There are many relatively simple projects that can be completed by homeowners. However, it’s also important to know when to stop and hire a professional.
Q: All these television shows make it seem like anyone can perform remodels without fuss. I’m not convinced. Isn’t hiring a pro the smarter option in most cases?
A: It’s fun and inspiring to watch HGTV and other programs on home design and remodeling — everything from the latest trends in cabinetry to whole-home renovations is available on demand. YouTube, Vimeo and other sites are also chock full of helpful how-tos to assist homeowners with their DIY projects.
There are relatively simple home projects that can be completed by you, such as hanging pictures, interior painting, caulking, and changing out door knobs or cabinet pulls. Some homeowners, with the correct tools and a higher skill level, might even tackle more extensive work, such as installing crown molding.
However, it’s also important to know when to stop and hire a professional.
Remodelers can tell you lots of funny stories about siding, molding and other products installed backward or upside-down. Sometimes there are scarier stories involving DIY electrical wiring and plumbing work gone awry.
Before you buy the latest gadget or tool for your next home project, ask yourself a few questions.
How much do you know? Replacing the exhaust fan over your oven with a built-in microwave looks like a reasonably simple swap. But is it? If you notice your kitchen lights dimming when making popcorn, you may have forgotten that the microwave, unlike an exhaust fan, uses more energy and requires a dedicated circuit. A remodeling professional knows this and much more about current residential building codes and standards. When is the last time you read up on these?
What if it doesn’t work? DIY videos can make tilework and other projects look like a breeze. But if you don’t lay the tiles straight, will YouTube give you a refund? That’s doubtful. Professional remodelers may not know everything, but they do take responsibility for their work. As a member of their local builder association, remodelers must comply with a code of ethics and provide a warranty.
Are there any unintended consequences? In today’s higher-efficiency, airtight homes (built in the ’90s and after), it’s important to consider the home as a system. New windows keep out drafts, but how do they affect your home’s air quality after the natural ventilation that the leaky ones provided is gone? Will a new air source be needed? Do you need to review the mechanical ventilation systems? These are questions a professional can help you with.
How do you know if it’s right for your home? What looks good in print or online may seem like a great concept and feature the right look for your home. But is it really best for your home? Only a professional remodeler has the education and experience to advise you on the products and finishes that match your lifestyle, but also your home’s location and environment, house size and, of course, your budget. Professionals can help you avoid spending money without receiving a return on your investment, either up front or in the future when it’s time to sell.
Melissa Irons is the showroom manager at Irons Brothers Construction and a member of the Master Builders Association (MBA) of King and Snohomish Counties. If you have a home improvement, remodeling or residential homebuilding question you’d like answered by one of the MBA’s more than 2,800 members, write to firstname.lastname@example.org.