I Can Fix That, But Should I?

Tax season is finally over, and if you were lucky enough to end up with a refund, you may be thinking about putting that money into a home improvement project or upgrade. Deciding whether you should hire a professional or handle the project yourself can be difficult. Each year over 100,000 people get in over their heads and end up injuring themselves on their DIY home improvement jobs. Depending on your skill-level and experience, some tasks may be unreasonable and dangerous to attempt on your own, but this is not always the case. Here’s how to decide: Stick to routine maintenance Seasonal home maintenance is ideal work for the weekend warrior because you can tackle these jobs when you have free time. Since these projects are routine, each time you complete them, your savings will add up. Mowing your own lawn, for example, can save you $50 or more a week (depending on costs in your neighborhood). Some other tasks that are not out of reach, even for the most modest DIY-er, include:

  • Snow removal
  • Trimming hedges
  • Washing windows
  • Sealing decks
  • Painting fences
  • Fertilizing lawns
  • Replacing air conditioner filters
  • Cleaning gutters

Be sure to use extreme caution when on a ladder washing windows or cleaning gutters. Every year, emergency rooms are filled with people with ladder injuries. A good rule of thumb is that unless you have skill and experience with heights, avoid any ladder taller than six feet. The same goes for operating power saws and attempting any major electrical work; if you don’t have the experience, it’s simply too risky. Become your own general contractor If you’re willing to put a bit of time into finding the right professionals for your project, you could act as your own general contractor. This means to hire, schedule, and pay the carpenters, plumbers, and other tradesmen yourself. This could save you 10% or 20% of the job cost (the contractors typical fee). This tactic works especially well if it’s a small job that only requires a few subcontractors. A great resource is Nothnagle Home Services. They can put you in touch with the highest-quality professionals Rochester has to offer. The best part is that each Home Services partner will provide you with an exclusive deal, only available to Nothnagle clients. Make contributions on big jobs Performing tasks that are labor-intensive but require relatively little skill are the perfect jobs to tackle yourself. Tearing out kitchen cabinets, pulling up old floors, daily site cleanup, and product assembly are examples of things you can do that can save you hundreds, even thousands, off construction costs. One thing to avoid is getting in the crew’s way. If you do, you could slow them down and end up dishing out more than you save. It is a good idea to make your contributions in the mornings before the workers arrive, or nights and weekends after they’ve left. Add finishing touches Many finishing touches are quite simple and DIY-friendly. For example, painting your own basement is easy enough, and could save you over $1000. If you have the patience and ability to learn a new skill, setting tile, laying flooring, painting walls, and installing trim are jobs that are not out-of-reach for you. Just remember that the results of your finish work are very visible. If you do not have the steady hand, sure eye, or patience for intricate tasks, you might be better off hiring a pro.

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