How to Tackle Your Upcoming Home Improvement Projects

Key points

  • DIY home improvements tend to cost less than those that are outsourced.
  • You’ll need to figure out if you have the skills and time to tackle home improvements yourself, though.
  • You should absolutely hire a contractor any time the work is dangerous or has the potential to cause damage to your home.

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At this point, we’re deep in the throes of spring, and that means many of us homeowners are busy tackling or mapping out home improvement projects. Any time you’re looking at a big job, you might ask yourself: Do I hire a contractor or attempt to do the work myself?

In most cases, going the DIY route will mean spending less money on your home improvement project. But sometimes, hiring a contractor makes more sense. To see which route to take for your next project, ask yourself these important questions.

1. Is the work dangerous to me or my home?

Painting your dining room is unlikely to cause you or your home any harm. But making changes to your home’s plumbing or electrical system is a different story. If the work involved is such that you risk hurting yourself or causing damage to your home (for example, a plumbing mishap could result in a major flood), then you’re better off hiring help.

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It’s one thing to go to the store for painting supplies. It’s another thing to have to rent a series of large tools you may or may not know how to use. If you lack the tools needed to get the job done, and you’re not very confident in your ability to pull off your next project, then it could just make more sense to bring in someone who already has the right tools and knowledge.

3. Do I have the time?

Maybe you’re looking to do a project that’s fairly straightforward, like painting your fence or replacing tiles in your master bathroom. The work itself might be pretty easy, and the risk of injury might be minimal. But if you don’t have time to complete the work, then you won’t be doing yourself any favors by tackling it yourself. 

Painting a fence, for example, could take a full day if you need to do multiple coats. And you also need the weather to be on your side. If you work full-time, you might run into issues if it happens to rain every weekend you’re free this spring. 

Similarly, re-tiling a bathroom could take hours. And if you don’t finish the job, you’ll have a half-finished bathroom floor, which probably isn’t ideal. 

How to finance your next home improvement project

Clearly, taking the DIY approach to home improvements doesn’t always make sense, so think carefully before making that call. And also, think carefully about how you’re going to finance your home improvement project. 

You could take out a home equity loan to pay for your project. And if you want more flexibility, a HELOC, or home equity line of credit, could be a better bet, since you’re not locked into borrowing a preset amount as you are with a home equity loan.

Both of these options, however, are secured loans that use your home as collateral. If you fail to repay a home equity loan or HELOC, you could eventually risk losing your home. So you may feel more comfortable taking out an unsecured personal loan instead.

Personal loans let you borrow money for any reason. As of the first quarter of 2023, personal loan balances across the U.S. came to $225 billion as per TransUnion, so clearly, they’re pretty popular. 

The upside of a personal loan is that you don’t have to put up a specific asset as collateral. But as a result, you might end up with a higher interest rate on the sum you borrow.

Either way, explore your options thoroughly before diving in. Consumer borrowing rates are up across the board these days, so it’s important to shop around and research your choices to ideally walk away with the best deal.

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