DIY Home Improvement Reality Check


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Three questions to help you decide when to tackle renovations yourself and when to call a professional. 

At some point, every home needs renovation. Sometimes homeowners simply want an update, other times aging or damage requires a fix. Knowing when you can realistically DIY and when it’s better to hire a pro can save you money and stress. These three questions can help you make a wise choice.

Is it a structural or cosmetic project?
The first thing to evaluate is the nature of the project: is it structural or cosmetic?

Structural projects affect the integrity of a home. The mistake of taking out a loadbearing wall could cause floors to sag or even the collapse of the house. Changes to or removal of load bearing walls should only be done by a professional.

Cosmetic projects such as painting, installing molding and even tiling are things many DIYers can learn to do. Online resources like how-to articles and videos can show you how to prepare for the work and avoid mistakes—do your research before you dive in.  

Is the work subject to building codes?
While every municipality has its own rules about permits, these types of changes usually require a permit: changes to the plumbing, gas, electrical or HVAC systems; major structural changes or additions; decks; new openings for windows or doors; and changes to the foundation. And, once the work is complete, it will need to get the approval of an inspector.

Whenever a project requires a permit, it also requires specialized skills. If you have the know-how, skills, tools and time to do work that requires a permit, it can make sense to DIY. If you don’t, it’s best to hire a pro to do the specialized work.

Does it make sense to DIY part of the project and hire out the rest?
Some projects can be a hybrid of DIY and professional work. Light demolition, such as taking down cabinets and fixtures for a kitchen or bath remodel, can save money. Talk with your contractor to coordinate the work and get advice on doing demolition safely. In other cases, homeowners have contractors do all the structural work and DIY finish work like painting, installing molding and adding cabinet hardware.

Financing your project
Whether you DIY, hire a pro, opt for a hybrid or both, a Consumers home equity loan or home equity line of credit (HELOC) give you access to cash when you need it at a competitive rate. 

Consumers helps more than 2,000 members finance land, first and second homes, and home improvement projects each year. We’d love to help you with a mortgage or home equity line of credit; contact us online or call us at 800-991-2221.

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Consumers home loans

We’d love to help you with a mortgage or home equity line of credit.

Learn more.

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