Whether you’re baking from scratch or painting your house, DIY feels great! But while some projects are clearly DIY-friendly, others can be surprisingly tedious or complicated—and you might not always guess which are which going in.
Let’s take a couple of common home improvement projects and see how they stack up. To do this, we’ll weigh the following criteria:
- Time: How long will the task take if you do it yourself? An hour, a day, a weekend? How much time feels okay to you?
- Cost: Does DIY make for a substantial savings? Or is the benefit to your wallet minimal? Sometimes you’ll save a bundle, but other times DIY projects can cost more than hiring a pro or buying something ready-made.
- Fun: How much joy will you take in doing the job? Does it feel like a chore, or are you looking forward to the project?
- Outcome: If you mess it up, how much does it matter? Could you fix a problem easily if one arose? Remember, some kinds of work can pose real safety dangers.
You can use these yourself to figure out what projects you want to handle on your own! Now, for those examples…
DIY Painting or Hire a Professional Painter
- Time: Depends how much wall you need to cover! But unless you live in a mansion, you’re probably looking at somewhere between a couple of hours and a couple of weekends. Not too bad.
- Cost: Painters can be pricey. This one’s worth doing yourself if you can spare the time. Remember that if you spring for better quality paint, the cost evens out because you’ll need fewer coats. You’ll also spend less time painting as a result!
- Fun: It’s soooo satisfying to see a wall change colour in front of your very eyes! But if you have a bum knee or a bad back, the full-body movement can be taxing, and moving furniture may be impossible. Also, applying painters’ tape can be tedious. If these factors are at play for you, consider hiring a pro.
- Outcome: A mistake is probably no biggie. Just paint over it! Ask the paint store employee for basic tips before you start so you can avoid common pitfalls, like forgetting to use primer on a dark wall.
DIY Window treatments or work with a certified designer and professional installer
Hunter Douglas Silhouette® window shadings
- Time: If you’re a sewing whiz, whipping up curtains might take you a couple of hours plus fabric shopping time. Blinds and shutters, on the other hand, can suck up a lot of time at two stages: choice and installation. To pick correctly, you have to consider the depth of the window sill, interactions with furniture, whether you need an inside or outside mount, what fabric or design will fit your needs, and so much more. It’s surprising how many details come into play. An expert’s help can cut the time drastically. And when it comes to installation, well, let’s just say it’s a fussy affair.
- Cost: Depends. Sewing your own curtains means you just pay for the fabric and rods. For blinds, you may be able to use recycled ones if you do it yourself, especially if your windows are standard sizes and you don’t mind poring over Craigslist ads. On the other hand, while hiring an expert isn’t a bargain-basement affair, it’s more reasonable than you might think. Also, it can save you big bucks in by avoiding mistakes. For instance, with newly bought blinds, if you’re off by even 1/16th of an inch in your measurements, you’re heading right back to the store – and lots of places won’t accept returns on treatments that have been tailored. Someone who’s used to dealing with the picky particulars can help you avoid pricey pitfalls.
- Fun: If you’re super crafty, you might love the process of creating fabric window treatments yourself. When it comes to blinds and shutters, the real fun part is exploring all the options with a designer who knows their stuff and wants to help you get the perfect choice! Installing them isn’t much of a party—much better to let folks with special tools take care of it.
- Outcome: With window treatments, there are lots of factors to consider. Even if you know what style you like, the functional options are endless. And that’s just for regular windows, to say nothing of arched frames, bay windows, French doors, and so forth, all with special considerations. If you’re seeking a short-term solution, DIY isn’t so bad. But if you want a window treatment that will fit perfectly, look great and stay functional for many years, expert help is a must.
DIY Flooring or hire a professional hard surface / carpet installer
- Time: Depends greatly on the size of the space you’re working on and the type of flooring you’re installing. Do your research and pick a project that’s within your skill level. Expect to spend from one to three days on each room.
- Cost: DIY flooring is relatively low-cost compared to hiring a pro. Material costs vary, of course, but there is always a lot of labour involved; doing it yourself saves you the labour costs outright. But make sure you measure your materials properly! If you cut it too small or on the wrong angle, you’re paying for replacement materials, which can double your costs in a few fateful seconds.
- Fun: Let’s be real. Flooring is a hard job, and can really hurt your body. Even if you’re young and spry, holding unusual positions for many hours can strain your back and bruise your knees. Also, the precision level required can be a bore, and sometimes you may be inhaling glue or other nasty chemicals up close. It’s not the most entertaining way to spend a weekend. That said: power tools are a blast.
- Outcome: If you do it right, your floor may be indistinguishable from a pro job, and you’ll feel proud every time you walk on it! If it doesn’t go so well, remember you’ll be seeing your mistakes every time you walk in the room – and tearing it all up is hard work all over again, not to mention wasteful. This one can be a tough call!