Okay, so you've done a few things around the house before. Maybe you've painted a couple of rooms, installed some light fixtures or a fan, or even done some landscaping. You should pat yourself on the back because the work you've done is a lot more than many homeowners take on by themselves.
But now you're at a crossroads. You have a much bigger project to tackle, and you're not sure if it's something you should do yourself or hire a contractor to do. Whether it's as simple as replacing a sliding door or as major as building out your basement, you should take a step back and ask yourself some very serious questions before you break out the tool belt.
Are you physically and mentally prepared?
Deciding to do a project on your own takes a lot more preparation than being financially set. Every DIY project is physically demanding to some degree, so if you're not one to enjoy a bit of sweat and effort, doing the work yourself might not be in the cards. And depending on the project, the physical labor might be more than you're able to take on yourself, so it's good to know how much you can handle with your own strength first.
Beyond your muscles, you need to make sure you're mentally fit as well. Persistence and patience are essential to a project going well, and many projects can cause stress in your family relationships. It's important to have yourself and everyone involved aware and ready to help with the tension. Even if you hire a contractor, you might want to schedule some mental vacations during the project-maybe even some yoga.
Are your finances and tool box in order?
The cost of your project is probably something you've already looked over, but it's good to write it all down on paper. A good way to do this is with a spreadsheet, so you can itemize all the materials you need.
Plus, as you ask around and do some research, you'll probably come across things you need that you hadn't thought about. For example, think about the sliding-door project mentioned above. It's not just a matter of purchasing a door. What about the shims, screws, insulation, and finishing trim? It all adds up. Also, do you have tools to remove the existing door, a drill, the proper drill bits, a level, and a miter saw to cut trim?
Which brings us to a very important topic: tools. You've probably heard it a dozen times, but the right tools make the job go much more easily. If you don't have the tools you need to get the job done right, that's an expense you need to factor in as well. And depending on what tools you'll need to buy, it might just make more financial sense to hire a contractor who already has those tools.
How open is your calendar?
Depending on the scope of your project, it could take part of a day, part of a year, or more. Do you have that time available? It's a good idea to plan for at least double the estimated time to complete a project, just in case things don't go as smoothly as planned. And for the projects that could last several months, you might want to ask yourself if you can handle living in a work zone for an extended period of time.
Do you have plan B in place?
Let's face it...life happens. And when it comes to a home project, it's likely that not everything will follow your plan. So, do you have a contingency? Take a look at your project in as broad of a spectrum as possible, starting with the permits you may need to meet code requirements, and considering the possibility of running out of funds half-way through.
If you're still nodding your head that you can take it all on by yourself, then may the force be with you. But take careful consideration as well, because a contractor might not pick up the project midway if things go awry. So, having plan B in place before the project gets started is a very wise thing to do. And if you decide hiring that contractor is the best approach, you can find one Kudzu.