Should You DIY Or Call A Pro?

Sometimes it's tempting to try to cut corners on home projects by DIYing. But knowing if you should DIY or call a pro will save you more in the long run.

Let’s face it, being a homeowner is not for the faint of heart. When you rent, you call your landlord every time something needs fixing. But when you own, YOU’RE the landlord and YOU’RE the one whose dollars and time need to go into making that fix happen. It can be tempting to try to cut corners (and save money) by fixing things yourself, rather than calling in the pros. But SHOULD you DIY or call a pro?

Knowing the difference between what jobs you can handle, and what jobs really do require professional help, is crucial if you want to save yourself money and hassle down the road.

Case in point: The previous owners of our current home were big on DIY in cases where they shouldn’t have been. Thanks to their less-than-expert efforts, a crimp in the water line running to our ice maker came back to haunt us this past May.

That crimp decimated our kitchen’s hardwood floor, flooded our basement, and destroyed several chunks of our basement’s ceiling and interior walls. The damage took six months and over $16,000 (covered by insurance, thank goodness!) to repair. And nearly seven months later, we’re still trying to get everything resettled.

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Don’t make the same expensive mistakes that the previous owners of this house (and countless other homeowners over time) have made. Sometimes you CAN save a small fortune by DIYing, but other times it’s better to call in the pros. Here are a few examples.

This is a collaboration post. However, please know I stand behind everything written here, and only include links to products/services/resources I’m willing to recommend personally.

Call A Pro: Your heating system stops working

There’s nothing worse than having your heating system break down in the middle of the winter. Trust me, this is one time you definitely need to call a pro. If you’re on top of things, you’ve already had the pros in for your annual maintenance check.

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In our area at least, that fall maintenance check comes with priority scheduling for any emergency calls PLUS a discount on emergency repairs. Trust me: when it comes to heating, you need to call in the professionals. Especially because many people’s heating systems involve natural gas, which is dangerous to mess with unless you know what you’re doing.

Possible DIY: Replace your water heater

If you have any sort of aptitude with plumbing and/or electrical repairs, replacing your water heater is one thing you MIGHT be able to handle yourself. I personally don’t fall into this category, but I know both my husband and my mama have tackled small DIY plumbing repairs.

If you’re feeling confident enough to give this a try, then check out How To Replace Your Hot Water Heater: Help for the DIY Homeowner. Of course, you’ll need to set aside a weekend to tackle this project start to finish, and call in the pros if you have any difficulties whatsoever. But this is one DIY that could save you a bundle.

Call A Pro: Major Renovation Projects

The kitchen and the bathroom are traditionally two of the most expensive rooms to renovate in your home, and for good reason. Unless you have a lot of pro-grade skills and tools, trust me: pros will finish the job MUCH better, and at a much higher quality, than anything you could do yourself. (See references above to previous homeowner’s DIY water line installation.)  From the electrical work and plumbing hookups to installing cabinets and flooring, calling in the pros means the job will be done right in weeks, versus poorly done over the course of months.

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If you ARE thinking about upgrading these rooms, there are plenty of smaller jobs you can handle yourself that will cost much less than the major overhauls that require a pro. Swapping out cabinet doors or hardware is one example; regrouting tile is another. But my favorite DIY-friendly way to give a room a new look without major renovations is a fresh coat of paint. Which brings me to my next example:

DIY: Painting and redecorating

Painting in your home is possibly one of the easiest renovation tasks you can do. If you have zero experience (or zero time), then yes, definitely call the pros. But if you have even a little of these – and/or a desire to learn – then this is something that almost any homeowner can handle.

RELATED POST: DIY Painting Tips To Save Time And Money

You’ll need to make sure you have the right tools (more on that in this post on DIY painting hacks), as well as block out enough time to get it done. I don’t even try to paint a room unless the girls are away. But in a day or two, you can give a room a whole new look – and be able to say with pride, “I did that!” when it’s done.

Call a pro: You smell natural gas

There will always be times when you need to call in the experts; smelling natural gas is one of these. Gas leaks can be costly, and not just in terms of money. If you smell gas, leave your home IMMEDIATELY and call the pros, so you don’t pay for this one with your life.

Maybe not necessary: The power goes out

Whether you live in a hurricane zone or a snow belt, most homeowners have had to deal with the occasional power outage. If you’re cooking dinner when this happens, and everyone is in the kitchen with you, it’s worth checking your electrical box before you panic and call in the pros. Whenever everything shuts down on me while I’m cooking, often times it’s just because I’ve overloaded a circuit. Flipping the circuit breaker (or in my old apartment, replacing the fuse) does the trick.

If, on the other hand, you notice that power is out across all zones of your house, take a peek outside to see if your neighbors’ lights are on. If not, then the problem probably extends well beyond your house. In that case, definitely call your electric utility’s service line and report the outage.

Bottom line: Yes, sometimes homeowners are best off calling in the pros. But other times, DIYing can save you time and money – IF you know what you’re doing. Knowing the difference between these two scenarios is key.

What about you? Which (if any) DIY home projects have you tackled yourself, or would you if they arose? Let us know in the comments!

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28 thoughts on “Should You DIY Or Call A Pro?”

  1. I’m pretty brave when it comes to DIY. My husband and I re-tiled the bathroom. I stop at things like plumbing and knocking down walls. Lol.

    1. I think with some more time (and no kids) I would definitely try a full bath retile – with little ones, though, I doubt I’d ever get the project complete once I started! LOL!

  2. My husband and I are all about the DIY life, haha. We did have someone come in and install windows and granite countertops for us, but everything else in our house we did ourselves. An Airbnb hostess I had in Paris was far more intense than us though. She did all the electrical work in her apartment herself, painted all her walls, and restored her hardwood floors all on her own. So impressive!

  3. I’m all for calling in the pros…. sorry. I tried DIY when we bought our home 25 years ago, and I learned quickly that it was not my forte. I admire anyone who is handy enough to DIY

  4. My parents are very into DIY but knew when to call a pro, too. It helps that my dad knows tons of people and could usually get the job done at a discount haha!

  5. This is so important to bring awareness to being responsible when it comes to home remodeling/quick fixes! Personally, I always try to call a pro when my husband can’t fix/do it!

    1. And sometimes our husbands CAN, but just don’t have the time! Now that my hubby is done teaching and grading for the semester, all sorts of projects are getting done around our house…

    1. Some of it is just time and practice – I’ve gotten a lot better over the years with each shelving project or closet redesign I attempt…

  6. I love doing DIY for my house but when it comes about renovation my father always take in charge. loving your suggestion for me this really gonna work.

  7. This are really great tips for when its necessary to call a pro. I just changed the water heater last month and regularly do upkeep and maintenance around the house. So I would tend to agree that some diy projects are able to do by yourself.

    1. Good for you for changing the water heater! My hubby would definitely attempt that (and most likely succeed just fine), but that is out of my realm of experience!

  8. We do a lot of DIY at our house, but my husband and his dad are very handy (mine too, but he lives in another state). We did call in pros to have gutters installed on the back of our house because we weren’t confident with that one. But when we closed on this house, I spent three days in here scrubbing and painting almost every room before we moved anything in. We’ve built quite a few pieces of our own furniture, but had a company come out to fix, texture, and paint the concrete on our back porch. As you said, sometimes it isn’t worth the hassle and extra time it would take us to do some things.

    1. Wow, only three days to paint the house? I am impressed! I have slowly been repainting many rooms in our house, one at a time, but we hired pros to do the ones I knew would be hard to get to after we moved in (master suite and my office) because I was less than a month from my due date when we moved into our current home. (NOT how we planned it lol…)

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