3rd March 2017


So you enjoy being a DIY’er do ya? Good for you! Do your pocketbook and your relationship a favour. Know when to draw the line between when to use your index finger to pull the trigger on the drill and when to use it to dial a pro’s number.

This is something I always advise my clients when they ask how they can help to lessen the cost of their project or be involved in some manner. I don’t mind if they do either of the aforementioned items, however, I have some advice to consider. If you can’t afford to pay us to do the entire project but don’t want to sacrifice scope, that is perfectly ok. Consider how long will it take you to complete versus what a professional will charge you, then consider how much that time is worth to you. How much would you make at your day job in the time it would take you to complete the same scope of work on your “free time” (after work, on weekend, take holidays to complete)? Once you compound the value with quality of life and work-life balance as well as the level of ability required to achieve a professional finish (and try, to be honest with yourself here) – it may be a good idea to call a pro if you’re able to afford it.

However, that’s about where I would draw the line. Plumbing, electrical, HVAC and even acoustical, to a certain extent, should be handled by a professional on large-scale projects (ie finishing a floor of your house, basement, addition, or a large renovation). If you wanted to change out a light switch or extend a heat run, I would not object. Finishing a full and complete system likely isn’t a good idea if you don’t have the skills to complete it. There are too many things that can go wrong and areas for mistakes, especially if you want your project to be more than ‘good enough’.

A professional should use the most modern practices and use the most efficient materials. The hired professional will make suggestions how to make your plan even better or how to improve your finished product. If you consider all of the points listed above, it may actually cost less money to have a professional complete your job, and you’ll end up with a more professionally finished space.

Now I hear you, rolling your eyes, thinking “Typical, a professional suggesting I call a professional for everything, they just want my money!” Not at all, and please do not confuse this blog as a statement as such. On the flip side, if you love working with your hands and it’s an excuse to get away from the daily grind, you should consider doing it yourself. If it’s a hobby or a passion of yours, then you’ll likely enjoy the project. Please, in either case, consult a professional, commit to lots of reading, take your time and do it safely! If it’s a budget thing, see if you can work with your trusted contractor to assist you in completing your project with reduced risk, reduce the planned scope of the project, or put off your project until you can afford exactly what you want.

I get too many calls saying “My partner started a project and it’s taken five years, could you come finish it?’ or “We started our basement and we just aren’t able to finish it, think you could fix what we started?” and now we have to sand down the inch of mud and re-run circuits because they are overloaded and blowing breakers, the vent line for the toilet is run wrong so the shower gurgles. Worse yet, I hear “we hired a contractor and didn’t do our due diligence”. This can go a variety of ways, none in your favour; they have run off with your money and not completed your job, they got partially through your job and you realized they didn’t know what they were doing and you had to ask them to stop, or lastly, you tried to go under the radar without getting a permit and the city has shut you down. If you are going to do the project yourself, at the very least consult with a professional and get a permit. This will save you money in the long run.

On that ‘permit’ note, any good professional will tell you that you should get a permit for your project, especially if you are doing it yourself! Remember, although a permit could cause delays in a project but it ensures you and/or your contractor is held accountable and you are, within reason, assured that things are being done properly. There is value in that. This next point is very important. A building permit is the responsibility of the homeowner, NOT the contractor. Whether you are doing a project yourself or have a contractor working for you. Contractors can file them on the behalf of the client, but in the end, it is your responsibility as the homeowner. Inspectors might be lenient on you but still, require diligence and a professional level of compliance on areas under review. A permit is strongly encouraged!

At Phenom Construction we take this seriously and are always here to help and answer any questions you might have. If you have a project you’re considering and you’re unsure if you want to do it yourself or have a contractor come in, carefully consider some of the points above to help you make your decision. Good luck and talk soon!

1 thought on “CALL A PRO OR GIVE’IT A GO?”

  1. Daniel says:

    My wife and I are fans of a little home renovation, but even we have our limits. It’s been helpful to read your advice, but I especially like the part where you said that professionals should use the most modern practices and most efficient materials. I totally agree with that. In fact, I think it’s key to a successful project whether you’re doing it yourself OR hiring someone. It’s just as important for a DIYer as it is for a construction company to find a good supplier.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *