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Are DIY Home Improvements Worth the Time Tradeoff?

When it becomes time to do some much-needed home improvements, there is always the question of whether to hire a contractor or attempt to take it on yourself. Whether you’re looking to redo the backsplash in your kitchen, replacing the counters, installing new flooring or remodeling the bathroom, chances are it’s going to take a decent amount of time and effort. Some homeowners who want to save some money may choose to take it on themselves, so they skip paying for the labor.

However, if you don’t know what you’re doing, you could end up paying to fix your mistakes later. On the other hand, there is always a risk that a contractor makes mistakes as well, and you end up dealing with extra costs and a headache there. So when it comes to home improvement, which is the better option? And if you take it on yourself, will it be worth the time trade-off? The answer is, it depends; homeowners have to consider the different variables. Here’s how to determine whether it makes sense for you to hire or to handle on your own.

DIY if You’re a Handy Person

Every homeowner is not the same. Some people are very hands-on and like to tackle repairs, build things, and install items on their own. If you are an experienced fixer-upper, then DIY is a viable option for you. If the task is something you can easily learn or requires a skill to brush up on, there are plenty of resources out there to help you. You’ll find a large number of video tutorials and step-by-step instructions available online.

Many times, the manufacturers or the companies that carry the supplies for DIY projects will have a library of resources. For example, if you’re looking into installing garage flooring, whether it’s epoxy, epoxy paint, interlocking garage floor tiles, or rollout mat flooring, a reputable company will likely have all of these how-to resources available, with tips and tricks on best practices.

According to the National Association of Home Builders, homeowners in California spent over $20 billion on home improvements in 2018 – that is an increase from $15 billion in 2015. Other polls also shed light on the current trend of homeowners taking on home improvement projects themselves, especially among younger homeowners who tend to be more tech-savvy. In one poll, 2,001 U.S. adults, including 1,353 homeowners, were surveyed, and the results showed that younger homeowners were more likely to take on home improvement projects themselves, with some of those homeowners who were between the ages of 25 – 29 opting for DIY 59% of the time. One could argue that the ease with which younger homeowners can find the information they need empowers them to take on the projects with confidence. If you can evaluate your skillsets and conclude that you can take on a project without disrupting your day-to-day life too much, then the time trade-off can make sense for you.

DIY if the Project Isn’t That Complex

Perhaps the task you are taking on is simple. The task doesn’t have to do with, say, the structure or foundation of the building. In this case, learning how to do the job, or brushing up on how to do it will likely work out well for you. Things like landscaping projects, bedroom additions, and renovations, fence renovations or additions, kitchen remodels, and garage remodels are some of the types of home improvement projects that are frequently taken on by homeowners. When it comes to more involved things like security system additions, roof repairs, and window replacements, those are tasks more frequently outsourced to professional companies who have experience doing those things. Partially because of the time it takes to figure it out on your own and also because of the delicate nature of the project that could have serious effects if not handled correctly.

Weigh the Risks and Know the Local Regulations

Knowing what the risks are if you take on the job yourself is essential. While your homeowner’s insurance will likely assume the costs of any damage that results from your DIY home improvements, you should also weigh in the risks if you cannot do the job or if you mess something up along the way. Will it be an easy fix if you miss a step? Do you have any upcoming events that might become derailed if you don’t complete your project on time or if you have to add extra time to fix the missteps? If your project goes awry, will it be as easy as repainting a wall or reassembling something?

Examples of home improvement projects that have a higher risk factor include projects that deal with mold, pests, or hazardous materials. This is not just about the risk of losing more time or money; it is also in reference to the risks of injury. Saving money should never come before safety – it’s important to understand what the safety risks involved would be if taking on, for example, an electrical or plumbing issue. If the risks are significant, and you don’t feel capable or knowledgeable enough to handle it on your own without making mistakes, you may want to look into hiring.

Knowing what the local laws, regulations, and codes are is also very important before trying to take something on. Maybe there is a regulation against installing a particular type of fence in your neighborhood. If you didn’t know about it and install a fence without getting approval from the HOA, you could end up hit with fines and penalties for doing so – or worse, asked to remove it completely.

Weigh the Costs

Many times, when homeowners decide to take on a project on their own, the decision is motivated by cost. DIY can save money if the project is not that complicated or risky and if the homeowner knows what they’re doing. But if not, take into account the hourly rate that you’d have to pay an outsourced company to do the job. Don’t just look at monetary cost – your time is just as valuable, if not more valuable than your money. Do you have the time to sacrifice to the project? All of these variables play a role in the final decision of whether or not you should take on a home improvement DIY project. Be sure to really take time to consider them all before taking on the project yourself or hiring a company to do it for you.

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