Should You DIY?

Broken board-DIY

You want to make your home look AH-MAZ-ING before you put it on the market, to maximize your chances of attracting the right buyers and getting the highest possible price for your biggest asset – your home. How do you know which jobs you can tackle yourself, and which ones should be left to the professionals?

As professionals in this industry, we see many homeowners who decided to go the DIY route and later regretted it. Many said they had to call in a pro to correct to fix what they messed up. A lot said their DIY project ended up costing more money and/or took longer than they anticipated than if they’d just hired a professional in the first place.

Here’s how to determine if you should DIY or leave that project to the professionals:

Questions to ask before you start

Are You Physically Fit?

Many DIY projects are physically demanding and require strength beyond the average person’s fitness level. If the project leaves you exhausted and keeps you from your everyday activities, it might not be worth the potential cost savings. What about playing with your kids, spending time with your spouse, family obligations, regular household chores, and getting together with friends? Ask yourself, if tackling a DIY job leaves you too tired to work, how will that affect your other obligations?

Amateur Finishing vs Pro Finishing

One of the biggest differences between the work of professionals vs homeowners is the level of finish. DIY jobs are obvious to most people at first glance. Professional finishing will be significantly better than amateur work because they’ve done this a hundred times before and have learned the techniques that produce the best outcome. Even if you’re not planning on selling your home any time soon, are you prepared to live with the finish you somehow managed and be happy with, “I tried”?

Is the Job Reversible? 

Many jobs require technical skills and knowledge of the Building Code. DIY projects can often take a wrong turn, and the homeowner discovers that what they thought was a simple job is actually well beyond their capabilities. If something does go wrong, do you have the skills and know-how to be able to restore your home back to its original condition or have you just decreased your property value? Can you undo the changes you have made? If not, deciding to DIY it could be a highly risky venture.

 Is the job dangerous?

Some jobs are simply hazardous and can result in dangerous conditions. Do you have the safety training and required safety equipment to perform those jobs? If you end up injured, it’s definitely not a cost savings!

Do You Have the Technical Know-How?

The main reason people leave some jobs to the professionals is that they lack the technical know-how. Watching YouTube videos might be okay if you need to fix a clogged bathtub drain or replace a belt on your dryer, but it doesn’t equip you to install a back-flow prevention valve in your sewer line. Installing drywall or hardwood flooring, most plumbing and electrical work and anything structural requires special knowledge and equipment.

Are You Certain About Costs?

When planning a DIY project most homeowners incorrectly estimate the time required and costs of materials and tools. They don’t do this for a living so it is very easy for them to overlook the minute details of the job.  At the end of the project, many realize they could have hired a pro for the job, saved their time and energy, and ended up with a better result. Think about the work you do for a living. Could anyone step into your shoes and do your job as well and as efficiently as you do – without any training? The same is true for home repair, maintenance, and upgrades.



Here are some things you could do on your own and a few that you should leave to the professionals.

DO: Routine Maintenance Jobs

Seasonal landscaping, cleaning your gutters (depending on the height factor), and painting or repairing decks and fences are not terribly difficult jobs. Even if you aren’t sure how to clean your gutters or repair your deck, you can probably find a video on Youtube which will walk you through the job, and you are unlikely to destroy your property value in the process! In fact, online videos can walk you through a ton of small DIY tasks that you can do on your own.

DON’T: Cleaning windows or gutters on 2-storey homes.

Unless you have the proper safety equipment to prevent potentially fatal falls, leave this to the experts.

DO: Small plumbing jobs

If you have a toilet that needs to be replaced or you want to install a new faucet, you can probably do it by yourself with a little help from an online video or the advice of your local hardware store employees.

DON’T: Bigger plumbing jobs

Bigger plumbing jobs, like plumbing in a whole new bathroom, should be left to the professionals.

DO: Demolition

Upgrading your kitchen? If you want to rip out your old cabinets and have new ones installed, you can save yourself some money by tackling the demolition of the old ones yourself. The same is true for installing new countertops–the professionals should handle the installation, but you can start the process by ripping out the old in preparation for the new. Just be sure that you know what lies beneath whatever you’re removing, or you could wind up damaging your home in the process.

DON’T: Demolition of Walls

Like the open concept look? Make sure to have a professional at least assess the job before you demo a wall to see if there is electrical, HVAC or plumbing inside the walls that will need to be moved if the wall is removed. If the wall is load-bearing, a professional definitely needs to be the one in charge, as this requires specialized knowledge of building codes in order to determine whether and how the load can be redistributed. If the wall has no electrical, ventilation or plumbing inside it, and it’s not load-bearing, you can likely remove it yourself, but might have to call in a professional to fix the flooring and ceiling afterward, depending on your skill level.


At the end of the day, whether or not you should tackle a DIY job depends on your level of skill and expertise. If you have the knowledge and ability to do renovations yourself, go for it. However, if you don’t really know what you’re doing, you could wind up costing yourself more money by trying to DIY, and you may even have to call in a professional to fix your mistakes, which is often more costly than if you’d just hired them in the first place.

For more great tips and advice, visit our Prep n’ Sell blog.