A quick primer on when—and when not—to DIY

By Mayra David  | January 29, 2015 - 1:59PM

It’s no secret that New Yorkers pay (actually, overpay) a ton to renovate their vertical city homes. No wonder, then, that apartment owners want to take on projects themselves whenever they can. While we generally applaud the DIY spirit—and whether you take on a project will depend largely on your talent, experience, and schedule—there are some jobs that are best left to the pros. Below, several design experts divulge when going solo is the best approach and when it's not:


"Many projects require larger or specialized tools. You can rent them, but if you’ve never used them before, you may not be happy with the outcome. Many times when you need these specialized tools, the actual cost may increase more than anticipated because of the learning curve and ruined materials. ... Hire pros when the consequences of making a mistake are high—i.e. water leaks, gas leaks, electrical shock, someone getting hurt—or when the cost of your time is high compared to the real time to complete. Most people underestimate the time it takes to complete a project." - David Przywara of contracting firm Crafted Home NY  

"Projects with higher short- and long-term impact, and greater risk for mistakes that are expensive to undo, are worth the added expense of hiring a professional. Bathroom tiling, kitchen counters, flooring, and anything happening behind walls or under floors can add significant value to your home and can also go terribly wrong. Don't sacrifice the future value of the project by skimping on the upfront quality of the work." - Jean Brownhill Lauer, founder and CEO of Sweeten, an online matchmaking service for homeowners and renovation experts

"The only job I would recommend homeowners handling without professional help would be painting, since this is one of the few items buildings would allow owners to tackle without licenses/insurance, since it's cosmetic, and you don't need experience, just perhaps a web tutorial. Jobs that homeowners try to tackle solo but never should include everything else." - Ben Pitt, a renovation consultant with My Home US
"Projects like installing shelving, building a bookcase, adding closet features, or painting are great options for renovators who are up for DIY because they have a relatively low impact on the function of a home in the short term, won't dramatically affect your home's future value, and run a pretty low risk of going off the rails." - Jean Brownhill Lauer, founder and CEO of Sweeten, an online matchmaking service for homeowners and renovation experts


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