When To DIY And When To Call In The Professionals

When I was asked to discuss this topic by Homes.com I was prepared to make a list of all the things that you should do yourself and what you should hire out. It didn’t take me very long to realize that the list I would make would only really apply to me. Your list may be different. I think it largely depends on your skill set, your budget, and your time frame.

I wanted to talk about some of the things I have done and some of the things I have hired out. And y’all, I feel like I should upload a beautiful picture of a sunset or a field of flowers because this post ain’t purdy! Home improvement projects can be a dirty job.

When we first moved here, we stayed with my mom for two weeks so we could get some things done in the house before we moved in. One of those things was to paint all the walls, trim, and doors. Our ceilings are only 8 feet in the upstairs level and 7.5 feet in the basement. So painting the walls was a cake walk. I would venture to say that most people can easily paint their own walls to save money. Now if you have crazy high vaulted ceilings that require scaffolding then you may want to hire it out for those areas.

refinishing floors 1024x768 When To DIY And When To Call In The Professionals

I also refinished the wood floors that were hiding under the carpet. You guys…. I used a hand sander! I don’t remember why we didn’t rent a large floor sander. It has been too long ago. But I spent a few days sanding the floor down to the bare wood so I could stain and seal them. This is also a DIY project I think most people can handle. I do recommend renting the proper equipment though ;)

We needed to update at least some of the electrical. Since our house was so old it had all knob and tube wiring. Even some electricians won’t touch it. Even though we can do basic electrical stuff, we knew we needed a professional to come and change some of it out and install a new electrical/fuse box. The next thing we did when the budget allowed was to replace the furnace and add central air. Obviously we hired that out. Our furnace was 35+ years old and we called it the octopus. It was HUGE. It was twice the size of our new furnace. By replacing it we also gained about 18 inches of space of the walkway into the laundry room.

replacing furnace When To DIY And When To Call In The Professionals

We did some demo in the basement. Demo is fun but when it is lathe and plaster it is MESSY! You can save a lot of money by doing the demo and clean up yourselves even if you plan to hire out the rest. I have had an electrician and a plumber both tell me if I do the prep work that their prices would be dramatically reduced.

demo When To DIY And When To Call In The Professionals

We can do basic plumbing as well but when we decided to replace all the cast iron pipes we called a professional to do that. It was a big job that took 2 plumbers 3 days to complete. Oh man…. I could NOT be a plumber! In the picture below you can see the old pipes. The sewer line had a hole that we stuffed a rag in to stop the smell.

cast iron plumbing replaced When To DIY And When To Call In The Professionals

So basically for us, we have hired out big plumbing and big electrical projects and done pretty much the rest ourselves.

I think they key with being a DIYer is to know your limits. You need to know when it would be better to let someone with more knowledge step in. Since plumbing (water) and electrical (fire) are the two things that can do a ton of damage to a home, we played it safe.

Another time it might be best to call in help is if your time frame of when it needs to be done is sooner than when you yourself could complete it. This has yet to happen to us but I am sorely tempted to hire out some things this summer. We have been without a bath tub for over a year. We have had a shower stall downstairs that has worked for us, but my little boys beg to play in the tub. Plus it is torn up and a huge mess that we try to hide behind a shower curtain. I also have a basement we are trying to finish for other reasons. If the budget allows, I may hire out part of the up bath so I can keep working on the basement. But if the budget doesn’t allow for it I will have to suck it up and wait until I can get to it myself. Who knows, the control freak in me might not be able to hand it over to someone else even if it is in the budget!

bathroom demo 1 When To DIY And When To Call In The Professionals

What about you?

Do you have any projects that you are afraid to tackle?

Or do you have any that you have already hired out?

Was it worth it to you in the end? I would love to hear your stories and advice.




  1. says

    I’m 54 and a little lazier than I used to be – so have hired people for things I can and should be doing ( and feel guilty about it )
    But wow – I can’t believe you did those floors with a hand sander – pretty impressive – I have 2 small rooms that I need to do and didn’t want to pay someone to come ( I can’t manoeuvre the large sanders at all ) think I’ll try a hand sander!
    THanks for sharing

  2. says

    Wow I can relate to this post. We purchased our home 4 years ago and about half way through the remodel we lost interest. We’ve been dragging our feet on a bathroom project and several other things that need finishing. In reality we can do the work ourselves and I agree you can save so much money when you DIY. This bathroom project though a little afraid to tackle.
    I enjoy your blog so glad I found it. -Carole at GardenUp green

  3. says

    I love that we rent, so any of the not-fun stuff is automatically hired out. Fixing wiring, plumbing issues, etc. But when we own – I think the things I’d hire out are electrical and plumbing, but also tiling anything. I don’t have the patience for that!

  4. Carole H says

    I love that you can do most of the work yourself as it does save a ton of money!! Our house is an older model also…and we have done most of the work ourselves or with relatives help. We did hire someone to put on a new roof and replace the central HVAC. Someone had actually lowered all the original ceilings in the house by putting in a drop in ceiling…WHY??? The original ceilings are all tongue and groove bead board and almost all are back to their former glory. What a job to try and patch, caulk and paint 11 foot ceilings. We have ripped down paneling in all of the rooms, put up sheet rock, painted, added crown and other molding. We still have one room to go and all the flooring. It will always be a work in progress but I wouldn’t have it any other way!

  5. says

    We’re in the thick of a whole house remodel at our place. Hiring out: Replacing the main sewer and water lines as well as moving plumbing fixtures (I’ll make the fixture connections once the lines are in place). Replacing the electrical service, burying the lines and running new wiring and boxes (I’ll hang light fixtures and trim outlets). I do my own demolition for almost everything but am hiring a company to take off the roof, frame the new roof and put the new roof on because I don’t want the liability in case it pours rain once the house is open. Also DIY’ing trim, we’ve done hardwood floor refinishing, some tile (after the underlayment is installed), painting (after the sanding and priming is done). Hiring out : replacing windows and exterior doors, building of a new chimney for the fireplace (we’ll diy the “facelift” of the fireplace) also Hiring out: grading, concrete work and drainage management on the property. The list is long and much of it depends upon my prior experience but common sense and sometimes age also play into it. My sons are grown so there’s not a danger to them but I work full time so that’s a consideration. Long answer to a short question…hope this helps.

  6. says

    I’ve taken on painting, painting a patterned feature wall, and refinishing the wood floors in one room. I’ve hated how physically demanding they’ve been. We’ve got a 1950s mid century ranch. There’s a wall between the living room and kitchen i wish could simply be torn down, but it’s a support wall. UGH. So that would definitely be hired out. Our laundry hook up is out in the garage so that and the needed half bath in our home will have to be hired out. Plumbing is a BEAR I refuse to wrestle!

  7. DIY Answer Man says

    You are smart. A lot of people who come into our hardware store come in for help when it has become an emergency. It’s better if you are honest with yourself and hire out the projects that are past your limits.

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