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4 Times It Pays to Hire a Contractor for Home Renovations

[Updated: Jan 12, 2021] Jan 15, 2020 by Maurie Backman
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Renovating your home is a great way to increase its value and make it a more comfortable place to live. The only downside? The costs involved. This especially holds true when you hire a contractor and then have to pay for labor on top of your materials costs and any permit fees.

In fact, it's the desire to save money (more so than the love of the sweat) that often drives homeowners to go the do-it-yourself route. But in some cases, you're much better off hiring a contractor than attempting a renovation solo. Here's when you should really throw some extra money at the problem and call it a day.

1. The work isn't safe

It's one thing to do renovation work that's not particularly pleasant, like repainting your deck on a hot summer day or regrouting your bathroom tiles. But if the work in question is potentially dangerous, then hiring a contractor is really your best bet. Such scenarios might include:

  • Electrical work (assuming you're not an electrician or don't have similar training)
  • Landscaping work requiring machinery or heavy lifting
  • Roofing projects

Injuring yourself in the course of a home renovation is a good way to add to your costs (not to mention put your body at risk). Rather than take that chance, find someone well equipped to tackle the work at hand.

2. The work is complicated or requires specific skills

Some home projects are well suited to renovation newbies, like painting, replacing the carpet, or even refacing cabinetry. But even if you've done your share of home improvements, there are certain jobs that may be too complex for you to tackle solo. For example, replacing a water heater might seem like something you can do alone, or with the help of a friend, but if you break a pipe in the process, you could have a major leak on your hands. The same holds true for anything that requires you to tap into your home's ductwork.

3. The work is too time-consuming for your schedule

If you're somewhat experienced in home renovations, you may be able to handle certain projects without a contractor. But if you're talking about work that requires numerous hours of labor, then you may want to hire someone rather than let the process drag on for months.

Imagine you're looking to finish your basement. You may have the skills needed to put up walls, install flooring, paint, and do most of the things involved in the process. But if tackling that project yourself will cause it to take four months, while a contractor can get it done in four weeks or less, then it could pay to expedite things to avoid living in a long-term construction zone.

4. Your time is worth more money than the savings involved

Some home renovations are fairly simple but require time and patience. Installing a kitchen backsplash, for instance, is something most people can do solo, as is painting fences or walls. But if you're self-employed and can usually command a pretty competitive rate for the work you do, then you may be better off financially by hiring a contractor for home improvements and spending your time on what you do best.

Imagine, for instance, that sinking three hours into a home project will save you $150 in contractor costs. If you generally earn $100 an hour as a consultant, you'll come out ahead by outsourcing that project and spending your time working instead.

Choose your DIY projects carefully

There's nothing wrong with trying to save money on home improvements by doing renovation work yourself. But in some cases, the risks and downsides outweigh the savings involved. In those situations, you're better off hiring a contractor than getting your own hands dirty.

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