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Renovation Help: When to DIY or Hire a Pro

Updated: Apr 13, 2023

Renovating is a HUGE job. If you’re considering taking on the challenge of renovating your home yourself, please spend some time planning out the logistics of each project. This undertaking isn’t for the spontaneous homeowner, as many renovations are invasive and require a great deal of patience and skill. (*Also, please make sure you are in compliance with the safety building codes of your area!)

We’ve all seen beautifully remodeled homes. And we’ve all heard at least one renovation nightmare. You may be wondering if you are up for it, can you do it? YES, you CAN. Just plan for the unexpected. Things come up. Decisions need to be made, and then sometimes re-evaluated before install. Renovating can seem stressful, but it doesn’t have to be! With some planning, research, and asking for help when and where it’s needed, it can be a true joy, and the ROI (Return on Investment) will be huge! Many of my clients have said that I’ve taken the stress out of renovating, and actually made it fun.

Knowing your “lane to stay in” — what you are good at and what you may need help with – will make the process much more enjoyable, and in the end you will have a space in which you feel confident and joyful! So please don’t be scared to make your vision a reality. Although DIY comes with a bit more time and planning, it can be done correctly, beautifully, and at a low cost! However, there are certain tasks that should be left to the pros and understanding which ones is key in ensuring that your renovation runs smoothly. Below is a short list of areas to call in help and areas you may be able to DIY.

DIY Demolition and Clean Up

By rolling up your sleeves, renting a dumpster on cheap, and getting to it, you can tackle demo and clean up on your own! Here’s your plan for clean up (and for demo): repeatedly sing the song from Barney, “Clean up, Clean up! Everybody, Everywhere! Clean up, Clean up! Everybody do your share!” Just keep singing that song over and over, until your family relents and pitches in, so that you will PLEASE. STOP. SINGING. THAT. SONG. 😊 Then force ask your kids to pitch in – this can save a pretty penny!

Proceed to #demoday with caution. Demolition to kick-off a renovation project is more than just swinging hammers and knocking down walls (although it is part of the fun!). If you’re not careful, you can do more damage than good, causing harm to pipes or electrical wiring, so always make SURE you know where those are before you start destroying.

Opt for a dumpster with a back that opens so you can easily toss garbage bags into it. You will want to wear work gloves and closed toe shoes while doing this work – protect yourself and your loved ones from nails and other hazards!

Hattan’s Helpful Hint: If your cabinetry and other items (light fixtures for instance) can be removed in one piece, without too much damage, Habitat for Humanity’s Restore will often come pick these items up for FREE from your home!

Call a Pro Interior Designer

Before you make any final decisions regarding renovation plans, bring in a professional opinion to help steer you in the right direction. Firm remodeling decisions are permanent, so having an additional eye help you envision what these changes will look like and how they can fit in with your desired home aesthetic is a must.

Enlisting the help of an interior designer is a great way to avoid buyer’s remorse. A designer can help you choose flooring, tile, and paint colors from the vast array of choices that are out there, and in a way that is pleasing to the eye! There is nothing worse than looking at your finished kitchen and thinking, “hmmmm, something just doesn’t seem right…” and then realizing your backsplash is the wrong color/pattern/texture to go with your counter tops!

Designers can guide you in what furniture to purchase to best utilize the new space, and how to tie your home together with a beautiful and unified look. This is a smart addition and vital asset to your home remodeling process. It will give you the confidence in knowing the time and money you invest in your renovation will result in a beautiful, cohesive space.

DIY Interior Paint

Painting is absolutely a job for the DIYer! The trick is the preparation. Don’t be fooled into thinking adding a fresh coat to your home is as simple as getting paint and slapping it on with the first brush you find. Delve into the specifics of painting your home yourself, including the small interior painting tips and tricks you may neglect.

First, make sure your color is right for the space. It should “play well” with other colors and finishes in the room, such as flooring, furniture, draperies, and/or cabinetry. (see “Call in a Professional Designer” 😊)

Always sand down or patch holes and imperfections, and then clean your walls BEFORE putting any color or primer on your wall.

Use high-quality painter’s tape that won’t budge, lay down a thick sheet to catch drippings, and add another layer of tape to keep it all in place. This will prevent damage to your floors or carpets that will require clean up later on. Add a strip of tape to the top edge of the walls as well as trim along walls or columns to prevent paint from getting on your ceiling or trim work – many people skip this step. When choosing painting tools, opt for a thick roller to help speed up the process while achieving heavy and even coverage on your walls.

Hattan’s Helpful Hint for the novice: Generally speaking, use eggshell finish on most walls, flat on ceilings, and semi-gloss on trim or doors. Bathrooms will require a paint that withstands condensation, and cabinets will require a very hardy paint. Ask your paint store specialist what they recommend.

Call a Pro for Counter Tops

Have you always wanted to adorn your kitchen with gorgeous granite or quartz countertops? Updating your counters truly enhances the aesthetics of your house as well as provides durability for all of those delicious family meals to come! Did you know that a good quartz counter top has a hardness factor very close to diamond? (very durable!!)

However, if you’re going to spend the money on top-quality materials (granite alone will run you between $45 and $200 per square foot!) dish out the extra money to hire a professional to cut and install your counter tops. This will minimize hazards that may occur from working with a hard material as well as ensure the counter tops are stable and level.

DIY Hardware

Making small, cosmetic changes to your spaces are tasks that you can tackle yourself. Shop around for the best knobs and pulls for doors and drawers to accommodate your style, as well as a small screwdriver (and screws, if not included with your hardware!). You’ll be able to spruce up any area instantly without sacrificing too much time and money. If you want to save further, consider buying your hardware in bulk.

I bought new cabinet pulls for my own kitchen from Amazon, and my husband installed them in one morning!

Call a Pro for Plumbing

Anytime plumbing is involved, it’s generally a good idea to turn to the pros. Water is a basic necessity and you’ll want your home’s supply working efficiently at all times. If you are doing any of the following to your bathroom or kitchen, consider hiring a local plumbing pro for help:

  • If you are moving plumbing lines to accommodate your remodel/renovation

  • If you need to repair damaged pipes due to bursts

  • If you are replacing your toilet with a newer model

  • If you are updating or fixing your water heater

There are some small projects (e.g., installing a new faucet) that you can take on yourself if you’re not already experiencing strange leaks. However, if you do experience a persistent leak after your DIY attempt, strongly consider bringing in a plumber to rectify the issue.

Electrical – some DIY and some Pro

Just like plumbing, the same general rules apply to Electrical needs as well. If you need to move any electrical lines or run new ones, please seek professional help. You can probably change out a light fixture yourself, but for repairs or running new electrical lines, rely on pros. Nobody needs to get zapped or have their house burn down!

Renovation Help is just a computer click away!

I hope this article gave you some ideas for those of you who like to DIY. With any DIY project, I recommend researching information on how best to tackle the jobs at hand. You may learn more helpful hints to make the process better and faster. And for aesthetics and coordinating colors and finishes, consult your friendly Interior Designer (me).

I do recommend hiring a knowledgeable General Contractor for building additions, taking out walls, and other structural projects. Hiring an Architect is always a great investment. Here is a guide to help you know the added value, “8 Reasons to Hire an Architect for Your Residential Project.” For updates and renovations that you can tackle, I recommend hiring out the big ticket items that you really need done right. I would hate for you to end up with a water leak, or poor choices in hard finishes that you have to live with for the next 15 -20 years!

Willis Bathroom Remodel, Design Home by Hattan | Nashville

I specified flooring, vanity, lighting, tub, shower tile, faucets, mirrors, tub, paint colors, even the drapes and styling! This was a fun one!

Let Home by Hattan guide you in your next Nashville remodeling or renovation project! It’s what I love to do, and have had several years of experience doing! References and photos available upon request. Schedule your FREE Discovery Call today.

(Remember, Nashville’s Home by Hattan services include Design as well as Installation/Handyman services!)

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