Hire It Out or Do it Yourself?

    With the growing popularity of do-it-yourself television programs and the increasing access to
    large home centers, you may be wondering if you should tackle your next bathroom or kitchen
    remodeling project.  You are probably expecting me to tell you not to do it but to leave it to the
    professionals.  Well, that's not necessarily the case.  A big reason I became a professional in the
    remodeling industry is that I started out by tackling my own kitchen and bath renovations.  
    Although, truth be told, I would have done many things differently on those projects had I known
    what I do now through years of experience.

    A kitchen or bath can be a substantial undertaking and you really need to evaluate whether or not
    you have it in you to undertake such a project.  Not only do you need to acquire certain skills but
    you need to have the time and energy to get the project done in a timely manner.  A kitchen
    remodel from a professional company can take 6 weeks or more.  Imagine if you are tackling it
    only on weekends and evenings after work.  

    One option is for you to act as your own general contractor, in which case, you won't actually be
    doing the work but you'll be hiring your own subcontractors in each trade and then managing the
    scheduling.  This can save you some money going this route but you are taking on all of the
    responsibility of making sure the job gets done and done right.  When you hire a general
    contractor, you only have to deal with him and he is responsible for all of the work that the trades
    do.  Of course, that service doesn't come free.  But paying for that service up front may pay off in
    the long run.  The general contractor is going to use subcontractors that he trusts.  He has
    already gone through bad ones and has found ones that do good work and are reliable.  Since
    the contractor provides the subcontractors with consistent work, he typically has more leverage
    against them than the average home owner.  

    But, truth be told, I have seen enough in the remodeling industry to know that there is no right
    answer to this question.  I know that if I were your general contractor or I was doing your
    installation then you'd be getting your money's worth.  But it seems there are as many poor quality
    tradesmen and shady contractors as there are good ones.  I've seen subcontractors, even ones
    that have licenses, that I wouldn't hire to do work in my garage let alone my kitchen.  I've seen
    general contractors that don't manage the job well and don't keep up good communication with
    the customer.  I've seen general contractors bring in subcontractors that I would never hire if it
    were my job.  So, unfortunately, there is a bit of a gamble hiring a company or subcontractor and
    no sure way to get around it.  And the old saying that says if you want it done right you need to do
    it yourself doesn't hold true if you don't know what you are doing.  Referrals are usually a good
    way to go when hiring a company or one of the trades.  But a company is only as good as its
    employees and subcontractors which can change often.  I'm sure there are companies that hired
    me to do an installation and have gotten a referral because the customer was happy with my
    work.  But that same company may have numerous complaints against them because they hired
    others that didn't do such a good job.   

    Of course, this problem is encountered in any industry.  Just because someone is a doctor
    doesn't mean he or she in a good doctor.  But it does seem like the construction industry attracts
    many people who have no business working in it.  This probably stems from the fact that the
    construction industry is a labor industry but people forget that it is an industry of skilled trades
    and these trades take years of experience and dedication to master.  So, there is no right or
    wrong answer to whether or not you should do a project yourself.  All I can do is give you some
    things to think about in making your decision.