Should You Hire a Renovation Contractor or DIY?

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May 14, 2018
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Old tools on a wooden table

Have you heard that series of commercials on the radio from Rona? You know, the ones that say “We’re here to help take you from <disappointing voice> ‘I can’t believe you did that to our bathroom.’ to <exciting voice> ‘ I can’t believe you did that to our bathroom!” They are my absolute favorite because they convey the two extremes of a renovation experience. The question that always lingers in my mind, however, is: Do you know what it actually takes to embark on a renovation project? Here are some questions to ask yourself to determine whether you should do it yourself or hire a contractor.

How complex is the project?

Renovations come in all flavors and varieties. Painting your home falls under the renovation banner, but in the grand scheme of things, it’s not all that difficult and can even be done over a weekend. Gutting your kitchen is a little more complex in nature and it might make more sense to hire an expert.

What is your level of expertise?

Let’s be honest. Although those Rona commercials make it sound like they’ll have an expert hovering over you shoulder as you’re about to cut your first piece of drywall, the truth is that you’re pretty much on your own. If you have the know how to do the tasks¬† correctly, going the DIY route might not be a stretch. Even then, do you feel confident enough to do more than just an adequate job? If you are looking for an artisan level of quality, you may not have the skills in place to provide it.

How much time do you have?

If you’ve ever watched a renovation show on HGTV, you have a fair understanding the the project takes longer than the half an hour tv slot, but a lot of people are not aware that renovating takes time. If you’re planning on spending weekends and evenings grinding away on a renovation project, it can either make for some really long days or being without part of your home for an extended period of time. Renovation Contractors are there to keep timelines tight so they don’t interfere with your life.

Do you have all of the tools?

Need a table saw? How about a miter saw? Skill saw? Drill? Reciprocating saw? Impact driver? Drill? Box level? These are just a small number of tools that a renovation contractor would own and use on a job. Sure, you could pick yourself up these tools but because you might be only using them for your renovation project, do you pick up a good quality one or something cheap? Quality tools obviously give better results and generally are safer to use, but they can quickly add a lot of cost to your project.

Do you know any reliable sub-contractors?

Sure, we hear it all the time…you’re going to do your own electrical. Or maybe you have a cousin who is a plumber. This sounds great in theory, but in practice, can be a headache. Insurance companies are much stickier than they were about making sure that certified trades are doing the correct work and get your permits approved for the work being done is pretty much a necessity. And that cousin who happens to be a plumber…just because he lays pipe for a living doesn’t mean that he knows the code for residential work. In other words, if you don’t have the sub in place, a general contractor may save you some headaches. Even if you did hire them out on your own, it goes back to time…do you have the time to manage them?

These are just a couple of questions you ask yourself before embarking on that DIY renovation project. Just remember, although Rona promises to take you from <disappointed voice> “Gee Dave, your kitchen looks sick.” to <exciting voice> “Gee Dave, your kitchen looks sick!” a good renovation contractor can give you the same, if not better, results.