Home remodel projects

8 min read

When looking at home remodel projects, it's important to consider the cost and scope of the job. A lot of times, homeowners will look to save some cost by doing part or all of the projects by themselves. That's a great way to stretch how far your cash goes, but there's something to be said for homeowners who are savvy enough to know when they have met their match.

That doesn't mean they aren't capable of doing these projects. It could be that they don't have enough time to complete the entire job, they aren't comfortable doing parts of a project, or maybe they'd just rather focus energy elsewhere.

We talked with Jon Schlect with Prairie Electric, a electrical contractor based in our hometown of Vancouver, Washington, to see what a professional has to say on the matter.

What we've found is, sometimes it just makes sense to hire a professional.

Doing it yourself might not actually save you in the long run

Jon said that Prairie Electric isn't really into hard selling their services so if someone thinks he or she may be able to do a project by himself or herself, Prairie will encourage the customer to try it. But the danger with that, he said, is that some projects can end up taking a lot of time and at the end of the day, that extra time is costing you.

Yes, doing something yourself will save on the labor costs of a professional, but don't forget that your time is valuable too.

Taking time to teach yourself how to do something new might not be worth your time investment. Think about the time you'll spend reading books, doing online research, and chatting up folks in your favorite big box home improvement store. And that's just your up front time investment.

I know I've started a lot of projects that end up including many "breaks" to go back to a how-to article or find a step-by-step guide on YouTube because I'm lost or something isn't working quite how I was expecting it to.

That additional time pushes out your project's completion date, especially when you're trying to get things done between your day job and personal life. If you're taking time off to work on a remodel project, that may mean you'll use more vacation time away to complete the job.

Not to mention, what if you don’t do it right or find you are unable to complete the project and have to hire a pro anyway. So while up front it may seem expensive to hire a pro, spending money to get it done quickly and right the first time could prove to be more valuable.

Professionals will be able to complete the job in a short period of time, at least compared to what an inexperienced DIYer can do. And best of all, you can spend your energy on other things while they're handling the job (or parts of it) for you.

Professionals do things by the book

Jon with Prairie Electric said homeowners can also get tied up in state and local code and working with inspectors.

Making a major change to your home (and any electrical change) will require that you get a permit. That's something the average homeowner might not know is necessary. If you make changes without a permit, you'll be in a pickle when you try to sell your home down the road.

Professionals also know the ins and outs of state and local codes.

That's where a lot of DIYers can get into trouble. Jon said that if you learn how to do something through a book or online research, you can get the job done but you still need to get your work past an inspector. If he or she says that it isn't done correctly, you'll have to go back and make those changes. That can be time intensive and expensive, especially if there are multiple trips.

Jon said that sometimes homeowners will call Prairie to fix jobs they did themselves that didn't pass inspection. More often than not, Prairie electricians just start the job from scratch because it's the quickest way to move forward. That can understandably be frustrating for a homeowner, he said.

Professional peace of mind

Some projects come with a bit of risk attached. Is your safety something you want to take into your own hands?

It's not that electric work is always a complex job, Jon said. It just can be scary -- and risky -- for a homeowner to fish wires into a live electric panel.

Hiring a good professional should give you peace of mind that the job was done correctly and there shouldn't be any unexpected problems in the future that could end up putting you or your home at risk. Plus, as Angie's List points out, using a highly rated professional will ensure that your job was done to code.

Like we said before, home remodel projects don't need to be all or nothing affairs. To get the best of both worlds, consider what projects you are comfortable doing and have the time to do and then tackle those yourself. If part of your remodel project is beyond your skill level or just too involved, hire a professional. That way you can focus your energy on things you can accomplish.

Want to know how to find a good contractor, electrician or other type of professional? Check back next week for our how-to guide.