When your wishlist exceeds your wallet, you have several options:
- Scale back your renovation plans, completing only top priority projects
- Focus on function and forego aesthetic upgrades (or vice versa)
- Put off the project until you save more
If you’re willing to sacrifice some time and put in the sweat equity, you might also consider a DIY kitchen renovation. Before starting a DIY project of this size, though, you should consider whether it will indeed reduce your kitchen remodel cost and if you have the skills to pull it off. In this article, you’ll learn the pros and cons of both professional and DIY approaches so you can commit to the best course of action.
The Pros of a Professional Kitchen Renovation Contractor:
When you hire a professional for your home and kitchen remodeling project, you’re paying for more than labor—you’re also paying for their insight and expertise. With experience comes knowledge, and the knowledge your home and kitchen contractor brings to the table could save you time and money or even save you from some common pitfalls. These are a few of the obvious and not-so-obvious benefits of hiring a professional.
Pro: Reliable results
A lot of DIY enthusiasts think with enough time and online tutorials, they can turn any Pinterest board into reality. Many learn the hard way, though, that their enthusiasm outpaces their skills. If you’ve never completed a kitchen renovation, you can hope for the best, but you can’t guarantee it. When you properly vet and hire a contractor, you can trust that the quality of work they do for you will match their past projects.
Pro: Rely on your wallet, not your willpower
While starting a new DIY project is fun, your momentum can slow or even screech to a halt once the initial excitement fades. Plenty of people line up for the chance to swing a sledgehammer, after all, yet lack enthusiasm for patching a wall or hauling debris. Even if you have all the skills to take on a large-scale remodeling project, consider whether you’ll want to stick it out three months from now. When you hire a professional, you won’t have to worry that your waning willpower might derail the project.
Pro: Gain access to professional networks and resources
Maybe you can count on a few friends to help you with demolition or cabinet installation in exchange for pizza and a few beers, but unpaid hands are rarely as skilled or reliable as paid ones. When you hire a general contractor to oversee your kitchen renovation, you won’t be able to pay them with beer and pizza. Still, you will hand over much of the stress and aggravation that would result from personally overseeing the project. An experienced GC will have a network of subcontractors that they know and trust to show up as scheduled and do quality work. You’ll also benefit from their insight and years of experience that can help fine-tune your design or identify alternate materials and manufacturers.
The Cons of a Professional Kitchen Renovation Contractor:
For many homeowners, the cost is the most prohibitive deterrent to hiring a professional contractor. While you can generally expect that a higher price tag will follow when you hire a pro, this isn’t the only drawback that makes some property-owners reconsider.
Con: Hello, Stranger
There’s no getting around it: whether you hire one professional or an entire crew, you’re going to have strangers in your house. Even the most easy-going and gracious homeowners will find the arrangement burdensome now and again. After all, when you or your child are sick and need to stay home, you naturally prefer a quiet home to one full of workers and noise.
Con: Higher costs
Hiring a professional comes with straightforward costs, as well as some ancillary expenses you may not have considered. If you have pets, how will they react to one or more strangers in the house every day? Can you safely keep your pets in a room away from the commotion without causing them undue stress? If not, you may need to consider boarding them each day until your renovations are complete. Small children or adults under your care may also need alternate arrangements.
Con: Contractor conflicts
While thankfully not the norm, tales of nightmare contractors and renovation disasters haunt the corners of the internet. Whether it’s a contractor going over budget, over schedule, or causing significant damage to the home, these accounts serve as a warning but are not a reflection of most professionals. Homeowners should take the time to research potential contractors for their renovation and get recommendations from friends and family. Your local hardware or home improvement store may also provide suggestions or guidance to help you hire the best contractor for your project.
The Pros of a DIY Kitchen Renovation:
Whether you’re planning a large or small kitchen remodel, the rule of thumb is to consult with an architect if your renovations require a permit or include structural modifications. When you’re giving your kitchen a facelift without changing its footprint, you may be able to take on the lion’s share of the work not only without an architect but without any contractors at all. Here are some of the situations where you can DIY your new kitchen, and the benefits of taking on the task yourself.
Pro: Save money
If you have the time, skills, and determination to carry it out, DIYing your kitchen renovation might make sense for you. Labor costs can amount to 30% of your total renovation budget when you hire professionals. If you don’t have the extra 30% to spend or want to put those funds toward upgraded appliances or the cost of kitchen cabinets, a DIY approach can be a smart choice.
Pro: Personal satisfaction
Saving money can be a positive side effect of many DIY home improvement projects, but it’s far from being the only advantage. Few things are more satisfying than reaching the end of a significant home renovation, but nothing compares to the pride you feel when you did it yourself. While the work may be difficult and time-consuming, it’s a labor of love. The sense of accomplishment you feel after seeing it through to the end (and the bragging rights that come with it) is well worth the effort.
Pro: More flexibility
While you might want to get through demolition as quickly as possible, there are benefits to slowing down and carefully dismantling your space. Demolition can bring about some unhappy surprises, such as termites, asbestos, or wiring problems; dismantling can help you uncover any hidden dangers while reducing the chance you’ll exacerbate them. It will also allow you to examine the materials you’re removing and salvage those you wish to reuse. While you can hire contractors to dismantle your space, doing it yourself will allow you to adapt and refine your renovation plans as you go, incorporating newly uncovered elements that you wish to refurbish or repurpose.
The Cons of a DIY Kitchen Renovation:
While some DIYers developed their skills through vocational training or work experience, others are self-trained and fall into the category of hobbyists. Make no mistake, home maintenance, repair, and renovation skills are valuable regardless of how you come to acquire them. However, before embarking on a DIY kitchen renovation, there are a few questions the self-taught should consider:
- If I do this wrong, could I damage my home?
- If I make a mistake, could it hurt or even kill me?
- Is a permit needed for the work I want to do?
Hobbyists who answer “yes” to even one of these questions may want to rethink their DIY approach.
Plenty of hobbies come with risks, but a greater or equal reward tends to offset those risks; skydivers jump out of planes for the freefall, not to save money on the landing gear. Here are some potential risks and downsides DIYers may want to consider.
Con: Lose money
While you may save in upfront labor costs when you tackle your kitchen remodel yourself, you could be racking up future costs without realizing it. You might also be jeopardizing your health and safety. Older homes may contain asbestos in drywall. flooring, or even in that popcorn ceiling you can’t wait to scrape away. The EPA recommends hiring a professional to remove asbestos-containing materials, and some state and local regulations mandate it. Still, some homeowners ignore these warnings and attempt asbestos abatement on their own, putting their health and the health of their families, pets, and neighbors at risk.
Con: Opportunity cost
Kitchen renovations can take anywhere from a few days or weeks for small projects to several months for custom kitchens and other substantial changes. Before you start a DIY renovation, you should consider what you’ll be giving up. Will you miss out on time with your family? Will you need to pass on work opportunities or visits with friends? When you calculate the DIY vs. pro contractor costs for your new kitchen, make sure you factor in the value of your time, so you understand what you’re saving as well as what you are potentially losing.
Con: You have the skills for your plans, but what about the things you CAN’T plan?
Many cosmetic upgrades are suitable DIY projects, such as refinishing cabinets, painting, adding a backsplash, or changing hardware and lighting fixtures. Even novices can successfully learn to install new flooring and garbage disposals. If you’re changing the layout of your space, making structural changes, or will be running new vents, electric, plumbing, or gas lines, a professional can better anticipate and plan for potential issues. Similarly, if you encounter rot or existing structural issues once you begin work, you should stop and consult with a professional to ensure you don’t exacerbate existing problems or inadvertently cause new ones.
Whether you’re working with a crew of family and friends or well-seasoned professionals, taking your new kitchen design from “dream” to “done” is a big job. You can turn to your local experts at HomCo Lumber and Hardware for advice and insight every step of the way. We have everything you need to get the job done, from new kitchen cabinets down to the work boots on your feet, and are proud to be Flagstaff’s one-stop-shop for all your home remodeling and renovation needs.