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It’s Time to Renovate: Do You DIY or Hire a Pro?

When it comes to home renovations, you have 2 options: tackle the work yourself (DIY) or hire a professional contractor.

If you’re looking to save money, the DIY route may seem like the obvious choice. Most materials are available at any major hardware store and thanks to social media channels like YouTube, you have access to tons of tutorials to help you tackle just about any household project out there – how hard could it be, right?


But maybe your free time is scarce, you have little ones to care for, or you find household projects intimidating. For you, hiring a pro is 100% the way to go.

Not sure which way is best for you? Let’s weigh the pros and cons to find out:



Want to try DIY?

Pros

  • You can learn a new skill. Being handy around the home comes in, well, handy! Plus, it makes you more self-reliant.

  • You can save money. With the right materials and proper guidance, doing a project yourself can save you on labour costs.

  • You earn bragging rights. DIY gives you a sense of accomplishment and can bring you a lot of joy when you see the results of all your hard work.

  • You get a workout. Nothing like a little hard labour to tone those muscles.


Cons

  • You can run into delays. What happens if things take longer than expected? Can you be without your bathroom for another week? Month?

  • Your time is limited (and valuable). Unless you’re on vacation, your work schedule may be a factor in how quickly you can finish a job. Plus, time spent on your DIY project can take away from your other commitments.

  • You could end up spending more. Tools and supplies for a first-timer add up. And if things go wrong and you need to call in a professional for reinforcements, you may end up spending more than you originally intended to.

  • You may be disappointed with the outcome. Don’t be too hard on yourself but the reality is, this isn’t your expertise, so it’s possible you may not be happy with the quality of work in the end.

  • You don’t have all the background knowledge or skills. DIY leaves a large room for error and poses safety concerns that you might not be aware of (think wiring, pipes, asbestos, etc.)


Thinking about hiring a professional?


Pros

  • You can expect high-quality results. That’s why they’re the professionals – they know what they’re doing and how to do it well.

  • Safety measures are covered. At least they SHOULD be (see our tips below on protecting yourself and the team on your project.)

  • Their work comes with a warranty. Any top-notch contractor will provide a 3rd party warranty, so if there are any issues, there are steps you can take to get this corrected.

  • They can increase the value of your home. When done properly, upgrades can improve your home’s resale value, earning you money on your upfront investment.


Cons

  • Higher costs. Professional services have a price.


Tips To Make Your Renovation Project Easier


DIY can be a great experience if you’re prepared, informed and safe. Here are some things to consider if you’re going to undertake a DIY project:

  • Do your research in advance to ensure you’ve secured all the necessary tools, materials and permits to tackle your project to eliminate downtime once you’ve started.

  • Start small and focus on cosmetic renovations. Remember the law requires a building permit, electrical permit, and plumbing permit, depending on your project. If your project involves plumbing, electrical or structural changes, consider hiring a pro. Unsure of what permits you may need for your project? Contact your local municipality for all the details.

  • Make sure you give yourself realistic timelines.

  • Think about the safety aspects of your DIY project:

  • Do you have someone who can help you with heavy lifting or safely reaching high-up places?

  • What happens if you or someone else is seriously injured?

  • Is there any risk of doing major damage to the home (ex: a fire from electrical issues, or water damage due to plumbing problems?)


DIY not your thing? There’s no shame in calling in the pros! When hiring a professional, make sure you cover these bases:

  • Research your options. Find the best builder for your needs. Look at their past work, get client testimonials and ask for recommendations from people you trust. Organizations like the Canadian Home Builders’ Association – New Brunswick are a great resource because they require their members to be up to date on training, carry insurance, and provide guarantees on their work.

  • Use a handy checklist to make sure you are fully prepared and informed when hiring a contractor.

  • Ensure your contractor has Occupational Health and Safety coverage through WorkSafeNB. As the homeowner you are 100% responsible for the safety of anyone you hire to complete a renovation. Should there be a workplace accident on your property you will be held liable for damages and could be fined.

  • Never pay in cash. A cash deal is never a good deal – they often come without a written contract or guarantees, and that means you have no proof if things go sideways, and you need to take legal action.

  • Make sure you’re protected!

  • Ensure all necessary building codes and permits are secured.

  • Contact your insurance company in advance of hiring a contractor to ensure that you have appropriate insurance while your house is under construction or renovation.

  • Get a written contract that includes a full description of the work, materials, timelines, payment schedule, and confirmation of GST/HST number, business liability insurance, and workers’ compensation coverage.

  • Get a written warranty that specifies what is covered and for how long.

Whichever way you choose to approach your home renovation, remember to be safe, do your research, and make informed decisions that are best for you!

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