From outdoor living spaces to indoor sanctuaries, this time of year means a plethora of projects. But even for the most seasoned home improvement DIY-er, it sometimes makes sense to call in a professional for advice or assistance. Here’s what you need to know before hiring a contractor to bring your projects to fruition.

From outdoor living spaces to indoor sanctuaries, this time of year means a plethora of projects. But even for the most seasoned home improvement DIY-er, it sometimes makes sense to call in a professional for advice or assistance. Here’s what you need to know before hiring a contractor to bring your projects to fruition.


Do your homework


Don’t underestimate the power of thorough research.


“Homeowners must find out the real requirements for a quality job, and the consequences of doing things wrong, cost of repairing their mistakes and stress it may put on the family when it takes so long or it has to be done over,” recommends Bob Peterson, National Association of Home Builders chairman, who urges homeowners to avoid the surprise of losing home value because of a low-quality improvement job.


“Many professional remodelers will consult, for a fee, with homeowners desiring DIY,” he says. Consider this option when tackling something new or just outside your comfort zone.


Be realistic


“The biggest mistake homeowners make is thinking that remodeling can be done ‘cheaply,’” says Peterson. “They do not realize the complexity of the process and the value of having a very experienced, well-organized company do the work.”


Peterson says he hates to see homeowners suffer when they “get what they pay for” by selecting by price alone or choosing someone unlicensed or uninsured to do the job. The right contractor is licensed and insured, meets deadlines and offers a workmanship warranty.


Leave some things to the pros


In Peterson’s opinion, anything that can affect the value of your home should be left to the professionals. This includes “projects that deal with codes, energy or green, and frankly anything that’s close to requiring a building permit,” he advises.


That being said, there are certainly times when a homeowner is qualified to take on bigger projects, but the decision shouldn’t be made lightly.


“Many homeowners attempt tiling, flooring and such, only to find out that their lack of experience results in a defect, giving the manufacturer the out of blaming any issues on installation,” says Peterson. “Then who is responsible? The homeowner.”


Research again


Once you’ve made the decision to reach out to the pros on a particular project, the real work begins. The National Association of Home Builders advises creating a detailed list of professionals in your area. Confirm that they operate a permanent place of business with long-term ties to the community, carry a license and insurance, and have a trustworthy list of references.


After meeting with them, receiving estimates and checking references, you’ll have all you need to make an informed decision.