3rd March 2017


When is it a DIY renovation or a professional’s job?

When it comes to home renovation, do you enjoy being a DIY’er? Good for you! But please 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.

What are the Benefits vs. Disadvantages

I always advise my clients of the pros and cons of a DIY home renovation vs. bringing in the professionals. Usually, they’re asking because they want to lower the cost of their project. I don’t mind if they do either of the aforementioned choices. 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.

However, that’s about where I would draw the line. Major home renovations like plumbing, electrical, and HVAC  should be handled by the professionals. On large-scale projects (ie. finishing a floor of your house, basement, addition, or a large interior renovation) you want things done right from the start. If you wanted to change out a light switch or extend a heat run, I would not object, but finishing a full and complete system isn’t a good idea if you don’t have the skills to complete it. There are too many things that can go wrong. Too many opportunities for mistakes. You want your project to be more than just “good enough.”

Why a professional contractor?

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 with 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. But 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.

Know Your Limits

Cartoon contractor home renovation

I get too many calls saying: “It’s been 5 years since my partner started our interior renovation, can you come finish it?’ or “We started our basement but we don’t have time anymore, think you can finish what we started?” Then Phenom comes in to pick up where things left off while trying to sort through all the pieces. 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. Contractors have run off with their client’s money and not completed the job. Your home renovation was only partially complete. Perhaps you realized your general contractor didn’t know what they were doing and had to ask them to stop. My personal favourite is when clients tried to fly under the radar without a permit, and were shut down by the city. If you are going to do the project yourself, at the very least consult a professional and get a permit. This will save you time and 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! Yes, a permit could cause delays in a project. But a home renovation permit protects you. It ensures you and/or your contractor are held accountable. And the permit makes sure you are, within reason, assured that things are being done properly. There is value in that. This next point is very important.

Remember, it’s on YOU!

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. Just remember, in the end, it is your responsibility as the homeowner. Inspectors might be lenient with 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.  Do you have a project you’re considering and you’re unsure if you want to do it yourself or have a contractor come in?Consider some of the points above to help you be informed and make your decision.

If you’d like our expert and professional help, give us a shout!

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.

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