So far in our Dos and Don’ts of DIY series, we’ve covered the concept of saying, “Honey, Don’t!” in any home renovation project, as well as smart shopping strategies and tips for the hands-on, down-and-dirty side of DIY.
This leaves us with one of the most important “Don’ts” of DIY:
Don’t – Tackle jobs way beyond your skill set, especially for any projects involving structural, electrical, or plumbing changes. Unless you know what you’re doing and have all the right tools, get a professional involved. You’ll still save money by handling other projects yourself, and it’s often cheaper to hire a contractor than it is to have someone repair any damage you might cause if you get in over your head.
Do – Get at least three estimates when you’re looking for a contractor. If you do need to hire professional help, be sure to get recommendations from friends or neighbors who have tackled similar projects. If they were pleased with the quality and price, chances are that you will be, too. You can also scan the yellow pages, conduct an internet search, or check with the Better Business Bureau, calling only contractors with an “A” rating.
Do – Make sure anyone you choose is licensed, insured, and bonded. All reputable contractors should be able to hand you a certificate of insurance when they give you a quote. If they don’t offer, ask.
Don’t – Take their word for it! Even if you do all your homework, you can still run into trouble on this point. Once, we encountered a contractor who actually took out an insurance policy so he could get a certificate of insurance. Then he promptly let the policy lapse. A quick call to the insurance company confirmed what we suspected: this guy couldn’t be trusted!
No doubt about it. DIY is challenging. But if you pay attention to the dos and don’ts, you can save money on just about any home improvement project. Just remember to write your “Honey, Don’t!” list when you plan your next DIY renovation. It’s equally as important as that long list of “Honey Dos.”