DIY OR HIRE A PRO?

Home Improvement Projects: Do-It-Yourself or Hire a Professional?
Take this quiz to find out!
Should you save money by doing the job yourself? Do-it-yourself (DIY) jobs are a popular trend in the home improvement industry; however, before you grab a hammer and start swinging, you should know that the wrong decision could bring forth a few potential problems. Before you decide to do-it-yourself, the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI) recommends taking this DIY quiz:
Answer yes or no:
• Do you enjoy physical work?
• Are you persistent and patient?
• Do you have reliable work habits—meaning that once the project is started, will it get finished?
• Do you have all the tools needed and, more importantly, the skills required to do the job?
• What quality level do you need for this project? Are your skills at that level?
• Do you have the time that will be required to complete the project? (Always double or triple the time estimated for a DIY project, unless you are highly skilled and familiar with that particular project.)
• Will it matter if the project remains unfinished for a period of time?
• Are you prepared to handle the kind of stress this project will create in your family relationships?
• Do you know all of the steps involved in the project?
• Have you received the installation instructions from the manufacturer to determine whether this is a project you still want to undertake? (Most manufacturers will send you installation instructions before purchase to determine whether the product will meet your needs.)
• Is this a job you can do completely by yourself or will you need assistance? If you do need assistance, what skill level is involved for your assistant? If you need a professional subcontractor, do you have access to a skilled labor pool?
• Are you familiar with your local building codes and permit requirements? (Some jurisdictions require that the work be completed by a licensed and bonded professional in order to meet code.) It’s best to check these requirements before beginning work on the project.
• What will you do if the project goes awry? (Most contractors are wary about taking on a botched DIY job.)
• Is it safe for you to do this project? (If you are not familiar with roofing or do not have fall protection restraints, you may not want to venture into a roofing job. Similarly, if you know nothing about electricity—leave it to the professional. Some jobs can be fatal if not performed correctly. Your health and safety should be the primary concern. Never enter into a DIY project that would jeopardize either.)
• Will you be able to obtain the materials you need? Who will be your source of supply? Will they deliver?
• Are you attempting to do-it-yourself for financial reasons? If so, have you looked at all of your costs, including the cost of materials, your time, and the tools you need to purchase? If you are new to the DIY game, you may also want to look at the cost to correct any mistakes you may make—i.e., the damage factor. Will it still be a cost-saving venture?
• If you are trying DIY for the satisfaction of a job well done—can you ensure that the job will be “well done”? If it doesn’t come out right, how will you feel? Will you be able to afford to redo any unsatisfactory work?
If you answered yes to 8 or more of these questions, you might attempt a DIY project. But before you run for the nearest hardware store, revisit those questions you marked “No,” and carefully consider the potential problems you will face in those areas if you proceed with the project.
Hiring a professional might be your best choice. NARI recommends that you take your time in selecting a home improvement partner and reminds consumers that such a project can be one of the most important investments that a homeowner can make.

Ready to Remodel?

In honor of National Home Improvement Month, Kansas City NARI, the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI), advises homeowners of the 10 most important steps to take before the remodeling project starts.

“The planning and researching phases of a project are the most critical steps in the remodeling process,” says Kansas City NARI President Mike Guthrie, Raynor Garage Door of KC, Shawnee, Kansas. “The more knowledgeable and prepared a homeowner is, the more they protect themselves.”

What can a homeowner do to prepare for a remodel? NARI provides a top 10 list of steps homeowners should take before breaking ground on their next remodel.

  1. Research your project. Taking time to research projects on the Internet and www.remodelingkc.com will provide a good sense of what is involved such as price, scope of work, return on investment and new product/material options. Also, research property values in your neighborhood to make sure your project is in line with other homes in the area.
  2. Plan project around the long-term. How long do you plan to stay in your home? How might your family structure change over time? Life can change quickly—these questions should be answered early on to ensure your project will fit your lifestyle long after it’s complete.
  3. Set your budget. Deciding on a realistic budget and arranging finances to support your project are essential. This number needs to include everything—the project, products, contingencies, etc. Don’t be afraid to share this with your remodeler; professionals are respectful of a client’s budget and will create a plan around it, not over it.
  4. Use advanced search for professionals. The online world makes it easy to gather information about strangers. Ask friends, family and neighbors for referrals and then spend time researching that person online. Professional remodelers take their reputation seriously and hold credentials beyond licensing, such as certifications, memberships in trade associations and additional training. Look for examples of press coverage or involvement in industry presentations or events. Check online reviews and social media to see how they interact with past clients and peers.
  5. Ask the right questions. Time and cost are important, but getting the right information requires the right questions. Ask your professional remodeler about his educational background, training, specialties or past issues with clients. Ask about how the remodeling process will work.
  6. Verify your remodeler. Don’t take their word for it. Check the information given to you such as references, license numbers, insurance information and certifications by calling providers to verify. Request a visit to an active client’s jobsite. Make it known that you are checking on him—a true professional considers that as a positive sign to working with a homeowner.
  7. Review contracts word-by-word. A remodeling contract protects you and your remodeler. Homeowners should review this carefully. Professional remodelers have done this before, and know what should go in a contract. Homeowners are not as familiar with remodeling and should ask about terms if they don’t understand. Pay attention to details about change orders, payment, additional fees, timeline and responsibilities. If it’s not in the contract, it doesn’t exist.
  8. Keep design in mind. Your design guides the entire project. Think about what you dislike about your current space and the intended use of the new space. Use Websites such as Pinterest.com and Houzz.com to gather design ideas. Make sure you can articulate specifically what you like about that design when talking to your designer. Professionals don’t recreate a photo—they incorporate accessibility, functionality, ease of modification, style and value into your design.
  9. Make your selections. Deciding on products and materials is a larger process than most imagine. With so many options to choose from, product selections are one of the primary reasons for project timelines to get extended. Base decisions on quality, function, price, style and availability. Include selections in the contract to lock down pricing and keep your budget intact.
  10. Create a communication plan. A common downfall in remodeling is lack of communication between homeowners and remodelers. Your remodeler should lay out a communication plan at the beginning of the project. If not, ask them to do so. This plan should clarify roles of everyone involved, communication methods, availability, and frequency of communication that is expected.

As an industry that struggles with a persistent negative perception of remodeling contractors, these tips serve both the industry and consumers in elevating real professionals from the pack.

The first step to hiring a professional is through NARI, whose members are vetted and approved by industry peers to ensure they live up to the professional standards that NARI sets. “NARI members are proud of their affiliation and commitment to professionalism, and it’s a reputation they work hard to protect,” Guthrie says.