There are advantages and disadvantages to hiring a contractor to do a job versus doing it yourself. While many do it yourselfers seek to save money by attempting a project themselves, there are other factors that play into the decision to hire a contractor besides money. Additional factors include: experience, guarantees, contacts, and time.
There is no question that money is the biggest motivating factor to doing a project yourself versus hiring a professional. However, let us be clear as to what we are gaining or losing when we hire a contractor versus doing the job by ourselves.
Do It Yourself – Obviously, unless you’ve done a similar project before for someone else, the contractor wins hands down on experience. The only time when that isn’t true is when you have an unscrupulous contractor, which is why you must always ask for references.
Contractor – A good contractor should be able to tell you about other jobs that they did for other clients similar to yours and thus be able to verify the experience they bring with them to the job. This experience will save you money by doing the job right the first time. Should this not occur, the contractor is responsible for fixing the job at the cost he quoted you as long as there is no question the contractor or his workers were at fault.
Do It Yourself – You screw up the job, you have to re-do it. There is no guarantee for a do-it-yourselfer and people typically don’t take out insurance on themselves or the job. You get hurt on the job, that comes out of your health insurance costs.
Contractor – Contractors not only should carry insurance on their workers and themselves, but also on the quality of the job. For instance, a roofing contractor should guarantee the roof will not leak after the job for a set period of time and should return to patch any areas of trouble without paying additional monies, if the quality fails to live up to the work agreement.
Do It Yourself – Without working a long time in the construction industry, you won’t have many contacts when it comes to looking for the best price on materials.
Contractor – A contractor not only has good contacts for materials but also is buying labor at reduced prices too. They can steer you towards materials that are less costly but as effectively and aesthetically pleasing as higher priced options. They buy in bulk and at a discount, sometimes passing some of that to buyer if you pay cash.
Do It Yourself – Without the experience, a do it yourselfer is bound to take more time than a contractor to finish the same job. They do save money but at the expense of time. If the job is small and time is not an issue, then this can be justified as a decent trade.
Contractor – For larger jobs, the time factor becomes crucial. How long do you want your kitchen to be without a sink? How long will your neighbors stand the fact that your landscaping is like an Arizona desert? When a contractor quotes you a job, they also quote you a timeframe for the job. Keep that in mind when you are considering doing the job on your own. In this day and age when time is money, savings of time can equate to valuable savings not accounted by a strict cash balance approach.