Home Renovation - Hired vs DIY

There’s nothing quite like the satisfaction of tackling a home renovation project yourself. But, living in a construction zone is less than ideal. When should you DIY a renovation, and when should you hire it out?

No matter who is doing your renovation, you should be prepared for some disruptions to your daily life. From putting items into storage to living under a layer of dust, here’s how you can plan to make it through. There is more to consider than the latest home renovation trends and building materials. 

Home Renovation - Hired vs DIY

Make a List, Check it Twice

You may have gathered supplies and cleared your space for your project, but did you check to see if you need a permit for it? Here are some common home renovations that require permits.

  • Anything near the property line

  • Roofing

  • Adding exterior windows and doors

  • Electrical/gas work

  • Decking

  • Finishing a basement

Weekend Warrior Gameplan

You have the tools and the vision, but how do you execute a renovation from start to finish? If you’re doing it yourself, make sure you’ve done your research and know the steps for knocking out your reno as efficiently as possible.

Do an Inspection

It never fails that once you open up part of your home, you’re faced with additional, surprise projects on top of what you initially set out to do. A thorough inspection of your home can help you prepare for the unexpected. Before you knock out walls, have a professional determine if your home can handle that. Figure out the condition of things such as your foundation, the electrical, and the plumbing.

Set Your Budget

Plan ahead of time to stick to your budget. Inevitably, you’ll face some surprise expenses along the way. Splurging on something that isn’t necessary may come back to haunt you when you realize you need to replace an essential fixture in your home.

Draw it Out

Make sure you have your home renovation project on paper. Having even rough sketches of your intended design can help you get valuable feedback and help. Your drawings don’t have to be to scale, but having measurements noted will make it easier for you to measure twice, cut once.


Is there anything more satisfying than ripping out the faux-rock fireplace after staring at it and hating it for years? Or how about pulling up warped wood floors that have stubbed their last toe? It may be amazing, but what are you going to do with all the debris from the demo? Be sure you rent a dumpster so you’re not stuffing construction materials in your curbside trash bin for the rest of the year until they’re all gone. You can get a green waste dumpster for yard projects, and regular dumpsters for your interior renovations.

At this point, you may realize it’s time to hand off your project to the professionals. However, you can save a lot of money doing the design and demo work yourself beforehand. 

Hiring a Contractor

Let’s say you’ve done some of the prep yourself, and now it’s time to bring in your contractor. What should you expect from the professionals who will make your home renovation dreams a reality?

Proper Licensing and Insurance

Depending on what state you live in, a contractor may be required to have a building license for work valued at a certain amount. A General Building Contractor License is usually obtained with proof of relevant work experience, and by passing business, trade, and law exams. Additionally, hire a contractor who carries insurance so you’re not held liable for any damage or injuries sustained on the job.

Verified Reviews

You may love the work you see posted online by a contractor, but do you have proof it’s actually theirs? Before you entrust your home renovation into someone else’s hands, seek out verified reviews for their business. Look them up online and look for reviews that the contractor doesn’t have access to. For example, on their website or social media accounts, a contractor can choose to publish only favorable reviews. On Google or Yelp, anything goes. The last thing you want is to get scammed out of your hard-earned money by a contractor who takes off mid-project, or whose work isn’t as good as you expected.


Once you’ve found the perfect contractor, lay out the terms for communicating about the project. Knowing when to expect the workers, and knowing when payments will be made are two huge topics to discuss. Be clear that you will not pay for a job 100% upfront. Instead, set up a payment plan that allows the contractor to pay his subcontractors and purchase materials as needed. 

How to Survive Living in a Remodel

It’s never easy to live in a construction zone, but just keep reminding yourself the end justifies the means. So if you’re cooking on a camp stove in the living room while your new kitchen is being built, know that it will be worth it in the end! Still, a positive attitude can only take you so far. Here are some more concrete tips for how to survive living in the midst of your remodel.

Seal It Off

To keep dust from settling over every surface of your home, use plastic, tape, and a ventilation system to redirect it. This is especially imperative during the demolition process, and when having new drywall installed and prepped for paint. Whether you’re doing it yourself or having a trusted contractor carry out the work, do what you can to keep the work and living spaces separate.

Get Organized

Before you no longer have access to your basement, your primary living space, or one of your bathrooms, get everything organized. Create new, temporary storage for your pantry items, designate a new family hangout zone in advance, and make sure all necessary toiletries are easy to transport in bathroom caddies. Prep yourself and your family for a “new normal” way of doing things while your home is under construction.

Take Advantage of the Seasons

Is it possible to time your remodel with the seasons? Maybe you can redo the kitchen during the summer so you’re able to use the backyard grill to prepare some of your meals. Or, can you have all the floors refinished during the kids’ break from school so you could stay in a rental for a mini-vacation without disrupting their studies? If you’re having a rental property repaired or renovated, be sure to do so at a time when rentals aren’t in high demand so you don’t miss out on securing new tenants.

Think outside the box and examine the calendar before committing to your project’s timeline. And speaking of timeline, always mentally prepare yourself for the likelihood that the work will take longer than you anticipate. Raw material and labor shortages can affect your project, as can discovering unexpected work that needs to be done.

No matter the circumstances during your remodel, keep the end goal in mind- more enjoyable living space, better equity when it’s time to sell, or a more valuable property to advertise to potential renters.

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