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Home Improvement: DIY or Hire a Professional Contractor?

Few things are as satisfying as a successful DIY home improvement project. DIY affords you the flexibility to complete a project your way on your own time and can sometimes save you money. However, some jobs are better left to the professionals. A DIY project gone wrong can take you much longer to fix or complete compared to the pros and can end up costing you more in the end.

So which home projects are ideal for DIYers and which ones should you call in the experts? We lay out options for common home improvement areas.

A couple planning a DIY project for their kitchen.


Pros: Hardwood. If you wish for the timeless look of a maple, oak or cherry hardwood floor, you're better off paying a professional installer to handle the job. It's a significant monetary investment, and there are several things that can go wrong, especially if you live in an area that experiences humid seasons.

Real hardwood expands and contracts when exposed to humidity, so a flooring contractor will probably use a probe to determine the level of moisture in the subfloor. Installers also know how much space to leave between the planks and the walls to allow for expansion and prevent buckling. You might find that engineered hardwood is a better choice for you if high humidity is a problem.

DIY: Tiles. Want a floor makeover that's quick and inexpensive? Check out peel-and-stick vinyl tiles. They come in an array of patterns that look like wood, stone or even metal. Most are stain-, scratch- and water-resistant, and they can be laid down fast. If you prefer a soft place for your feet to land, go with peel-and-stick carpet tiles. Attached padding on the back helps to cushion your every step, and the fade- and stain-proof carpet fibers can usually stand up to heavy foot traffic.


Pros: Island. If the heart of your home could use an update, a kitchen island with all the fixings can do the trick. Many people want their island to be more than just extra counter space. If you want to add an extra prep sink, stovetop or built-in microwave, you'll want to make a call to the professionals.

DIY: Cabinets. No need to overhaul your kitchen to give it a new look and feel! A fresh paint color or gel stain finish can completely change a space, and it's usually less expensive than replacing all your cabinets. If that still seems like too much work, you can still update the look of your cabinetry with fun knobs or modern pulls. For more functional updates, add roll-out shelves or attach a slim rack on the inside of a cabinet door to hold pot lids.


Pros: Plumbing Fixtures. If your bathroom refresh involves relocating your toilet, moving your vanity, and sink or adding a second sink, it's best to call in the plumber and other pros. They'll make sure to focus on the function of the room by taking precise measurements, giving you a more realistic anticipated cost and recommending the correct materials to withstand humidity and other regular wear and tear. Plus, they'll help ensure any plumbing fixtures that move satisfy building codes for minimal spacing guidelines.

DIY: Hardware. If you're not doing a major overhaul, updating your faucet fixture can usually be done safely and effectively on your own. Turn off the water supply, unscrew the connections from your old faucet, screw in the new faucet and tighten with a wrench. Consider replacing your showerhead as well — much of the time, this won't even require you to turn off the water or use many tools.

Whether you try your hand at a DIY project or decide to call the professionals, reach out to your independent insurance agent before diving into significant home improvement jobs.

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