Whom should I believe; I just saw this show on the DIY network (or maybe HGTV) that showed how easy it was to do this great makeover, which included tile floors… On the other hand, the sales person basically was laughing at me & telling me how hard it was and why we should have them install it. Help…
While I choose to use tile & many contractors’ favorite channels as our example, I could have just easily used numerous articles from the web, conversations with friends, other contractors, etc… Last month, our friendof posted a great article on this very topic, which he graciously allowed us to repost. So, with no further ado…
To DIY or not to DIY – that is the question
…A tweet went through my stream this morning asking the question: Should you install DIY solar panels? My immediate reply was: That depends on your technical skill level. That solicited a comment from a follower that DIY panels are not recommended. “Sealing / Optical clarity [sic.] / Serviceability / Time,” the follower said.
All are valid points. Jurisdictional restrictions not withstanding (I’ll get to those in just a second) none are reasons not to do the job yourself if – and only if – you have the technical expertise to do so. You should always buy the best quality equipment you can afford. Always. That’s true whether you’re talking about a coffee maker or solar panels.
That said, of course I’d prefer you hire me to do your installation for you. What contractor wouldn’t? But many will go further than that. They’ll go out of their way to make things sound as impossibly difficult as possible in the hope that you’ll feel like the process is so technically complex, so fraught with potential disaster, that you’ll feel like you have no choice but to either do without or hire a professional. Hopefully them. Building industry lobbyists have become absolute masters at taking advantage of our screwed up tort system to manipulate municipal fears of homeowners doing DIY projects. In some jurisdictions (like San Francisco, for instance), homeowners can do little more than paint their bedrooms and change light bulbs. For everything else, a licensed professional must be hired. And I mean that literally!
But America was founded by do it yourselfers. You want a house? You build it. Need a new septic system? You dig one. That independent spirit is near and dear to the American heart and it is a shame that it’s being increasingly trampled by excessive government regulation and unscrupulous marketers who play on fear to make a sale.
Hiring a professional to do the job for you isn’t the only option. Ethical professional contractors are usually quite willing to sell consulting time. By hiring a contractor as a consultant for your do it yourself project you get all the satisfaction that comes from getting your hands dirty on your own home, but you have professional backup if and when you need it. Or, you can do as much as you can yourself, and then have the professional come in to check your work and do the parts that are too technical. There are many options, and the contractors that would be worth your hiring in the first place are also the ones that will be more than willing to sit down and discuss DIY options with you.
Just keep in mind that no contractor is likely to let you work for them on your home. In most states, the laws and regulations and our lovely legal system make such an option virtually impossible. In fact, even if only providing consulting services your contractor may require you to sign a release of liability. The reason is, in some states contractors are in the same boat as doctors. If we provide you paid consulting services and something goes wrong, we can be found liable even though it was you who actually turned the screws. Finally, don’t expect the contractor to teach you how to do the job. If you don’t already posses the basic skills and technical knowledge, you really do need to just hire the contractor to do it for you. S/he’s there to check your work and consult on details and code requirements, not to teach you how to do every step.
That said, if you’re the handy sort, go ahead. Get your hands dirty. It’s the American way….
Quick thoughts & additional links…
First off, I would like to thank Michael for allowing us to repost his article here & encourage you, to visit his Should I hire a contractor or can I do it myself?”if you have not yet. Now, fortunately for most of us, we do not live or work in San Francisco where one’s ability to work on their properties is so limited. If you are considering trying your hand at a DIY project, we would recommend you check out our very first article we wrote on “
We would also encourage you to check out our new How To section, our area dedicated to Safety, and of course our maintenance articles for keeping your new spaces & the rest of your house looking great for many years to come. Of course, if you decide this is not for you, or maybe you are looking for a , we would love to hear from you.