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Repairing Your New Home? Know When to DIY—and When to Hire A Professional

Posted by Justin Havre on Tuesday, January 1st, 2019 at 12:11pm.

The Value of DIY and Hiring a ProfessionalHomeowners can save money on improvement projects by doing some or all of the work themselves. Unfortunately, not all homeowners are able to safely take on complex projects. Knowing when you're able to make home improvements and when it's time to hire a professional can help you take care of your new home.

Consider Level Of Experience

When it comes to level of DIY experience, homeowners span a range. Some homeowners are able to work confidently with their hands, others have little or no experience. People who buy new homes having already fixed appliances and worked on construction projects have a significant advantage when it comes to completing home improvement projects.

For the inexperienced homeowner, it's important to take on do it yourself home repairs slowly. Tackling easy things first helps new, inexperienced homeowners ease into the process of making home improvements. Good beginning projects to take on include cosmetic improvements like painting, small plumbing repairs like fixing a running toilet, and outdoor landscaping changes. These DIY projects are low-pressure, relatively easy and unlikely to result in significant damage if done incorrectly.

By contrast, improvements like electrical work, major plumbing repairs, structural upgrades and roof repair are much more likely to result in damage to the home or injury to the homeowner if performed incorrectly. These high-stakes projects are not projects for beginners.

Conduct Research

Conducting research before beginning a new project is invaluable and necessary. New, inexperienced homeowners may find it difficult to gauge the complexity of a home improvement project.

  • Have conversations with knowledgeable clerks at local West Calgary hardware stores or home improvement centers.
  • Watch example videos from reputable sources.
  • Read tutorials about how to use the necessary tools.

During the research phase, it's often helpful to talk to contractors. Contractors who come to the house to bid a project will often discuss their process as they assess the home. These conversations can be revealing, and can help you decide whether you should be your own contractor or if a project is just too complicated to take on alone.

During this research phase, it's important to ask the question: what could go wrong? For example, repairing a leaky pipe may seem simple enough, but if the connection between two repaired pipes is weak, a subtle leak could be the result. Long-term leaks can cause serious structural damage, mold and home devaluation. Being aware of these dangers can help homeowners decide for themselves whether or not a home improvement project is right for them.

Is the Work Permitted?

Work that requires a permit must be done according to building codes. Homeowners who take on permitted work themselves but who fail to comply with building codes may find themselves redoing their work or hiring a contractor midway through a project. For this reason, hiring a contractor to conduct permitted work or house repairs is often more practical.

Consider A DIY/Professional Mix

In some cases, homeowners interested in saving money can do so by splitting the work with a professional. Many home renovations start with demolition, which can often be handled by the homeowner. Homeowners interested in pursuing a home renovation project in this way can talk to their contractor to find out more.

How to Research to Hire a Contractor

Finding a contractor can be a challenge, but hiring the right person is critical. Many homeowners start by researching contractors online. While this is a starting point, there are many different factors to be considered, including:

  • Experience. How long has the contractor been in business?
  • Licensure. Does the contractor have a license and certification to do the kind of work that needs to be done?
  • Awards. Many of the best contractors will get awards from local associations for the service they provide to their community.
  • Response time. How quickly does the contractor respond to inquiries, and how fast does the contractor get a bid to the consumer?

Homeowners who have a hard time determining which contractors are best may need to ask friends and relatives for a referral. Homeowners who can't get a referral from someone they trust may be able to find a reliable professional by contacting building and material suppliers in their area.

When trying to decide which contractor to hire, it's important for homeowners to interview each potential candidate. Asking all contractors the same questions can help the homeowner decide which professional is the best one for the job. It's important to get at least three bids per job. Homeowners should be wary of the lowest bid, since this could be an indication that the contractor is cutting corners.

Consider the Home's Value

A poorly completed home renovation or home improvement project can negatively impact a home's value. New homeowners who are concerned about preserving their home's value may want to consult with a real estate professional before deciding what to do for themselves. Your real estate professional can provide solid advice about which types of home improvement projects are most important to buyers and how much a poorly done home improvement project can impact a home's value.

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