Renovating

When to DIY or Hire Out Projects

Should you DIY or hire out projects in your renovation? It can be difficult to make the right choice. Here are some general recommendations about what projects make sense to hire out and what you may be able to tackle yourselves.

“Should I DIY or hire out projects?”

It’s sometimes tricky to identify when it’s time to bring in contractors to help you with your renovation. 

On one hand, you’d love to stretch the budget. And nothing feels quite like crushing a home DIY, amiright?

On the other hand, electrical and plumbing are no joke… and that extension ladder feels a lot higher than it looked from the ground.

After years of home renovations, my husband Mack and I have gotten a pretty clear sense of when we should DIY a project and when we’re wise to leave it to the professionals.

Should I DIY or Hire Out Projects?

Follow along on YouTube

If you’ve been following along for a while, you know I love a good DIY.

When we first bought our house, we tackled most of the updates ourselves out of necessity. We went all in on our home and had little money left over for updates.

And even all these years later as our renovation budget has increased, we still love to tackle projects ourselves when we have the time.

But there are some projects I recommend hiring out — even if money is tight.

Because some projects are downright dangerous. And that savings can quickly turn into a huge expense if something goes awry.

So what projects do I recommend leaving to the pros?

Electrical

You might be comfortable swapping out a light fixture, but much beyond that? I’d say hire a licensed electrician. Not only can a mistake be incredibly dangerous, but electrical systems are complex. So unless you or your partner is a pro yourself, I’d find a licensed electrician. 

Plumbing

While not life-threatening like electrical, a plumbing mishap can get expensive — fast. Water damage is no joke, my friend. Plus, have you ever taken apart a drain after decades of use? It’s not pretty. What seems simple rarely is. I’d save yourself the headaches and find a trusted plumber. 

Drywall and Plaster

While the pros make this seem effortless, it’s a seriously well-honed skill. And what takes a skilled professional an hour or two can take you days — and still end up not looking right (no matter how you try to hide the flaws with well-placed artwork). 

When we moved into our home, all of the ceilings and many of the closets had a strange seashell pattern and texture that couldn’t be scraped off like traditional popcorn. We opted instead to have a professional cover those surfaces with thin blue board and fresh plaster. It looks modern and clean, and he did it much more quickly than we could have. Money well spent!

When to DIY or Hire Out Projects | It's recommended to leave exterior projects to the professionals.

Exterior Work

This is a broad category, but basically if it involves the structural integrity or weather-proofing of your home (think siding, windows, roof, etc) I’d say hire it out. What seems fine today might end up causing major problems (think mold and unwanted pests) down the line. 

Even in the early days of owning this home, we opted to invest in having new windows professionally installed. And later on, when we had saved up enough to install new exterior siding and trim, we knew it was too big of a job to tackle on our own. After watching how long it took even the professionals, and how fantastic it came out in the end, we were confident we made the right choice!

Now, of course, everyone has unique skill sets. If you or your partner are trained in these areas — go for it! (And tag me on Insta — I’d love to see your skills at work!) But for the average layperson, these home renovations and updates are best left to the pros.

Home ownership is an investment, and while it’s way more fun to spend your hard-earned cash on decor and furnishings, a safe, sturdy home is money well spent.

So where can you DIY and save?

Once again, this will depend on you and your partner, but these are skills we’ve taken the time to develop and hone over the years in order to save money. 

Paint

Never underestimate the power of paint! It’s my opinion that this is one of the biggest bang-for-your-buck projects you can do yourself in your home. Not only does it make a huge positive difference, but it’s a skill that’s fairly easy to learn, and new and developing products on the market make it even easier. 

DIY painted kitchen cabinets transformed from dated orange oak to bright and smooth.

We were able to transform our entire kitchen by painting the cabinets ourselves. I went a bit crazy with research and development, but it completely paid off and I was able to transform our dated orange oak cabinets into a high-end look kitchen with a paint sprayer and some serious work. I’ll link to the tutorial below if you’re interested in that project!

It would be hard to list a spot in our home that hasn’t been touched by a paint brush now. Out of all the DIY skills, I would say this is the one that has made the most visible difference in updating our home. 

Carpentry

Full credit for this one goes to Mack. He’s an extremely talented and meticulous carpenter, which are skills that have been crucial for DIYing so much of our project. However, I know for a fact that these are skills you can also learn, because he’s taught me along the way, and I’m also passably skilled with power tools at this point. 

Not only have carpentry skills allowed us to replace all of the trim around our home, but Mack has also built all of the built-ins and a bunch of furniture in the early days of our renovation when we couldn’t afford to buy high-quality wood furniture. 

Our partnership method typically involves me designing a piece or a concept and Mack refining it and bringing it to life. Then I’m in charge of finishing work, whether that’s painting or staining. 

Design

Speaking of design, I recently addressed in my post How to See the Potential in a Dated Space the lie that I used to believe about design. I once thought a design eye is something you’re born with and you either have or you don’t. 

But years of working with clients and talking with readers have taught me it’s a skill that can be learned if someone has the desire to do so. So many people have a decent handle on designing and decorating, and just need a bit of help bringing everything together. There’s a repeatable process where anyone can be a designer in their own remodel with the right guidance.

Looking for more guidance on your projects?

And so I set out to create my Home Goals course. It’s filled with tried-and-true space planning, mood board creating, renovation, finishing, and styling tips to take your home from fixer-upper to finished dream home.

I’ve compiled over a decade’s worth of information, research, and lessons learned to save you precious time and reduce overwhelm along the way. Plus, when you join Home Goals, you get exclusive access to an online community of homeowners like you. People looking to bring their dream homes to life, and offer support and insights on your Home Goals journey, one project at a time. You can sign up for my free ebook and to learn more at the link below this video.

DIY or Hire Out Projects : The Time-Cost Analysis

At some point in your renovation, there’s a pretty good chance that you’ll get to a point where you have to do a time-cost analysis. 

You can look at this in the traditional sense: will I save money by hiring this out versus buying the tools and attempting to develop the skills on my own? 

Or you can look at the time and cost as also being the true value of your time.

For my husband Mack, who owns a business and works full-time outside of our home, he values his weekends as his only time off and when we can spend time as a family and relax. As time has gone on, he’s understandably been more protective of that time and we’ve deemed it worthwhile to hire more projects out, even if they’re things we’re technically capable of doing. So that’s definitely something to consider too. 

All in all, whether to hire out or DIY projects is going to be a personal choice that makes sense for your specific situation and family, but I hope that this post provided some guidance or maybe even gave you the confidence to tackle a DIY.

When to DIY or Hire Out Projects — painting is a skill that can easily be learned and makes the biggest difference in your renovation.