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Home Sense

DIY or Hire a Pro? Six Questions to Ask Yourself

Who hasn’t watched a home improvement show and later decided to tackle their own project? TV personalities make it look so easy—and oftentimes also fun.

Unfortunately, things aren’t always so easy or fun in the real world. Plus, if you run into trouble, you might end up spending more than if you had hired a contractor in the first place.

So what should you decide-DIY or hire a pro? Start by honestly answering these six questions. Your answers should give you a good idea about your best course of action.

    1. Do I know what I’m doing—and will I enjoy it for the most part? These are perhaps the most crucial questions. If you’re not 100 percent sure you have the ability to pull off a project, consider calling a pro. The same applies if the work involves anything dangerous like electricity or natural gas lines. Also think twice about tackling any plumbing projects—while they’re usually not dangerous, a wrong move could cause an expensive leak.

    It’s not enough to simply know how to do the work. You also must like it at least somewhat. If you dread doing a project, there’s a good chance you’ll drag your feet or not do it at all.

    2. Do I have the right tools? If your project requires any tools that you do not have, can you borrow them for free? Or will you need to buy them? People often forget how much specialized tools can add to a project’s cost.

    3. How much time will a DIY project really take? It’s a good idea to calculate how much time it will take to complete the project. Consider how many hours per week you will work on the project and divide that by total time estimate. You might think twice about a DIY approach when you learn what the real time commitment is.

    4. Will this project require conformity to any building codes? Are you aware of your area’s building codes and permitting process? If so, are you sure you can complete your project in a way that conforms to them? If not, consider hiring a pro. Violating building codes can lead to fines. It can also devalue your home in the long run.

    5. Will I need any extra help? Think about whether you’ll need an extra hand with your project. If so, do you know someone who can help out? Then consider how much extra the added labor costs will add to the total project cost.

    6. Did I get a quote from a contractor or two? This might seem like a silly idea if you know you can do a project yourself. But sometimes a contractor can come in at or below your estimate. That’s because they already own all the tools to do the work. They can also typically buy supplies at a discount.

    Sometimes a mix of DIY and contracting out is the best option. You can save a lot by doing any preliminary demolition or cleanup work yourself.

Whether you DIY or hire a pro, it’s important to remember to report any home improvements or additions to your Erie Insurance Agent. He or she can make sure you have the right limit on your homeowners insurance so you could rebuild in the event of a total loss.

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ERIE® insurance products and services are provided by one or more of the following insurers: Erie Insurance Exchange, Erie Insurance Company, Erie Insurance Property & Casualty Company, Flagship City Insurance Company and Erie Family Life Insurance Company (home offices: Erie, Pennsylvania) or Erie Insurance Company of New York (home office: Rochester, New York).  The companies within the Erie Insurance Group are not licensed to operate in all states. Refer to the company licensure and states of operation information.


The insurance products and rates, if applicable, described in this blog are in effect as of July 2014 and may be changed at any time. 


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The insurance products and services described in this blog are not offered in all states.  ERIE life insurance and annuity products are not available in New York.  ERIE Medicare supplement products are not available in the District of Columbia, New York and Wisconsin.  ERIE long term care products are not available in the District of Columbia and New York. 


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