Nearly every homeowner has a streak of DIY spirit in them. Indeed, one of the joys of home ownership is making changes so your house better suits you and your family. For some, that might be as simple as painting the powder room.

But what about the bigger jobs? Sure, you might be able to rewire and install vintage brass sconces, but what about plumbing? Laying tile? Replacing windows? Installing insullation?

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When considering a major home-renovation project, the first choice you must make is whether to try your hand at it yourself or call in the pros. Every project is different. And it’s not just about money and time; it’s also about your tolerance for aggravation and unwelcome surprises. (What are those ant-like insects happily living inside your walls?) Here are examples of three common projects.

Privacy Fence

One of the easiest ways to make your home more enjoyable to you, your kids and dog – not to mention safer – is to build a privacy fence around the perimeter. Good fences make good neighbors, and good fences also increase home value. But is it worth it to do it yourself?

In terms of safety, there is nothing inherently dangerous for a construction novice in building a fence. It involves post hole digging, concrete mixing, the use of a nail gun and the ability to measure and level. But there are some complicating factors the DIYer could run into, including impenetrable rock layers underground, sloping issues in the yard and property disputes. The last can be solved by acquiring a land survey and discussing the project with your neighbors beforehand.

Angie’s List says that the average fence installation costs a little more than $4,500. This changes, of course, based on the size and scope of your fence, as well as materials. In the end, you can probably figure out the skills required to do it yourself. But it will take you significantly longer to finish the task compared to a professional fencing company that can oftentimes complete the job a single day.

Verdict: Lean towards DIY, unless the project is time-sensitive.

Kitchen Remodel

According to HomeAdvisor, the average cost to remodel a kitchen in Houston is between $12,159 and $28,093 and takes about five to six weeks to complete. There is at least a chance that, if you tackle it yourself, you could shave a little off that cost (labor, mostly). There’s an even better chance, however, that you will add weeks, if not months, to the timetable.

A kitchen remodel isn’t one singular project. It’s actually a series of projects – 10 or more in a large-scale remodel – all completed around the same time. It’s important to break these down when determining the entire project’s DIY-ability. Tasks like replacing floors and light fixtures are great DIY projects. If you’re gutting the kitchen for a total remodel, you can at least begin some of the demolition work yourself, too.

Where you may run into trouble is when you hit the plumbing and cabinetry. Both of these jobs are better left to professionals. And, depending on the scope of your project, you may need to pull permits.

Verdict: Some DIY and some professional work.

 

Expanding the Bathroom

So you want to create that luxurious master bath you’ve always dreamed of? In an existing house, this may mean you’re going to expand into adjacent spaces, such as closets, hallways and secondary bedrooms. This will involve knocking out some walls. Piece of cake, right?

Wrong. Not only are there structural issues – e.g. is this a load-bearing wall? – but walls contain electrical work, plumbing and ductwork. Unless you are a licensed plumber, electrician and HVAC specialist a bathroom expansion is better left to the pros … and you’ll likely need more than one by the time your project is finished.

Verdict: Bite the bullet and hire a pro.

The question of whether to DIY or hire the pros usually boils down to a few factors: How much money do I have to spend? What is my skill level? How quickly do I want the project completed? And, most importantly, Is it too dangerous for me to attempt alone?

And don’t forget that when it’s time to sell your house with all its fabulous new features, buyers will want to see that permits and inspections were properly done.