BestReviews is reader-supported and may earn an affiliate commission. Details
 
Menu
Blog
Beyond reviews, our team aims to provide you with useful, compelling, and fun how-to guides, gift ideas, and deep dives into trendy products consumers like you love. Here are our latest articles.
August 30, 2022  |  Home

Some think DIY home projects always save time and money; our home improvement expert weighs in

With home improvement and design shows becoming so popular, many homeowners have become more interested in trying their hand at do-it-yourself projects. The conventional wisdom is that you can save significant time and money if you tackle home improvement and repair projects around the house yourself rather than hiring a professional. 

Our home improvement expert, Beth Allen, a licensed contractor and founder of HIP Chicks, cautions that that’s not always the case. She advocates for homeowners to learn more about how their home works and to take a proactive role in its maintenance, all while knowing when it’s time to call in a pro.

Learn why DIY projects can be beneficial — as well as when it’s time to take a step back and ask for expert advice — to ensure you have a safe, comfortable and attractive home. 

Why DIY projects make sense

Take care of small everyday maintenance

While Allen doesn’t think the DIY route always saves time and money, she does believe it can pay off with everyday home maintenance tasks. In fact, it can be difficult to find a professional willing to do the work for small projects — and if they’re willing to show up, they may overcharge for the work. 

For example, if your garbage disposal won’t turn on, you might call for a plumber to come and take a look. However, if you know there’s a reset button on the underside of the motor that needs to be pressed for eight seconds to restart the disposal, you could save yourself time, money and aggravation. 

While these DIY projects don’t involve remodeling a room, they can make you a smarter homeowner. With DIY tasks, “It’s not always the execution of a project, but gaining knowledge of how your house works,” Allen explained. 

Increase your skills and knowledge

Learning how to make small repairs around your house and taking on less complicated remodeling projects can help you build skills and increase your confidence for DIY projects. This makes it easier to eventually take on larger projects in the future, such as installing a new floor or taking down a non-load-bearing wall. 

Doing homework before home improvement and maintenance projects can also make you savvier if you do have to hire a professional for certain tasks. If you better understand the steps involved in completing a project, a pro won’t be able to mislead or overcharge you for the work. 

Reduces wait time

If you don’t understand how things in your home work or how to handle simple remodeling projects, Allen warns you run the risk of being at the mercy of the pro who knows more than you do. 

Contractors, handypersons, plumbers and electricians often have long wait times, and many won’t find quick 15-minute repair projects worth it financially. Even if they do agree to the job, you’ll likely be a lower-priority service call, which means it may be days before they get around to it. 

Provides a sense of accomplishment

Allen recommends taking on DIY projects when you can because of the feeling of pride they offer. If you do some homework beforehand and do the work correctly, you can get great satisfaction from pulling off a successful job as well as saving yourself time and money. 

When to reconsider DIY projects

Expertise is required

While DIY projects can save you valuable time and money, Allen points out that there are tasks around the house that require a little more expertise than the average homeowner has. Trying to take on these more complicated projects can actually wind up being more expensive if you do them yourself. “If you’re doing a massive renovation and you don’t know what you’re doing, it can cost you more in the long run because you’re going to make mistakes,” Allen explained.

Projects involving electrical or plumbing work that is more advanced than fixing a clogged drain are definitely best left to experts. These tasks don’t leave much margin for error and can be dangerous if done by someone who doesn’t know what they’re doing. If you make a mistake when attempting them, you’ll have to hire a professional to fix them, which can get very expensive.

Special tools are required

Some home improvement and repair projects, such as installing a tile floor, require special tools to do the job. If you have to purchase or rent a bunch of complicated equipment you aren’t sure how to use, it can drive up the price and time needed to complete your DIY project. On the other hand, professionals already have specialized tools and equipment and know how to use them properly. 

Too much time is required

Some DIY projects may seem doable, but homeowners can underestimate how much time they’ll require. If you have to take time off from your job to finish a project, it may cost you more money than you realize. 

Even if you plan to do the work during your off-hours, it can eat into personal time you could spend with family and friends. It’s important to consider whether you’re really willing to sacrifice that time to save money. 

FAQ

Q. What DIY projects can save money? 

A. Painting, caulking your bathtub, replacing your front door, installing a first-floor window, putting down a wood or laminate floor and upgrading your insulation are projects that most DIYers can handle with the proper prep work, saving you significant money in the process. 

Q. What DIY projects are best left to professionals?

A. Electrical and complex plumbing jobs are best left to trained electricians and plumbers. In addition, installing a heating and air conditioning system, adding a skylight, repairing your roof and structural improvements should all be done by pros. 

What you need to buy for DIY projects and repairs

Home Improvement 1-2-3: Expert Advice from The Home Depot

Be prepared for over 300 DIY home improvement and repair projects with this comprehensive guidebook. It provides more than 100 illustrations, charts and graphs to make the steps clearer and offers tips and shortcuts to finish your projects. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Sperry Instruments Non-Contact Voltage Detector

This voltage detector and outlet tester make it easy to identify problems in your home’s electrical wiring so you can better explain the issue to a professional electrician. It includes a built-in flashlight and a bright visual indicator to alert you of the presence of voltage. 

Where to buy: Sold by Home Depot and Amazon

Dremel Multi-Max Oscillating DIY Tool Kit

This multipurpose oscillating tool can come in handy for various DIY projects around the house. It has a compact design that fits in tight spaces and an angled body that provides better control over the tool. It’s easy to change accessories with the twist of a knob.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon and Home Depot

Rectorseal T Plus 2 Pipe Thread Sealant

This nonhardening sealant creates a strong seal on threaded pipes when you have a leak. It works on galvanized steel, brass, iron, copper, aluminum, stainless steel, fiberglass, PVC and ABS pipe and can work for hot and cold water lines. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Newborn Drip-Free Smooth Hex Rod Cradle Caulking Gun

This caulk gun makes it easy to reseal your bathtub, shower and more. It prevents drips to minimize mess and doesn’t require as much force as guns with ratchet-style pressure rods. It features a padded handle and trigger for more comfortable operation. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Katfort Putty Knife 4-Pack

These knives can work well for applying spackle or scraping off paint. Their comfortable rubber handles provide excellent control for greater efficiency when working. They also have holes at the ends so you can hang them for easy storage. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon


Want to shop the best products at the best prices? Check out Daily Deals from BestReviews.

Sign up here to receive the BestReviews weekly newsletter for useful advice on new products and noteworthy deals. 

Jennifer Blair writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.