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Sometimes It’s Less Expensive to Hire a Pro

By Laura Kelso


I don’t know about you, but I love certain commercials. Not every commercial, of course, but the ones that make us feel like superheroes. I might be sitting on the couch with a bowl of ice cream when the Home Depot announcer says, “Let’s DO THIS!” The cool music in the background, and the enthusiasm, make me start to think about what walls need to be painted.  Or maybe I should paint my kitchen cabinets!  Perhaps I should tear them all out and install new ones. Heck, I might as well do the whole kitchen.  After all, I GOT this!

If my husband had a dollar for every time I morphed from a couch potato into a “DIY warrior” he would be a rich man. The truth is, I feel a great sense of satisfaction when a project turns out the way I planned.  As a homeowner, house flipper, and real estate broker, I have also learned that the outcome does not always match my original vision.

The Correlation Between DIY and Your Home Value

 When working with prospective sellers, one of the very first things they ask is, How much is my house worth?” That is a fair question. The answer is, “It depends.” House values in any given area are determined by the price of recently sold comparable homes. While this is a complex process, for simplicity’s sake, we will just say the main criteria for comparison is size, aesthetic desirability, and mechanical updates.

Mechanical updates include things like the age of the roof, furnace, water heater, and electrical systems. When buyers are considering whether to purchase a home, they not only want to know that repairs were done correctly, but they also want PROOF. Some repairs even require permits and inspections by a township official upon completion. The Sellers Disclosure Statement specifically asks sellers to disclose if their home had “structural modifications, alterations, or repairs made without necessary permits or licensed contractors?”  So, if Uncle Henry built his own house and says he can replace your water heater for $200, should you let him? Once again, it depends.

Questions to Help You Decide

  1. Do you enjoy fixing things yourself, or is saving money your only reason to muddle through on your own?
  2. Are you good at fixing things yourself, or will you ultimately need to hire someone to “fix” what you just fixed?
  3. Are you physically able to perform this repair without putting yourself in harm’s way? Serious, even fatal falls often start with a well-intentioned look at the roof.
  4. Could an incorrect repair be dangerous to you or your family? A roof leak is one thing; a gas leak is another.
  5. Will not hiring a licensed professional effect your ability to sell your house? If you have no intention to sell in the near future- who cares! If you know you will be selling your home soon, this is an important consideration.
  6. If you are using a friend who is also a contractor, will they guarantee their work just like they would for any other client?

Use these questions as a starting point when considering the long-term benefits of doing any project yourself. If you have a critical repair you cannot afford, look for assistance resources in your area.   At the end of the day, if you have the time, talent, and drive to complete home projects on your own, grab your tools and get to work!