Contractor Vs DIY: Tips That Helped Me During My Home Build

My father built my childhood home when I was a kid and I was lucky enough to learn from him during the process. Not only am I now comfortable with a mitre saw and a pneumatic nail gun, I actually enjoy home improvement projects. I can’t bring myself to pay for work that I know I can do myself, but when my husband and I were building our dream home, even I recognized there are some projects best left to professionals.Here are a few questions that I asked myself about each project to help me decide whether to hire a professional or do the work myself.How important is the space within the home? As a family of five, the kitchen was at the top of our list. Even though we had a blueprint, taking the plan to a firm that specialized in kitchen design allowed us to make significant improvements that we wouldn’t have thought of until using the kitchen. For example, they encouraged us to change the location of the sink to move it closer to the dishwasher. They also suggested we move a counter to open up the traffic flow through the kitchen. These could have been daily nuisances, but instead they are conveniences we’ll enjoy as long as we live in the home.How much time will it take you to achieve the same results? Finishing work like trim has to be perfect in order to have the proper effect. After much wasted time and materials we realized that installing crown molding and working with coping saws was part art and part science. Unfortunately, even with limitless time it was still difficult to achieve the same quality as a professional. Trim work, like crown molding or wainscoting, adds architectural interest and increases the value of a home. Hiring someone was well worth the money to us.Do you have enough knowledge? I, like most, think it’s easy to pick out flowers, shrubs, and trees. But I’ve learned to take into account that experts know more. There are so many different aspects they have to know about the plants they choose. For example, how tall will the bush or tree grow? What will it look like in different seasons? Does it need shade or direct sunlight, or a certain soil composition? Is it prone to certain pests or resistant to certain animals?A trained landscape architect like the one we hired has all of that information available when doing a design. Most professionals work with a nursery where you can purchase the items within the plan. An added benefit is many nurseries will discount the price of the design if you purchase from them. They’ll also likely have some level of guarantee for plants they install.Do you know your limitations? Be honest with yourself about your capabilities and what you can and can’t do. As an engineer, I’m perfectly comfortable measuring and putting up drywall. But mudding the drywall to cover up the seams is something I’m just not good at. If I want a wall to look seamless and smooth then I know it’s time to pick up the phone.Each project is unique, and each homeowner has a different level of personal expertise, quality standards, and available time. If you fairly answer the questions above, you’ll be able to quickly determine when your good intentions are outweighed by the need for professional intervention.