DIY or Hire a Professional? FAQ About the Cost of Common Home Repairs


Apr 26, 2018

If you are a homeowner with a need to complete a home repair or home improvement project, you are probably weighing the considerations of whether or not you should complete the work yourself or hire a professional.

Each option has its benefits. For instance, if you are to complete the work yourself, it is probably going to save you money since you will only need to cover the cost of the materials (and maybe the tools) required to complete the job.

The flip side of this coin is that hiring a professional should guarantee that the job will be completed correctly and efficiently, and the workmanship should be warranted (note: when hiring a professional contractor, you should make sure they are licensed, insured, and bonded, in addition to making sure that they offer a warranty for any work completed). Before you make a decision one way or the other, you should take some time to answer some key questions. The answers to these questions will help you make a better decision as to which option works best for your specific circumstances.

The Key Questions

1. What materials are required to complete the project?

A good starting point in determining the materials required for the scope of a project is to speak with specialists at a local home improvement or building supply store. They will be able to help you determine how much of a specific material is needed (i.e. lumber, wire, hardware, paint, etc.), and they will be able to assist in providing the cost of materials. They may even be able to cut certain materials to your specific sizing requirements.

2. What tools are required to complete the project?

Making sure you have the right tools to complete a project is essential. Some projects may require special tools that are not common in the average toolbox. If your project requires a special tool you don't happen to own, obtaining one will impact the overall cost of a DIY project, whereas professionals will have all the tools required to complete the task.

3. Does the project require any specialized skills or knowledge?

Certain projects may require specialized skills or knowledge that are simply beyond your ability. If your project involves any electrical work or plumbing work that goes beyond very basic installation, you may be better off hiring a professional. After all, these are trades that involve undergoing lengthy apprenticeships to acquire the skills and knowledge to properly complete, and they may also be subject to local codes and inspections depending on the scope of the project.

4. How much time will be required to complete the project?

Can a project be completed in 1 - 2 days or less over the weekend, or will it require more time than you are able to commit in your free time? Like most of us, you probably have a day job taking up 40 hours or more in a typical week. Making sure you are able to allot the proper amount of time to complete a project correctly is a very important consideration in deciding whether or not do it yourself or hire a professional.

5. Does the project require any permits or licensing?

Local regulations may require a completed project to be inspected in order to ensure it meets code requirements. This generally isn't the case for minor home improvements; however, major projects generally will require inspection. Some examples of types of projects that may require inspection include:

  • Adding a new room or expanding a room
  • Making alterations to a load-bearing wall
  • Installation of wiring
  • Installation of flooring such as carpeting, wood flooring, or tile
  • Installing pipe for plumbing or gas
  • Any change that might impact the structural integrity or overall safety of your home

This list is not exhaustive. The best practice is to always check local code and inspection regulations with your local regulatory body prior to beginning any do it yourself project. Going with a professional for any project that requires inspection can provide peace of mind that is well worth the extra cost.