4 Questions to Ask Before Deciding to Do a Home Repair Yourself

Jene J. Long

Have home repairs on your radar? Here’s how to know whether to tackle them solo or hire a contractor.

As a homeowner, you’re probably well aware that your expenses extend well beyond your monthly mortgage payment, all the way to property taxes, insurance, maintenance, and repairs.

If you have a home repair to deal with, you may wonder whether to hire a contractor or do the work yourself. The upside of tackling that work solo is saving money — it generally costs less to do it yourself. But before you make that call, ask yourself these important questions.

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1. Is it safe?

You don’t want to compromise your well-being for a home repair. Before you decide to do the job yourself, ask whether that’s a safe move. If it involves, say, messing with wiring and you’re not a trained electrician, you’re probably better off calling in some help. Similarly, if the work involves perching atop a tall ladder to fix your roof, you may want to hire a professional who knows how to take the right precautions.

2. Is it time-consuming?

A leaky faucet may not take long to fix. But a major plumbing problem could take hours to address. Before you decide whether to tackle a home repair, estimate how long it will take you. Make sure you have enough time to complete the job. If you’re looking at a potential seven-hour task and your schedule only allows you a little time here and there, it could make more sense to bring someone in who can knock it out in a day. Otherwise, the issue could drag on until you can complete the repair little by little.

3. Do I have the right equipment?

Doing home repairs yourself is often more cost-effective — unless the job requires a lot of tools that you don’t have. While it’s possible to rent tools from a hardware store, make sure the cost isn’t too substantial. If it is, then you may be better off hiring someone who has the equipment to get the work done.

4. What’s the opportunity cost?

The time you spend dealing with a home repair is time you could spend doing something else. Think about what you’d give up to do that work. If you’re a self-employed tech consultant, for example, and you charge $80 an hour, tackling a three-hour repair could mean giving up $240 in income. If that’s the case, paying someone $120 to come in and do the work could be a better bet — especially if it’s work you’re not looking forward to in the first place.

When you own a home, repairs are inevitable. But as much as you may want to save money by handling them yourself, it’s important to make sure that’s the right choice for your situation.

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