Thursday, April 26, 2012

Home Renovation / Improvement Projects: DIY Or Professional Contractor

Before you decide that your next home renovation / improvement project should be a do it yourself job, it’s important to consider all the pros and cons of either course of action. Whether or not you can do it yourself depends on a number of important factors.

Cost Benefits

Doing home renovation / improvement projects are always cheaper if you do them yourself, right? While that may be true in theory – after all, you save all the labor costs by DIY-ing your home improvement project – in actual practice your mileage may vary. Before you decide that money trumps a good job, evaluate your skills at doing the various tasks involved in pulling off your project. Your inexperience could lead you to overestimate the amount of supplies you need, costing you more money – or to waste a lot of resources because of poor planning or outright mistakes. And if you don’t have the professional tools you need to do a job properly, you’ll have to add the cost of buying or renting them to your project budget.

Quality Benefits

Unless you’re a professional or a dedicated hobbyist – or you manage to hire an incompetent contractor – you’ll almost always get higher quality work on your home renovation / improvement projects if you hire a pro to get it done. Professional contractors have access to tools and resources that you probably don’t have, which makes it easier for them to get a high quality results. The more experience you have in home renovation / improvement projects, the closer you’ll come to getting high quality work when you do it yourself. Of course, the best quality depends on getting the best, most professional contractors to handle your job.

Time Benefits

Contractors are notorious for not finishing a job on time – but the reality is that most local contractors and builders can do your home renovation / improvement projects faster than you can. On the other hand, doing it yourself means that you can get it done when you want to do it rather than having to wait until a contractor has time to fit your project in. And of course, there’s the fact that your time is valuable, too. Consider the things you won’t be able to do if you decide to invest your time in a complicated home improvement project.

The Fun Factor

None of those factors will matter if you’re one of those people who happen to enjoy doing home renovation / improvement projects yourself. If, when all is said and done, you’ll get more fun out of doing it yourself than you’ll get enjoyment out of using the finished project, then by all means – skip the contractor and dive right in to do it yourself.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Tips for Finding Contractors for Home Renovation / Improvement Projects

Spring tends to awaken the home improvement bug in many homeowners. There’s something about Mother Nature’s own home renovation projects – the budding trees, the awakening grass, the first few flowers – that makes people want to follow suit. While many homeowners want to dig in and get their own hands dirty, there are just as many who don’t have the time, skills or inclination to DIY their home renovation / improvement projects. If you’re in the latter category, these tips can help you find a solid, trustworthy contractor to carry out your home renovation / improvement projects in a professional, timely and affordable way.

Define the Scope of Your Project

Before you start hunting for a contractor, it’s important that you know what you want done. Defining the scope of your project will make it easier for contractors to give you an accurate estimate of the cost of your project – and it will help you avoid mission creep, the tendency for skilled workers to add in more work as the project gets underway.

Assemble a List of Prospects

There are many ways to find skilled trade and service professionals. You can check your local telephone listings, ask around to other homeowners who have had similar work done and get recommendations from local associations. In addition, there are a few online services you can use to find skilled professionals in your area. They include contractor directories and contractor bidding services.

Research Your Prospects

If your project is one that requires a licensed professional, check to make sure each contractor you’re considering has the required certifications. Check your local Better Business Bureau to find out if there have been any complaints lodged against the company or contractor. Read any reviews of the business or professional that you can find online. This can be especially easy if you’re finding a contractor through a service bidding site or contractor directory online.

Request a Bid On Your Job from Each Contractor

Don’t just hire someone who looks good on paper. Request a bid from each local contractor you’re considering. Many contractors – especially for larger home renovation jobs – will come out to assess the scope of the work and prepare a detailed bid at no cost to you. For smaller jobs, particularly electrical or plumbing repair jobs, some professional contractors will charge a small fee for coming out to evaluate the job and provide you with an estimate. In most cases, the contractor will deduct the fee from the final cost of your job if you choose them to do the work.

Consider All Factors in Making Your Final Choice

Don’t base your final decision solely on the estimate. Especially if you’re doing a large home renovation / improvement job, such as putting an addition on your house, you’ll be dealing with the contractor and his crew for a fairly lengthy period of time. Be sure that you’re comfortable with the workers and feel you can trust them to do the job properly.