Compound price

Do it yourself or call a professional: which one is right for your renovation?

A do-it-yourself renovation can be an economical way to refresh your home. For some projects, all it takes is a few YouTube videos to show you how to modernize your space.

But not all projects are suitable for home renovators. Your skill level, your budget, and the importance of the project to the value of your home can all be deciding factors in hiring a professional.

Here are some home improvement projects you can probably DIY, and ones that are best left to the experts.


Aminah Chung and her husband Bernard, who share their DIY projects on social media, updated the master bedroom and pantry in their Phoenix-area home and built a playhouse for their kids.

Starting in small spaces or trying simple changes, like paint or paneling on a wall, can help build confidence for larger rooms, says Aminah Chung.

With a little extra research, installing new floors can be a spare time project, says San Diego-based DIYer Liz Lovery. She and her husband, a former structural engineer, installed laminate flooring in their home.

“Things like that may seem overwhelming, but they’re not,” she says. “They’re very accessible, and it can actually save you a lot of money in the long run.”

Tools can be a big chunk of your DIY budget, says Chris Egner, president of the National Association of the Remodeling Industry. Add those costs to your budget and ask if the tools are worth the investment, he says.


Homeowners should consider their skills before committing to a full kitchen or bathroom remodel, Lovery says, because these spaces are often critical to the value of your home.

Some things, like painting the cabinets, can be handy. But if you need to install new cabinets and aren’t sure how to measure them accurately, Lovery says hiring a professional can help to get a quality finished product.

Hiring a contractor to remodel a kitchen or bathroom can cost tens of thousands of dollars, but Egner says his knowledge of building codes and best design practices can save you money because he will do the job properly.

A designer can show you several options for a new layout and predict potential problems, says Kevin Brown, design manager at Sunnyfields, a Baltimore-based kitchen and bathroom remodeling company.

The project can also be completed faster, Brown says, because a professional can coordinate electricians and plumbers, avoiding “a real nightmare” of potential delays if you do it yourself.

The Chungs have two kids and full-time jobs, so a DIY kitchen remodel would take a lot longer, says Aminah Chung.

“I think it’s important to do the projects you can do so you can save money for the projects you don’t necessarily want to do,” she says.


It’s best to let experts handle the systems that run your home, like electrical, plumbing and HVAC, says Egner. This job often involves permits and basic knowledge, and the cost of a misstep can be high.

“A simple mistake in the installation of a toilet or faucet could result in thousands and thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars in damages,” he says.

Lovery is ready to tear down the walls of her home, but she makes room in her budget to outsource some work, which saves her potential headaches later.

“When it comes to these niche jobs, it’s really nice to throw in the towel and hire these jobs,” she says.


If you’re still undecided, ask a contractor to write up an estimate and compare it with your DIY budget, Egner says. You can search for professionals on INRA website.

He also recommends adding about 10% to 20% to your budget for unforeseen expenses that are unavoidable with DIY and professional projects.

Cash is the interest-free way to pay for home improvement projects, but if you don’t have enough, shop around for the best financing.

Home equity loans and lines of credit offer low interest rates and long repayment terms, which keep monthly payments low, but can take anywhere from a few weeks to a month to be approved.

Personal loans have higher rates and shorter repayment terms, which means your monthly payments are higher, but the debt is often paid off sooner. With these loans, you can usually get funds in a week or less.


National Association of the Remodeling Industry: Finding a Renovator NARI

NerdWallet: How do home improvement loans work?