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Home Care & Ownership Tips
The Homeowners’ Dilemma: Do-It-Yourself or Pay for a Professional?

Not everyone was born with a green thumb or the mindset of an engineer. There are some of you that roll up your sleeves to try your hand at every repair or DIY project imaginable. Others of you may like to sit in awe in front of the home and garden channel, dreaming about what your home may look like but never ever getting out of your chair to do it. Then, there are those of you that do not mind getting your hands dirty but you are overwhelmed with work and just do not have the time. For others, whether they have the talent or not, they attempt maintenance and repair projects because they believe they are saving some money.

The trend has definitely grown toward DIY with so much information on the Internet and television, a big box home store like Home Depot and Lowe’s in every city, and a growing frustration with the lack of service and quality from supposed licensed contractors not to mention the need to pinch pennies in a tight economy. After all, it has been estimated that the labor portion of any project is the greatest, so you could save 25%-50% by doing it yourself.

Sitting on the Fence

The biggest concern is figuring out when to tackle a project and when a professional is really the wisest route to take. After all, it is not a bad thing to use your home as a guinea pig right? Well, it depends. The answer lies in carefully weighing the factors – time, money, degree of difficulty, and safety -- associated with the project. Some of you may freeze like a deer in the headlights and leave the maintenance or repair, hoping that it somehow just manages to fix itself.

While your home is most likely a wonderful place to live, it is not that talented to handle matters for you. It is your baby and you must take care of it. Otherwise, the longer you leave a problem, the bigger and more expensive it will get.

Asking the Tough Questions

Here are some questions to ask that may make the decision easier:

  • Have I ever done anything remotely related to this project before?
  • Do I actually like getting dirty and doing manual labor?
  • Can I or the family live and breathe the project, such as a kitchen remodel, if the DIY route is selected?
  • Do I know anyone that could help me if I am having trouble or cannot finish the project?
  • What kind of equipment do I need? Is it something that I should buy because I can use it again or should I rent it to save money since I’ll probably never use it again?
  • Are there safety issues involved in the project?
  • How much money am I saving versus the time and skill level involved?
  • Does it make more sense to hire a contractor who has a license, contract, skill, and access to wholesale materials?
  • How much time do I really have to work on this project?

Pondering These Helpful Hints

  • Seek and “ye shall find” all kinds of information that can help you decide if a project is right for you or how you can tackle it. There is an endless array of books at the library and book store or thousands of articles on the Internet that can provide you an instant source of knowledge on any maintenance, repair, or remodeling project.
  • Take classes at local colleges or workshops from any of the home improvement retail chains. Television and Internet shows also offer a lot of good advice that can help educate you and boost your confidence.
  • Do not tackle projects that involve electricity or natural gas and think twice about projects that involve sharp blades if you have never used certain types of equipment before. Some tasks are just too dangerous and not worth the risk.
  • If you are going to do a project that involves tools or equipment that you have never used before, practice with them or get a professional to show you.
  • Consider avoiding projects that could do further damage to your home, such as rewiring your home’s electricity, making structural changes, building a swimming pool, or changing your plumbing.
  • If you do not have the time to tackle weekly maintenance tasks due to work and have the financial security, it is a good to hire a gardener, cleaning service, or pool technician. Be sure to check around or get referrals from colleagues, friends, or neighbors to find someone who is reliable, honest, and fairly priced. They will assist you in helping to maintain the quality, reliability, and value of your investment.

Pursuing Good Advice

Whatever way you decide to go, stay calm and focused. While it can be intimidating to take on certain home projects yourself, patience, determination, effort, and a lot of research goes a long way. The more you learn and practice, the better you will get at what you put your hands to doing.

Do not try to rush through projects. When you are working on such a large investment as a house, it pays to put in the time and resources to make it that much more valuable. If you do take on larger projects, make sure that you educate yourself about permits that need to be pulled. Or, if you opt for a contractor to help you, do your research on that person or firm before hiring them and make sure that you get everything in writing.

Tracking All Home Maintenance Projects

Whether you do the maintenance, repairs, or remodeling yourself or you have hired someone, it is important to keep a record that will help track costs for tax purposes, provide proof when and if something that should have been fixed now does not work, and present a case study on why your home merits the re-sale price you are asking.

Companies, such as Ownersite Technologies, can give you an efficient solution by providing a user-friendly online mechanism for tracking, scheduling, and documenting all your home maintenance tasks. With a low-cost membership to their Web portal, you can upload pictures of your projects and maintain electronic files that contain information about each maintenance task, including the costs, receipts, and professional assistance you may have received. This online record is also an excellent means of measuring the viability of taking on future projects because all the costs are there to help you do the math on whether it pays to do it yourself or hire someone else to take on the project.

Ownersite Technologies is happy to offer a free 30-day trial of Home Ownersite, the comprehensive, web-based tool that simplifies home inventories and recordkeeping. With plans starting at only $29.95 per year, Home Ownersite is the perfect tool to manage the complete ownership lifecycle for your home and valuables. To start your free, no-obligation trial or to review the different plans available, please click here.

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