Home Improvement – DIY Or Contractor?

Home remodeling should be an opportunity to increase the value of your home with home – not a test of wills. But it can be an overwhelming task if you aren’t quite sure where to start or how to go about it. For some, home improvement simply means keeping up with daily home repair. Others like to tackle additions and major projects to keep growing the value of their home. Unless you are an experienced do-it-yourselfer you will probably opt to leave larger home improvements up to the professionals, by bringing in contractors to handle bathroom remodeling, kitchen remodeling, building a deck and many more dream home remodeling projects.

Will You Do-It-Yourself?

One of the first decisions a homeowner has to make on home improvement projects is whether to do-it-yourself or hire a professional or contractor. If your project includes structural changes, you may even want to hire an architect who specializes in home remodeling. If you decide the project is beyond your capabilities you will need to make sure you find a competent and reliable contractor. Selecting the right home improvement contractors or remodeling contractors is important.

Selecting A Home Improvement Contractor

Home improvement and repair and maintenance contractors often advertise in newspapers, the Yellow Pages, and on the radio and TV. However, don’t consider an ad an indication of the quality of a contractor’s work. Contractor references are a good idea when making your residential general contractor selection. These home improvement references can come from people they work with like sub-contractors and architects.

Ask how many projects like yours they have you completed in the last year. The contractor should be able to give you the names, addresses, and phone numbers of at least three clients who have projects similar to yours. Also, tell the contractor that you’d like to visit jobs in progress.

Is The Contractor Licensed?

If your state has licensing laws, ask to see the contractor’s license. Not all contractors operate within the law. Contractors should have personal liability, worker’s compensation, and property damage coverage. Avoid doing business with contractors who don’t carry the appropriate insurance.

One caveat: Just because there is no record of complaints against a particular contractor doesn’t necessarily mean there are no previous consumer problems.

Most states and localities require permits for building projects, even for simple jobs like decks. A competent contractor will get all the necessary permits before starting work on your project. Be suspicious if the contractor asks you to get the permit(s).

Be Careful Of The “Good Deals”

There are a few less than reputable contractors that you need to be aware of. They are the kind that offer you deals that are just too good to be true. Some of the warning signs are: they solicit door-to-door; offer discounts for finding other customers; just happen to have materials left over from a previous job; asks you to get the required building permits; does not have a listed business telephone number; offers exceptionally long guarantees; asks you to pay for the entire job up-front – in cash; suggests that you borrow money from a lender the contractor knows.

Financing Concerns

You have several payment options for most home improvement and maintenance and repair projects. Take care in selecting any financing options and don’t fall for any home improvement loan scam. You could end up losing your home.


Home remodeling can be a big step in improving both your environment and the value of your home. If you have a problem with your home improvement project, first try to resolve it with the contractor. Planning is an essential part of the building, additions and home improvement process. Plan well, select the proper materials and assistance and you will enjoy your improvements for years to come.

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