Home Projects – DIY or Hire a Pro?
Are you looking to cosmetically spruce up an outdated room? There are many simple home renovation tasks you can complete on your own to upgrade or improve your space. On the other end of the scale, maybe you’re hoping to tackle a more extensive home remodel, requiring solid handyman skills. Hiring a contractor can be expensive and time-consuming, but for many home renovation projects, contracting a professional may be worth considering as a trained professional can save you time and money in the long run.

As a general rule of thumb, minor changes or projects which can be completed in an afternoon are probably safe for you to tackle on your own. Anything involving the tearing out of walls or floors, or undertakings which could impact your home’s insurance status, should be left to the pros. No matter the type of project you’re contemplating, it is important to be aware of your skill level before beginning.

Easy DIY

These projects are quick, simple, and suitable for people at most DIY experience levels. Sometimes you'll need a few basic tools, while other times you just need to tap into your creativity.

  • Replace bath and kitchen hardware. Changing out knobs, faucets, and cabinet handles can go a long way toward giving your bath and bedrooms a facelift. In many cases, you'll only need to undo a screw or two to make the swap.
  • Painting rooms. Painting a room yourself is an easy way to save some money during a renovation. With a little patience, and the right supplies, you have the ability to create a great looking space. Need ideas? Drop by a paint store and grab a few samples for creative inspiration.
  • Changing out blinds and curtains. This is another simple way to give a room a whole new look. A few trendy ideas include replacing plastic blinds with cozy bamboo, like these from Wayfair, or swapping out last year's stylish floral curtains for this year's bold solids.

Some Skills Needed

If you're a beginner DIY-er whose previous experience is limited to Pinterest crafts, you should probably recruit a handy friend or neighbor for more labor intensive projects. Renovations in this category may require specialized tools, an assistant, or experience with safety gear like goggles and breathing masks.

  • Installing new hardwood or carpeting. Putting in new flooring can range from easy to tricky depending on the state of the subfloor. Unfortunately, you may only know what that state is by tearing up the existing carpet or paneling. You might need to break out special tools like saws, sealants, or varnish strippers to pull this job off. Keep this in mind if you’re considering tackling this type of project.
  • Replacing light and fan fixtures. You'll need at least a basic understanding of house electricity to complete this type of renovation correctly and safely. Be sure to carefully measure the space and existing fixture so you'll know the new one will fit. Pro tip: take a photo of how the wires connect before disconnecting the fixture. Remember to brief yourself on electrical safety before taking on this type of home update.
  • Hanging wallpaper. Hanging wallpaper is, technically speaking, straightforward and simple. Yet, hanging it well can be a time-consuming, backbreaking task. Having previous experience with wallpaper, or having a helper or three on hand, can make a big difference in your results.
  • Laying tile. Tile isn't the easiest to work with. It's tricky to lay in irregular spaces and may need to be done in sections, greatly increasing project time. Finally, if you notice a mistake once the grout is set, your only option is to chip out and replace the tiles. However, with experience and patience, replacing tiles can provide a cosmetically pleasing lift to your bathrooms and kitchen.

Leave These for the Pros

Unless you have contractor experience yourself, you're probably better off not tackling these tasks on your own. A mistake here could lead to long-term water damage, violate building codes and void your insurance, or even cause injuries. When considering hiring a contractor, make sure you get several referrals and check references.

  • Rewiring electricity. House electricity is powerful and should be treated with care and respect. This is particularly crucial to be aware of if you're running new electrical lines, like furnishing a basement or room over the garage, for example.
  • Rerouting plumbing. Plumbing is tricky. A seemingly straightforward repair can uncover bigger problems once the floor comes up. Meanwhile, tiny leaks are easy to miss, until a few months later when you wonder where all that mold is coming from. Furthermore, some types of plumbing may require special skills or welding equipment.
  • Cutting into walls and roofing. Any project which potentially opens your house up to outside elements should be left to a professional. It's tricky to get a great seal with these type of renovations. If there's a problem, you'll want a pro who can resolve the issue quickly. Otherwise, your home may be exposed to the elements for days.

Choosing the Right Project

Hopefully, after reading this, you have an idea of where your home improvement skills lie. Some people with extensive DIY experience can trim their renovation budget by tackling more advanced projects, however, some projects are best left to the pros.