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Home improvements: DIY or hire a pro

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DIY home improvements can be exciting, stressful or may even feel like a chore if it’s a task you’re well versed in. Whatever your feelings on the do-it-yourself home improvement trend, it’s important to know which projects you can handle on your own and which are best left to the professionals.

There are tons of reasons homeowners try to tackle home projects instead of hiring a pro. One of the most common is the cost. You can save some serious cash by doing your own home reno projects, and you also get the sense of accomplishment that comes with it. Still, there are times when a DIYer just won’t do, and it’s important to know when to call in the professionals to do the job.

Deciding which home improvements to DIY

It’s a good idea to take stock of the situation and determine whether your project is something that you should DIY before heading to the hardware store to load up on tools. Making this decision doesn’t have to be complicated or stressful; it can be as simple as running through a checklist to see what makes sense. It’s important to weigh factors like safety, time investment and other factors to determine who should do the work.

Safety first

Safety is the number one issue in home construction and improvement, whether it’s done professionally or DIY. Before starting any home improvement project, always assess the risks involved and take whatever precautions are necessary to ensure that it can be completed without putting anyone’s health at risk. If you don’t have the means to assure your safety and the safety of others, then you should hire a professional.

Assess your skills

It’s nice to save money on home improvements by doing it yourself, but it can end up costing more than it would to hire a professional if you aren’t experienced enough to handle the project. Before committing to a project, research what skills are required to reasonably complete it and then assess yourself honestly to see if it makes sense to attempt it. If you don’t have the skills to do it, don’t do it. Hire someone who knows how to tackle the job instead.

Time investment

Hiring a professional can save a lot of time, although it will often cost more to do so. If you don’t have time to do the project yourself, hiring a professional may be your only choice. If you’re set on doing the project yourself, you should consider writing up a time budget so that you can find a way to allocate the hours needed to complete your home improvement tasks.

Factoring in costs

While you can save money by doing home improvement projects yourself, it doesn’t always end up being cheaper to DIY. Contractors can get deals on materials and often have the tools required for the job, which may be something you’re lacking. You may end up spending more to buy the tools and materials than you would on a contractor. If you already have the tools, skills, time and can get the materials for a reasonable price, it could be worth doing it yourself. Otherwise, it’s best to hire a professional who has connections in all the right places.

How to finance home improvements

Home improvements can get expensive, whether you’re doing it yourself or hiring a professional. Many people turn to loans to help them fund their home improvement costs, including:

Personal loans

Personal loans can be excellent ways to pay for home improvement projects because they have a quick turnaround from application to funding and are often offered with much higher limits than credit cards. They can be used how you see fit, and often have lower interest rates than credit cards, too. This type of loan would make sense for either DIYers or people hiring professionals, though if the project is large and requires major funding and a professional, you may need more than just a personal loan to get through.

Home equity loans

Home equity loans are available for homeowners who have built up equity in their homes. This type of lump-sum loan is offered in an amount equivalent to a percentage of the equity and is secured against your home, meaning that if you don’t pay, you could lose your house. This type of loan is best for homeowners who need access to larger amounts of cash for major renovations and know they can pay it back. Rates on this type of loan will vary based on your creditworthiness, overall financial picture and any other requirements your lender has.

Given the risks, it’s best to use a home equity loan to fund a professional doing the work. Your home is used to secure this type of loan, so why risk it with a DIY project large enough to require major funding like what you get from a home equity loan?

Home equity line of credit

HELOCs are similar to home equity loans but with one key difference: they act like a line of credit rather than a lump sum loan. If you qualify for a HELOC, you’ll be given access to a line of credit that amounts to a portion of the equity you’ve built in your home. You can draw from the HELOC multiple times and you’ll only be required to pay on the interest during the draw period. This type of funding is best for homeowners who aren’t sure the size of the project or the final amount of funding that they’ll need, but as with home equity loans, HELOCs are secured against your house, so make sure you can pay it back before you sign.

As with home equity loans, it’s probably best to use a HELOC to fund a professional doing the work. Your home is used to secure this type of loan, so why risk it with a DIY project large enough to require major funding like what you get from a home equity loan? Still, if you’re competent and want to tackle the project yourself, a HELOC could also work for a DIYer who isn’t sure what the total costs will be once the project is finished.

The bottom line

Home improvements are a normal component of homeownership and there are many ways to go about them. You’ll need to decide whether you are going to do it yourself or hire someone else for that task. That decision can be as simple as thoroughly evaluating your situation, provided you know what to look for.

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