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Deciding when to DIY, and when to hire a professional

Renovations or repairs to your home can make it a nicer place to live and add resale value for the future. But when it comes to home improvement projects, the first decision to make is whether you should do it yourself or leave it to the professionals.

Mikael Anderson, Western Canada director of field services with Lowe’s Canada, says customers at the company’s Lowe’s and Rona stores tackle all sorts of home renovations, but preparation is key.

“Preparation can make the difference between a project that you fall in love with, versus a project that you actually end up regretting that you attempted,” he said.

Anderson says skills, materials and tools should all be considered when deciding whether a project should be DIY or “do not attempt.”

“Know your limits, know that you have to have the right tools, the right expertise, and understand what you’re doing, so the end result is something that you love,” he said.

“If a City inspector or an engineer are required for a project, chances are good that the home owner shouldn’t be touching it, because it puts everybody at risk.” – Brian Maurer, Renova Luxury Renovations CEO

He says store staff should be able to help with general advice on proper material and tool selection, while the store websites (lowes.ca and rona.ca) offer more information and videos with advice on common DIY projects.

Anderson says if you don’t have the right tools, you can often rent them at your local home improvement store.

Ultimately, if you decide that a project is too much to tackle, he says stores like Lowe’s can arrange for a professional contractor to do the job for you.

Brian Maurer, CEO of Renova Luxury Renovations, says people need to consider if it’s worth attempting a DIY renovation project when they might not get high-quality results.

Maurer says for any extensive home renovations, using an established company brings with it many benefits, from professional results, to a warranty and proper design planning for the project, so the work goes smoothly with minimum disruption.

He says most projects that involve wiring or gas lines should be left to the pros.

“If a City inspector or an engineer are required for a project, chances are good that the home owner shouldn’t be touching it, because it puts everybody at risk,” he said.

Maurer says he understands that some people make the decision to DIY simply to save money. “(But) I’ve worked in construction all my life, and there are still certain projects I wouldn’t take on even myself.”

The Canadian Home Builders’ Association has more advice on whether to DIY or hire a pro on its website, chba.ca.

DIY or “do not attempt”

Do It Yourself

  • Replace carpet with laminate flooring
  • Build a wooden fence with gate
  • Replace old kitchen cabinets with new ones
  • Repaint the interior of a home
  • Replace a bathroom toilet
  • Tile a front entryway floor
  • Install closet organizers

Do Not Attempt

  • Replace an old furnace
  • Wire your basement development
  • Replace electric stove with gas model
  • Re-shingle a house with steep roof
  • Install an on-demand hot water heater
  • Replace old asbestos insulation
  • Remove walls to “open up” a home

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