DIY vs. Hiring A Contractor or Handyman

Anyone handy around the house takes pride in their DIY home improvement accomplishments. Often, being successful at one task—such as laying tile or painting—leads you to try other, more challenging jobs. If you’re a quick learner, that’s great, but sometimes trying to do everything on your own can backfire. One thing is for sure, before diving in, you need to carefully assess your renovation project to decide if you’re better off having a handyman do portions of the work or maybe even hiring a contractor for the bigger, complex jobs.

Typical Projects for DIYers

Some home improvement projects require little or no specialized knowledge to accomplish. Things like painting walls and cabinets or sealing furniture are easily within the abilities of many weekend warriors. Some regular maintenance tasks can also be easily done with a little research and know-how beforehand on best practices, including:

This isn’t to say that you can’t do more advanced projects, but it quickly becomes more about how much time are you willing to invest into a project over hiring someone that is already knowledgeable and experienced in those areas.

In other words, how much is your time worth and how much do you enjoy learning about carpentry, plumbing, etc.? When those scales tip the other way, it may be time to invest in a handyman or a contractor.

When to Hire a Handyman

If you have a larger job, or maybe even several tasks that need to be done and are limited on the amount of time you have to devote to them, hiring a handyman may be the wisest solution. Handymen are good at solving a variety of different home improvement tasks.

If you have something that you find challenging, contact a handyman because the money that you spend on handyman services will prevent you from wasting time and getting frustrated. Many handymen charge by the hour or have flat rates for certain types of projects. If the job is small, you can save thousands of dollars over hiring a general contractor. The average cost for handyman jobs range from under $100 to a few thousand dollars depending on the scope of work. Check with your state, however, before hiring a handyman as some states cap the amount of money that they can charge. For example, in California, a handyman is only allowed to do a job worth $500, including labor and parts—nothing more. If you live in such a state, you may have to hire a contractor instead.

Be careful when hiring a handyman for certain jobs. Electrical wiring and plumbing require training and proper licensing. Just because your handyman can frame a wall doesn’t mean that he can place the plumbing inside it. Always check to see if your handyman has the proper training before signing on the dotted line. It can save you lots of money in the end.

When to Hire a Contractor

Go with a contractor when the scope of the job is big and/or requires specialty training such as:

  • Putting an addition on your house or completely renovating a room that requires complicated plumbing and/or electrical work.
  • Foundation repair where the foundation is cracked or partially sunken
  • Complicated roof repairs requiring replacements and weather-proofing
  • Water heater repairs or replacements (a handyman can suffice if the problem is minor, such as mineral buildup, but if it involves any electrical components, it’s best to hire a pro)
  • Water damage to walls, floor, basement, ceiling, etc. that requires you to arrest the leakage source first
  • Backed up or damaged sewer system
  • Mold removal and deodorization
  • Heating and air conditioning installation or repair

Such projects have many components beyond basic inspection, installation and repair, and can involve complicated elements such as building/renovation permits. These are better left to professionals who are certified in their fields.

When selecting a contractor, make sure the company has the correct licensing, insurance and bonding. Ask friends, family and coworkers for suggestions and interview at least three to get price estimates and a feel for how they work. Reliable contractors won’t cut corners and will always pull the proper permits for your project. Always ask about the quality of materials a contractor uses, as inferior products can make the overall price cheaper, but they can also result in early repairs.

Whether you’re a die hard DIYer or looking to hire, reach out to us here at Doug Ashy. We can make sure you have the quality materials you need or get you in touch with our network of general contractors to ensure you have what (or who) you need when you need it!

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