Kitchen Picture

To DIY…or not to DIY

Often times when something around the house breaks, or it’s time for a little home improvement, we have a brief internal discussion with ourselves to determine if we’re going to hire a professional, or Do It Ourselves. The case for DIY is strong, after all, if done properly it will be less expensive (no labor costs). However, if done improperly the little project you started with can balloon into a giant expensive mess. Today we’ll look at a few projects and discuss if DIY, or hiring a professional is appropriate. As with most things, it depends on your level of comfort with the project, some things are going to be easier based on your experience and skills. Most of these projects have very detailed instructional videos online. Watch a few videos to determine the difficulty and extensiveness of the project before starting. Youtube.com is a great source of DIY videos.

Plumbing:

My rule of thumb here has to do with where the plumbing fix is taking place. If you’re fixing something behind drywall hire a professional, no question. If you do it wrong the pipe can leak and cause thousands of dollars in damage. Minor things such as clogged drains or a pea trap in need of cleaning are fair game for DIY’ers, but don’t attempt major plumbing unless you have a fair amount of experience.

Electrical:

Nope, don’t do it. Hire a professional for all electrical issues. The stakes are too high, sparks cause flames, and flames burn down houses. There’s also a very real chance of electrocution if you don’t know what you’re doing. No Bueno. You’ll be glad you hired out all your electrical projects. Lots of electrical projects require permits too, so be sure you hire someone capable of pulling permits.

Painting:

This one may surprise you, but I always suggest hiring out painting. Paint can make a big difference in the look of the room, but a bad paint job is easy to do and easy to spot. The rolling part is easy, but when you go to paint the transition from the wall to the ceiling is where a novice painter gets caught. The paint will run onto the ceiling and be very noticeable. The other big reason I hire out painting has to do with cost. You can find capable painters pretty cheap. Most will give you a per room bid. I’ve had some Handymen whom would allow me to roll out the walls and they paint the transition to the ceilings. Cuts down on costs, but still gives it the professional look. Test a small part if you’re not sure, ideally in a less visible area such as the closet.

Staining the Deck:

Not the same as painting. Staining a deck requires less precision and is well within your wheelhouse. A successful stain is more about the preparation work than the actual staining. The deck needs to be cleaned well, not just swept. Keep in mind any dirt or discolorations will become permanent if you stain over them. Power washing, or pressure washing, is your best bet. Clean the surface well and allow at least a day for it to dry. Doing so means checking the weather before you start. You’ll need about a 3 day rainless window for the project. Day 1 to power wash and clean. Day 2 to stain the deck. Day 3 for the stain to dry. If it rains before the stain completely dries the deck will look terrible. Same goes for extreme cold or heat, check the stain for instructions. Also, it’s called stain for a reason. Stain doesn’t care if it’s your deck, your hands, or your white siding, so be careful and wear gloves.

As I mentioned, choosing between hiring a professional and DIY really depends on your comfort level with the project. If you’re not sure check out some online videos or phone a friend. It’s amazing what a little guilt trip and some pizza can get you. Think about the worst case outcome to help determine if you’ll take on the project. Another major factor is the tools required. Often times the required tools cost more than hiring a professional. If it’s a one-time project and the tools will spend the rest of their life gathering dust, well hire a pro. If you’ve never heard of one or more of the required tools, probably best to hire a pro. Good luck with your projects!