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Even if you’re a home-improvement novice, there are parts of a bath makeover you can do yourself. However, some tasks call for more experienced hands. Here’s how to decide when to DIY or hire a pro.
You can save a lot of money on a bath project by doing the work yourself — and gain a lot of confidence and satisfaction in the process. But if you get in over your head, you may end up spending more time and money than you thought and possibly have to hire someone else to straighten things out. That’s why it’s important to decide which parts of the job you can do yourself and which ones you should leave to a pro. There are several factors to consider.
It’s not just how big the bath is, but how much work is involved. A small powder room with just a sink and toilet may seem like an easy space to tackle, but if you need to replace both fixtures and redo the tile around them, that could be a big job. On the other hand, if you have a large bath that only needs cosmetic updates — paint, lighting, fabrics, and hardware — it might not take long to finish. Generally, the less plumbing and tile work involved, the more DYI-friendly the bath project.
If you’ve done a lot of DIY projects, you have a pretty good idea of your confidence and competence levels with different tools, materials, and techniques. If you’re a beginner, you’ll have to gauge your DIY aptitude and potential. Are comfortable with hand and power tools? Do you follow instructions well? Are you patient enough to do repetitive, sometimes monotonous tasks such as painting and tile setting? Will you get frustrated if things go wrong? Do you have people who can help you? Make an honest analysis of your DIY DNA.
You can save money by doing home improvements yourself, but the labor is not entirely free. No matter where you’re at in life, your time is valuable. So whether you’re taking off work or devoting evenings and weekends to your project, there are personal costs and sacrifices involved. How much is your time worth per hour? For larger and ongoing projects, you may have to take vacation days from work, give up sleep, miss some family activities, and put hobbies and regular household chores on hold until you finish. Weigh these costs against the price of paying a pro.
When you work with a bath contractor, labor and installation typically account for 25 to 50 percent of the total project costs. Clearly, supplying some or all of your own labor stretches your budget. But sticking to a tight budget doesn’t mean you’re stuck with doing everything yourself. If you break down your project into smaller parts and get estimates for each one, you may find you can afford to hire out one or more key tasks.
Even if you have a generous budget — enough to hire out your whole bath project — you still may want to do some of the work yourself. You may have a specific look in mind, want more control over the project timetable, or simply enjoy the challenge of making your own home improvements. A successful DIY project fosters feelings of pride and accomplishment you don’t get when someone else does the work.
In deciding whether to DIY or hire a pro, consider your expectations for the finished space. What level of quality will you be happy with? What imperfections or shortcomings can you live with?
For some bath elements, there’s not much difference between the results DIYers and professionals can achieve. For example, a toilet or bath faucet installed by a DIYer looks and works pretty much the same as one replaced by a contractor. With tile, though, there may be noticeable differences. A DIYer’s grout lines might not be as straight, clean, and uniform as a pro’s, and the edges and corners might not look as tidy. Will that bother you over time? Only you can decide.
As you decide which jobs to take on yourself, keep in mind that Lowe’s stores offer installation services for many of the bath products they sell, including sinks, faucets, vanities, shower and tub doors, and toilets. For more information, visit your local Lowe’s or Lowe's Installation Services.