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Calling in a professional isn't something you should do regarding only your money, though. Professionals can come in handy in many parts of your life. For instance, your home. If you're a somewhat handy sort, it can be tempting to rely just on yourself when something around the house breaks or is in need of some attention. But as with money management, when it comes to home repairs, doing it yourself isn't always best. Here are some enlightening snippets on the topic from posts made on our Building / Maintaining a Home discussion board.
Sneakpuff said, in this post, that, "[Hiring a professional] .may also be cheaper than doing it yourself. I'll give you an example of what can happen. And, remember that I'm a professional electrician and have been in the construction trade for almost 30 years, so I know quit a bit about how everything that has to do with building a house is done. I've seen and know how every trade does their work. I've built four homes and only hired a general contractor for the last one. (It took me the three prior jobs to wise up)
"I framed my second house because it looked pretty easy and when I saw the framing bid I figured I could do it myself and save a bundle. By the time I got finished, I had paid 30% more for lumber than the framing bid had in it so I pretty much lost anything I could hope to save. The reason I paid 30% more for lumber was #1 I didn't get the same price as the framing contractor. #2 I made lots of mistakes and ruined lots of lumber, so I had to buy more.
"I did get lots of really good experience and now I know a lot more about framing than I knew before I framed the house. But I also got a bad case of tennis elbow in my right arm which still bothers me, 20 years after I framed the house. I smashed my left thumb with a framing hammer, lost the nail and when it grew back it grew back crooked.
"I would never frame my own house again. The pros are just too efficient to make it worthwhile. I've learned the same truth about drywall, concrete, aluminum siding, stucco, masonry work, painting and ceramic tile... At least for me, the only things I would do myself are electrical, plumbing and HVAC. I would do those because the labor involved is more expensive than most of the other trades and they are more like what I do every day for a living. Even though I know how to do all the other stuff, it's just not worth the hassle."
Hardwood floors on your own
In a different discussion on the same board, TexasRugger posted a note explaining how he installed hardwood floors himself and under what circumstances he'd recommend that others do so.
"I'd be happy to tell you our long story of installing hardwood floors.. As with many home improvements, you can either do it right or you can do it quickly. We chose to do the floors ourselves, and in return did a better job than any contractor I have seen and we did it without paying for the installation. That being said, I did a lot of research about best methods of installation and have to tell you that to do it right, it will require some patience and a lot of time. As a side note, most floor contractors pay no attention to proper sub-floor preparation and just slap the stuff in. The reason? It looks fine for a few years. By the time the problems begin to show from a poorly prepared floor, the contractor is long gone. I have seen way too many homes done by the lowest-cost contractor that look horrible. A good wood floor installer who will do proper pre-floor work (moisture content, flatness, etc) usually charges about $2.50 a square foot just for installation, adding substantially to the cost of the floor.
"If you have a slab and choose to [glue down your floor] (like we did), you have to measure the moisture level of the slab and make sure the slab is flat (not necessarily level, although that helps too). Once you have these two in control, you can glue away...
"Also, just for your clarification, there are more or less three types of wood floors -- solid, engineered and laminate. Engineered and laminate are not the same thing. Laminate is a print of wood underneath plastic or resin that is designed to look like wood. The structure underneath is all a form of particle board. Engineered wood is a layer of real wood (some are pretty thin, the better Engineered woods offer a nice top layer) on top of several layers of what is effectively plywood. Engineered wood has advantages over solid in that it is designed to counter the effects of expansion and contraction due to changes in weather, humidity, etc. [All woods expand and contract.] Due to its construction, engineered wood doesn't suffer nearly as bad as real wood.
"The shows on HGTV make it look pretty easy -- and it is if you want to do the quick and easy way. But what they don't show you is how it looks after three years, and several other things that just don't come through on TV. Have you ever walked on a floating floor? It literally feels like you're walking on a floating floor. And it sounds like you're walking on a rubber mat. Personally, I want my wood floors to look like wood floors and feel and sound like wood floors when you walk on them.
"So, to answer your question, yes -- it can be done, and you can save a lot of money doing it. We chose engineered Brazilian cherry wood (almost three times harder than oak and looks much more distinct from the oak that everyone has) and paid under $5 a foot for it. I installed about 700 feet of it in our living room, dining room and hallway. This included a fireplace, which I framed with the wood. But, it really was a big strain for us all, took almost all of our spare time and tested our patience.
"I would say if you are going to invest in wood floors, do it the right way. Lowest cost is not always the best way to go. I'd be happy to answer any other questions you might have..."
Remember, these are simply the opinions of two people in our online Fool Community. Pop into our Building / Maintaining a Home discussion board (there's a free 30-day trial available now) and you can tap the opinions and experiences of many other people. Share your advice, too, while you're there!
Selena Maranjian called in a pro when she bought her house and discovered it needed some work. For more about Selena, view her bio and her profile. You might also be interested in these books she has written or co-written: The Motley Fool Money Guide and The Motley Fool Investment Guide for Teens . The Motley Fool is Fools writing for Fools.