Should I DIY My Own Remodel?
In a world of YouTube tutorials and free Amazon 2-day shipping, we often think that we can handle the challenge of a DIY remodel project. We see the influencers we follow learn how to set tile and redo their own backsplash and we see these beautiful projects that were done on Pinterest, however there are a lot of things that someone needs to consider before they decide to move forward DIYing their own remodel project.
One quick caveat, though: this article isn’t written for the handyman working on their own home. This is written for the young family that just bought their first home and want to make improvements. Perhaps you worked summer jobs where you learned to set tile and install LVP flooring, or perhaps you work in construction and have the experience already. This article is written for the person who has hammered a few nails or may own a cordless drill but has never really gotten their hands dirty in a restoration project. If that describes you, please read on.
What skills do you already have?
Perhaps one of the first questions that someone should ask before starting your own DIY project is whether you have the necessary skills to actually do the project. Have you laid tile before? Or have you installed cabinetry? Or have you installed lighting? Some things can be learned in a short period of time, yes, but the gap in the quality of work that someone who is just starting out can do vs a professional with years of experience is really quite large.
One thing to consider is that the people who are instructing on the DIY videos are professionals who have years of training trying to teach a general audience. They cannot see the work that you’re performing and they can’t help when corrections are needed. Learning to recognize when you need to make corrections is an incredibly important piece of the installation puzzle. Which brings us to our next point…
Do you know recognize when something is done incorrectly?
It may seem like one could assume that if something looks good then the job must have been done adequately. However, this isn’t necessarily the case. Things may look good to the untrained eye, but a professional may see an issue that will become a problem in the short or long term. Their experience and expertise include training to know when something is done incorrectly, not to code, or haphazardly. A pro will fix this quickly where the untrained DIYer may not even realize that there is a problem.
Are you comfortable planning everything out?
Even a small remodel project has several steps that need to be taken in order to be successful, and those steps need to be carefully planned. Can you properly take measurements, design and plan the installation, surgically demo the correct areas, install the project and finish everything according to the plan? Professionals have years of training in specialized areas: a designer has a degree that ensures they know how to design a project, plan it, and make sure that it’s correct. A GC knows how to properly schedule a project so that things are done in the correct order and knows what needs to be done for any permits, what proper building code is, etc. An installer knows how to do the physical work of demo and installation. There really is a lot that goes into any construction project!
Do you know the correct sequence of events for a project?
When conducting a remodel project, it’s important to understand what needs to be done first, second, third, etc. Doing things in the wrong order can have major ramifications down the line. For example, if you were working on a bathroom, you wouldn’t want to decide to change your shower pan after you had already finished everything else. By saving that for last, you’ve covered all of the shower plumbing and drain, making it impossible to replace anything without having to demo the wall and floor that you had already finished. Experience is what is going to guide what order you do different phases of a project.
But I really think I can do this!
If you really want to try your hand at DIYing a project, don’t take on the entire kitchen all at once. Start small. Re-tile the small powder bath and see how that goes. Try one part of a small space that you can close the door. That way, if it looks terrible you can shut the door and have it corrected later. Most likely your first tile job will have issues, no matter how closely you followed instructions. You are, after all, learning a new skill set, one that a pro has spent years mastering.
Also, be prepared for the amount of time that it will take to do any of these projects. You may be able to do the work, but it’s going to take you three times longer than a skilled professional simply because you don’t have the experience that they do. Plus, this is the installer’s full-time job, they are doing all of this work for 8 plus hours during the day, while you probably only have nights and weekends, meaning that the available work hours that you have for any given project are much less than a pro.
The other thing to remember is that, should you need to tear something out and redo it, you may not see as much of a cost savings to make it worth the time and effort it will take to do it yourself. Having to redo tile would probably require having to purchase more tile to replace the ones that were set incorrectly and likely broken when removed.
Pros and Cons of DIY:
Potential cost savings
Takes much longer
Requires skills that you may not possess
Need to buy or rent equipment you don’t have
You are responsible for the outcome
Pros and Cons of hiring a professional
Project finishes on timeframe and budget anticipated
Accountability for outcome
Work takes much less time
Doesn’t require you to learn a new skill
Ultimately it comes down to what you are able to tolerate in the process and with the outcome of your work. If you can handle the time and effort it will take for you to learn a new skill and to do all of the work yourself, then can you live with the end results? Looking at the pros and cons, it may simply be worth the extra cost of hiring a professional, especially when you will likely appreciate the end product that much more.
So, if you would like to save yourself the time and headaches and ensure that you’re going to love your spaces for years to come, then talk to one of our designers today!