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Do-it-yourself or hire a pro?

June 15, 2012
The Daily News

Many homeowners have home improvement projects planned for this summer.

It's part of being a homeowner, isn't it?

To help, the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI) shares advice before tackling that spring projects: namely, whether to do-it-yourself (DIY) or hire a professional during the busy remodeling season.

According to a consumer poll from, the largest determining factor for deciding to do-it-yourself or hire a professional was cost, at 40 percent.

Thirty percent of respondents placed project type and know-how as the second most important factor, and level of difficulty was close behind at 25 percent.

Safety and length of time required to complete the project were last, with 2 and 3 percent respectively.

"Some of the biggest homeowner misconceptions are related to the three largest considerations: cost, difficulty and know-how," says NARI National President Dean Herriges, MCR, CKBR, Urban Herriges & Sons Inc., based in Mukwonago, Wis.

"Many believe that if they do-it-yourself, the cost will be greatly reduced," Herriges said. "And most people also believe that the learning curve for home improvement is lower than it actually is."

In reality, the home improvement process-though varied across project type-can be very costly and involved for anyone, not to mention a beginner.

That's why it's important to weigh all considerations before you begin work to prevent a do-it-yourself disaster.

"There are a few basic questions that homeowners must consider before they start; otherwise, they will find themselves paying a professional even more money to fix multiple issues or, even worse, injured," Herriges said.

The most important considerations for homeowners have to do with physical ability, skills, time and understanding of what needs to be.

"Oftentimes, people underestimate height and physical limitations like lifting or controlling heavy objects, or whether the job requires more than one person," Herriges said. "When people attempt things that are beyond their ability, they open themselves up to injury."

Herriges said that homeowners should have basic skills when it comes to using tools or knowing which tools are necessary, measuring, installing and following product manufacturer instructions.

He also said that homeowners should plan the process from beginning to end to ensure they have time to complete.

"If you're working on a bathroom, you need to map out a good time for you to be without a bathroom and how long those critical steps will take so you know when you will have a bathroom again," he said.

And then homeowners should consider the costs.

Permits, materials, time and costs associated with correcting mistakes must be factored into the total cost.

"If you are doing the project yourself for financial reasons, you need to consider what it would take to correct mistakes that cause damage," Herriges said. "Fixing a project is usually more expensive than hiring a professional to do the project the first time through, so it's wise for homeowners to know what they are getting into and if the risk is worthwhile."

Most homeowners can handle routine maintenance projects and cosmetic touch-ups, but it's recommended they consult with qualified professionals for larger remodeling jobs and major changes to the home's structure.

If you find out that you do need to hire a professional, hiring someone who is qualified and competent to do the work is just as important as preventing a do-it-yourself disaster.

"You want to select someone that is certified or has professional experience working in the home improvement industry," Herriges said.

Moreover, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has passed new regulations to address a lead safety concern in homes built before 1978.

The Renovation, Repair and Painting (RRP) rule is designed to train professional remodelers how to minimize lead dust in the home to reduce exposure to children under 6 years and pregnant women.

Remodel-ready homeowners should make themselves aware of lead-safe practices in their homes during a remodel, either by a professional or as a do-it-yourself practitioner, to keep their families safe.

The National Association of the Remodeling Industry is a good source for homeowners seeking to hire a professional remodeling contractor because members are full-time, dedicated remodelers who follow a strict code of ethics that observes high standards of honesty, integrity and responsibility.

Visit the to get tips on how to hire a remodeling professional.



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