Should you DIY or hire a pro?
NARI offers advice on deciding how to tackle projects during Home Improvement Month.
Des Plaines, Illinois, April 30, 2012—Since May is National Home Improvement Month, the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI) offers homeowners advice before they tackle their spring projects: namely, whether to do-it-yourself (DIY) or hire a professional during the busy remodeling season.
According to a consumer poll from NARI.org, the largest determining factor for deciding to DIY or hire a professional was cost, at 40 percent. Thirty percent of respondents placed project type and know-how as the second most important factor, and level of difficulty was close behind at 25 percent. Safety and length of time required to complete the project were last, with 2 and 3 percent respectively.
“Some of the biggest homeowner misconceptions are related to the three largest considerations: cost, difficulty and know-how,” says NARI National President Dean Herriges, MCR, CKBR, Urban Herriges & Sons Inc., based in Mukwonago, Wis. “Many believe that if they do-it-yourself, the cost will be greatly reduced. And most people also believe that the learning curve for home improvement is lower than it actually is.”
In reality, the home improvement process—though varied across project type—can be very costly and involved for anyone, not to mention a beginner. That’s why it’s important to weigh all considerations before you begin work to prevent a DIY disaster.
“There are a few basic questions that homeowners must consider before they start; otherwise, they will find themselves paying a professional even more money to fix multiple issues or, even worse, injured,” Herriges says.
The most important considerations for homeowners have to do with physical ability, skills, time and understanding of what needs to be.
“Oftentimes, people underestimate height and physical limitations like lifting or controlling heavy objects, or whether the job requires more than one person,” Herriges says. “When people attempt things that are beyond their ability, they open themselves up to injury.”
Herriges says that homeowners should have basic skills when it comes to using tools or knowing which tools are necessary, measuring, installing and following product manufacturer instructions.
He also says that homeowners should plan the process from beginning to end to ensure they have time to complete. “If you’re working on a bathroom, you need to map out a good time for you to be without a bathroom and how long those critical steps will take so you know when you will have a bathroom again,” he says.
And then homeowners should consider the costs. Permits, materials, time and costs associated with correcting mistakes must be factored into the total cost. “If you are doing the project yourself for financial reasons, you need to consider what it would take to correct mistakes that cause damage,” Herriges says. “Fixing a project is usually more expensive than hiring a professional to do the project the first time through, so it’s wise for homeowners to know what they are getting into and if the risk is worthwhile.”
Most homeowners can handle routine maintenance projects and cosmetic touch-ups, but it’s recommended they consult with qualified professionals for larger remodeling jobs and major changes to the home’s structure. Visit the NARI Website to access a DIY quiz, designed to help you decide whether you are going to need to hire a professional.
If you find out that you do need to hire a professional, hiring someone who is qualified and competent to do the work is just as important as preventing a DIY disaster. “You want to select someone that is certified or has professional experience working in the home improvement industry,” Herriges says.
As of April 22, 2010, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency passed new regulations to address a lead safety concern in homes built before 1978. The Renovation, Repair and Painting (RRP) rule is designed to train professional remodelers how to minimize lead dust in the home to reduce exposure to children under 6 years and pregnant women. Remodel-ready homeowners should make themselves aware of lead-safe practices in their homes during a remodel, either by a professional or as a do-it-yourself practitioner, to keep their families safe. Please learn more at www.nari.org/leadsafety.