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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.