifespan, and it’s acceptable to acknowledge that. When you invest in new fittings, whether it’s boilers, geysers, or other big-ticket items, it's a smart procedure to research average lifespans and make a note of them. This way, you will be forewarned when a major home fitting is coming to the end of its working life.
What sort of projects can I do on my own?
Now you know how to decide if a DIY job is right for you, let’s look at the jobs we’d always advise you to tackle DIY. You might be surprised what you can do yourself.
It’s always worth trying to fix leaky pipes or blocked drains yourself. Most normal household plumbing issues will be fully fixable on your own. However, be prepared to hand things over to a professional if something goes wrong. The same goes for general maintenance tasks and functional issues like clogged garbage disposals, running toilets, and small fixture replacements (such as light fittings and taps). You can also typically install smaller electronics like doorbells and garden fountains yourself. Larger electronic tasks should usually be left to a pro. Grouting, and even laying tiles or wood flooring can also be done DIY fairly easily and with good results. Laminate flooring which can be laid ‘click and connect’ is a great candidate for DIY. Glue-in laminate you may want a pro.
We suggest avoiding anything involving gas lines. There’s simply too much danger involved if you hit a line or install the item incorrectly. Large paint jobs (like the exterior of a home) and wallpaper hanging can also be tricky and annoying, and may do well when outsourced to a professional. Installing molding is typically worth hiring a pro for, and you should never attempt to remove a popcorn ceiling or suspected asbestos yourself. In fact, be very wary when lifting floors in older houses. It’s not unknown to meet an asbestos subfloor level. Installing heavy or difficult features is probably best left with a pro unless you have knowledgeable helpers.
The world of DIY is fun and rewarding, if you know how to pick your jobs the right way.