DIY? Or Hire a Professional?

These days, do-it-yourself home remodeling and repair is very hip. But, DIY-er beware. What you see on the likes of HGTV isn't as easy as it looks. Eli Gould, owner of New England-based building firm Ironwood Brand, knows this firsthand. He's worked alongside DIY-ers and tries to support them when he can.

"People see a professional estimate and think it must be easier and cheaper to manage a construction project on their own," says Gould, "But you can quickly get in over your head."

Incorrectly estimating the right amount of material is common -- and costly DIY. So is calling in plumbers or electricians too early (and paying $85 an hour for someone to sit around twiddling his or her thumbs). Another consideration is insurance. You don't want to rely on your homeowner's policy if something goes wrong -- make sure anyone you hire carries liability and worker's compensation insurance.

When little errors add up, your DIY project may wind up costing you more than you bargained for.

Do You Dare to DIY?

Before you start any project, ask yourself these 3 questions:

1. Are you a finisher?

Is your home is a graveyard of half-finished projects, a wasteland of good intentions? If you tend to get distracted or discouraged before a job is done, stop yourself before you start.

2. Do you have the time?

Did you just have a baby? Or start a new job? If you don't have the time to DIY it right, don't do it at all. A DIY project gone awry can cost more than you think.

3. Are you qualified?

Gould is firm about this when it comes to wiring. Hire a pro. The same goes for plumbing. "Plumbing seems simple," he says. "But, it's not. If you don't understand venting, for example, you could wind up with sewer gas in your house's indoor air." Ew.


If you answered no to any of these questions, it's time to call for help. It's simply not worth the risk to go it alone.

When to Give DIY a Try

Gould recommends DIY projects that are both satisfying and won't create major problems if you don't do them perfectly, for example:

· Refinish doors and cabinets.

· Use "flat-packed" kits to redo kitchens or baths.

· Build-in shelving or bookcases.

· Replace flooring with DIY-friendly laminate, self-adhesive vinyl, or tile.

· Paint.


Get Out!

The best place to add value to your home may be outside. "Every buyer or appraiser can picture indoor upgrades," Gould says. "But, it's harder to envision adding perennial gardens or laying patio stones. Doing those things makes the home feel finished."

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