When to DIY and When to Go Pro

When to DIY and When to Go Pro

Me in my attic confirming the fact that I should definitely hire an electrician.
(Image credit: Stephanie Strickland)

We've all been there: that moment during a project when things start to go south, frustration kicks in, and you're exhausted, hangry, and considering just picking up, moving and leaving your mess behind for the next occupant to deal with. Maybe you summoned every last ounce of willpower to finish what you started, maybe you broke down and hired a professional, or maybe you've been waffling between the two and took a break to read this article. Hopefully these tips will help you figure our your next step.


When the task is within your skill/tool set - Chances are that if you have the tools for a job, you've probably used those tools before and developed some skills along the way. Go for it.

When you want to learn something new - Fewer things will teach you better or faster than hands-on experimentation. Arm yourself with lots of knowledge (online videos, books, consulting others, etc.) and the tools you need and go to town!

To feel a sense of accomplishment and pride - A successful DIY project comes with some serious bragging rights. This fact was recently discovered by my formerly-not-into-DIY fiancé when he did his own tiling and plumbing job for the first time and got a really big head about it. (Just kidding hon, I'm super proud of you, please keep doing our plumbing).

Fiancé is proud of his tiling job
(Image credit: Stephanie Strickland)

When you want your own schedule and privacy - Even if you've hired the best contractor in the world, the fact is that they will still be coming into your home and making a disturbance. Often this is during your work hours, which also happen to be their only work hours. One of the biggest perks of DIYing is that you get to skip all of this!

Demolition in my bathrobe? Don't mind if I do.
(Image credit: Stephanie Strickland)

When you want quality - You've heard the old adage, "If you want something done right, do it yourself". Chances are that not a single contractor cares about your home as much as you do, which means you get to be the one making sure the details are exactly how you like them.

When you want to save money - Super obvious. Just make sure it doesn't end up costing you MORE money when you need a professional to bail you out. Which takes us into the next part....


When the project has gotten out of hand - Maybe you were all bright-eyed and innocent when you started the project, but now you've messed things up so badly you don't even know where to start fixing it. This is a good time to call a pro before things get any worse.

When there's code involved - Professionals are especially useful when it comes to pesky things like building codes and laws. Not only are there a lot of these things, but they are updated frequently, so unless you've made it a personal hobby to keep yourself up-to-date with all of your local building requirements, call in the pros.

When you feel uncomfortable or the task is beyond your skill/tool set - While the internet is a goldmine of information for DIYers these days, sometimes there comes a job that is just plain out of your league. Whether you don't have the budget for a specialized tool, or the task just plain frightens you, it's a good indicator that you should hire someone who knows what they're doing.

When Google doesn't have the answers - You won't want to believe this, but sometimes the information you want just isn't available online. More often though, the information you want is scattered across multiple websites, videos and forums with everyone telling you something different and it's so confusing and OMG I'M SO OVERWHELMED I DON'T EVEN.... Shhhhhhhhh....Calm down and hire an experienced professional.

When you value your time - Sometimes a project will force you to weigh two things against each other: money and time. Do you save the money and spend a lot of your off hours doing it yourself? Or do you hire it out and not only enjoy a finished project sooner, but also the luxury of much-needed free time? If the answer is the latter, get yourself a professional.

To keep healthy relationships - DIY projects, especially large-scale ones, can be taxing on your relationships. Whether they're your roommates, significant others, neighbors, or friends whose weekend invitations you've declined yet again so you can "finish the bathroom", it can actually be quite priceless to be able to hand a project over to a pro while you take some time to nurse those relationships back to health.

Helpful Tips for Hiring Professionals:

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