Know When to do it Yourself or Hire a Pro

May is National Home Remodeling Month. Whether you’re a professional contractor or a do-it-yourself homeowner, one thing is for certain – remodeling continues to grow in popularity.

According to the National Association of Home Builders, Americans spent $116 billion on home improvements in 2010. As our housing market slowly recovers, a spending increase to $131 billion is forecast for 2012. While it’s easy to see the growing trend to spend, it doesn’t answer the more important question: Should you do it yourself, or ask the pros for help?

Question: Is a DIY project cost effective?

Answer: Tackling improvement projects appeals to many homeowners. The perception that doing it yourself will save truckloads of money ranks as a top motivator. As you budget for your DIY project, don’t forget to calculate its true costs, including your time, energy and materials.

Tackling a large remodel yourself can mean taking excessive time off work to receive deliveries and to be onsite to coordinate subs and inspections. You’ll probably spend more time shopping and more money paying retail prices for a limited selection of materials, too.

Experienced contractors are efficient at scheduling. They provide quality supplies and installation, offer warranties on materials and labor and have access to wholesale showrooms that are off-limits to the general public. These professional perks can save you time and money in the long run.

Q: Do you have the DIY skills?

A: There are plenty of homeowners who have the skills and knowledge to complete basic improvement projects. But when it comes to significant remodeling work, it’s important to be realistic about your skill set.

Consider whether you have access to the appropriate tools and materials and a proper understanding of scheduling, building codes and inspections. You can easily hire and oversee professional subcontractors for those parts of a job that are out of your comfort zone.

The most important aspect of any DIY project is to admit when you’re in over your head. Tackling a difficult project that is beyond your skill set will cost you more time, money and frustration, especially when you have to pay a professional to fix your mistakes.

If you have the time and skills to commit to the entire process, and doing it yourself energizes instead of exhausts you, then DIY sounds right for you. Just do yourself a favor and be realistic about your available time, energy and knowledge level before you dive into the home improvement project.

To find inspiration for your DIY projects, or to explore professional contracting options, consider attending the free Remodeling Expo 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. May 14 at HighCraft Builders, 429 S. Howes St., Fort Collins.

Industry experts will provide workshops about interior design trends, remodeling return on investment, energy efficiency, outdoor living spaces and architectural transformations.

To view are column in the Coloradoan click here.