Home Repairs: Do It Yourself or Hire Help?

Spring is here, and so is the time to make all those home repairs you have been putting off all winter. But do you do the repairs yourself or hire a contractor? There are pros and cons to each option.

Minor repairs, like painting trim and getting a garden ready for planting, are easy. Money is usually a major factor in why homeowners choose doing it themselves over hiring a contractor. DIY home repairs can save you a bundle. And there’s a certain satisfaction that comes with completing a job by yourself that enhances the beauty or value of your home, as anyone who has ever spent a weekend painting a room knows well.

A common frustration of the DIYer is multiple trips to the hardware store because of failing to get the right product. Contractors eliminate this frustration and often get materials cheaper because they buy in bulk or have industry contacts. They also use professional-grade tools. While a homeowner may be able to rent these tools if need be, a contractor already has them.

Experience is another big factor in deciding whether or not to do a job yourself. Do you have the experience to get the job done, and done well? If you don’t, a contractor might be the way to go. If you do choose to hire a contractor, beware the rock-bottom bid. There may be a reason the contractor is offering to do the job for much less than the others you have spoken to—he or she might not plan to stick around to see if you are satisfied.

Make sure your contractor’s reputation is sterling by asking trusted friends or family members for recommendations, or use a source like Angieslist.com to vet your choices. Additionally, a contractor should be able to provide references and examples of similar jobs he or she has completed.

Another thing to consider is insurance. Contractors should carry insurance not only on their workers and themselves, but also on the quality of the job. (Check out this post from my fellow blogger Linda Rey on making sure your contractor carries insurance.) When you do it yourself, if the job goes wrong, it’s up to you to fix it. Many contractors offer guarantees on their work for six months or a year.

Time may be the best reason to choose to hire a contractor. Can you spend a weekend, a week, or even a month taking care of repairs yourself? Or will life interfere in the middle of the project, leaving you with an unfinished eyesore? If you do have the time, doing it yourself is a great option. If not, spring for a vetted, trustworthy contractor and sit back, relax, and enjoy the season.

See more stories on the Equifax Personal Finance Blog about how to get started on those Spring Cleaning jobs.


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