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Father and adult son working on home project in driveway

It’s a decision every homeowner will face at some point — whether to complete a project yourself or hire a contractor.

The Home Improvement Research Institute estimates that ⅔ of home improvement projects last year were completed on a do-it-yourself basis. The most common DIY projects include interior painting and landscaping.

Lots of people think it’s more frugal to do the work yourself. However, this isn’t always the case. Let’s go over some considerations for deciding when to tackle a job yourself, and when to leave it to an expert.


This is your number one priority. If you aren’t 100% sure you can do the job safely, hire a pro. 

Some projects come with a risk of severe or even life-threatening injuries if mistakes are made. Examples include installing a new roof or major electrical work. It’s important to note that the finished product must be safe for both you and for others. If a future resident or guest gets hurt because of faulty work you did, you could be held liable. 

Also consider the potential for property damage. Let’s say you’re wanting to move some plumbing fixtures around. A wrong move here could cause major water damage that would cost more to fix than if you’d hired a professional plumber. 

Find out whether the job requires a permit. This document guarantees that your project will be done to code by a qualified individual. There are some projects for which a homeowner can get a permit for DIY work. However, there are many jobs that require a licensed professional to qualify. 

Skills & Experience

Do some background research on the skills needed to complete your project. Be honest about whether you are capable of doing the work successfully. 

There are some jobs that can be easily done with the help of online resources and materials purchased at a nearby retailer. However, many home projects take years of specialized training that simply cannot be duplicated by watching a few YouTube videos. If you’re looking at re-doing your entire kitchen, or other complex work, a properly licensed and insured contractor may be necessary.

Attempting a project that’s above your skill level could result in the need for a contractor to come in and correct mistakes. In this case, the project would end up being more expensive than if you’d hired a contractor at the very beginning. On top of that, poorly done work will hurt your property value with future homebuyers. 

If you’re looking to build your DIY experience, try tackling a few small repairs first. Then work your way up to bigger jobs as your skill level improves. 

Timeline & Budget

Review the steps involved and how long it would likely take to finish the work yourself. Do you have a strict timeline for completion? If so, a pro can typically complete the job faster. This is especially important if time is of the essence — for example, if you’re selling your home soon. 

Get quotes from at least 3-5 contractors to estimate the cost of hiring a pro. To estimate the cost of a DIY project, look up the prices of any supplies you would need to purchase. Be sure to include any specialized tools. If a permit is required, find out how much it would cost and the process to get one.


Whether you go the DIY route or hire a pro, Mid-City Lumber has a wide selection of quality materials and advanced tools for your project. 

Contact us to speak with our friendly, knowledgeable staff!