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Can I Do it Myself or Should I Hire a Contractor

As a homeowner, this is a question you have to ask yourself before starting a major home improvement project. Too much confidence when it comes to work around the house can be a bad thing if your level of skill and commitment don't match up with your good intentions. Be honest with yourself from the get-go - for larger or more complex projects, hiring a contractor may be your best bet. For smaller jobs that are fairly straightforward, strapping on the D-I-Y tool belt might be the smartest choice. It really all depends on your D-I-Y abilities and the difficulty of the project. The amount of time you can commit to a project is also something to take into consideration.

The biggest mistake you can make is to get so excited you start demolishing your house without properly planning ahead, and knowing whether or not you have the ability to handle the project properly. Even if you're skilled enough to pull it off, many people begin work only to leave the project unfinished once the excitement wears off. It's not uncommon for do-it-yourselfers to live with half-finished rooms for months on end, putting stress on the whole family.

And remember: remodeling is actually more difficult and time consuming than starting from scratch, simply because there are so many unknowns involved in the entire process. The potential exists for many things to go wrong, especially if you own an older home with plaster walls.

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If you're unsure about the decision, especially for a large project, a good idea is to try smaller repairs first. If everything goes smoothly with your 'test' projects, it's a good indication that you're ready to take on something bigger.

Of course, many people decide to tackle a home improvement project to save money. Professional rates can be quite high, so if you have the right skills to accomplish your D-I-Y goals, you can save a lot of money in the long run. If, however, you realize that a pro will get the task done faster than you (and achieve a better result) forking over a little more cash may save you trouble and make the endeavor easier overall.

A great compromise is to take advantage of both worlds. Hire a contractor for the really difficult grunt work that requires special expertise, and then finish the job yourself. For instance, many homeowners have no problem painting or installing floors, so it makes sense to leave this type of work for yourself.

In the end, the final decision rests in your hands, and depends on your personal circumstances and financial position. Do what's best for you and you'll be happy with the results.


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