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A do-it-yourself remodel can be a budget-friendly way to freshen up your home. For some projects, it may take just a few YouTube videos to show you how to modernize your space.
But not every project is right for amateur renovators. Your skill level, budget and how important the project is to your home’s value can all be deciding factors in whether to call a professional.
Here are home remodel projects you can probably DIY, and those that are better left to experts.
DIY THE FLOORS AND WALLS
Aminah Chung and her husband Bernard, who share their DIY projects on social media, updated their Phoenix-area home’s master bedroom and pantry, and built a playhouse for their kids.
Starting in small spaces or trying simple changes, like paint or paneling on a wall, can help you build confidence for bigger rooms, Aminah Chung says.
With a little extra research, installing new floors can be a spare-time project, says San Diego-based DIYer Liz Lovery. She and her husband, a former structural engineer, installed laminate flooring in their home.
Tools can be a significant portion of your DIY budget, says Chris Egner, president of the National Association of the Remodeling Industry. Add those costs to your budget, and ask if the tools are worth the investment, he says.
USE CAUTION IN KITCHENS AND BATHROOMS
Homeowners should consider their skills before committing to a full DIY kitchen or bathroom remodel, Lovery says, because those spaces are often essential to your home’s value.
Some things, like painting the cabinets, may be within reach. But if you need new cabinets installed and you don’t feel confident about accurately measuring for them, Lovery says it may be worth using a professional to get a quality finished product.
Using a contractor for a kitchen or bath remodel might cost tens of thousands of dollars, but Egner says their knowledge of building codes and design best practices may end up saving you money because they’ll do the job correctly.
A designer can show you multiple options for a new layout and predict possible issues down the line, says Kevin Brown, design manager with Sunnyfields, a Baltimore-based kitchen and bath remodeling company.
The project may also finish faster, Brown says, since a professional can coordinate electricians and plumbers, avoiding “a real nightmare” of potential delays if you do it yourself.
The Chungs have two kids and full-time jobs, so a DIY kitchen remodel would take a lot longer, Aminah Chung says.
OUTSOURCE PLUMBING, HVAC, ELECTRICAL WORK
It’s best to let experts handle systems that make your house function, like the electrical, plumbing and HVAC system, Egner says. This work often involves permits and background knowledge, and the cost of a misstep can be high.
Lovery is willing to knock down walls in her home, but she makes room in her budget to outsource some work, saving potential headaches down the road.
MANAGING HOME IMPROVEMENT COSTS
If you’re still undecided, have a contractor write up an estimate and compare it with your DIY budget, Egner says. You can search for professionals on the NARI website.