Hire the right contractor for your kitchen remodel

Pro or No for Kitchen Remodel?

As you prepare for your kitchen remodel, are you thinking that you could save money by doing some of the work yourself? After all, you watch HGTV and have seen how quick and easy it is to knock out walls and lay down a hardwood floor. Those make-over shows make everyone feel as if they’re only a couple of power tools away from being home renovation experts.

Not so fast and don’t be fooled. There’s a reason building and construction jobs are considered skilled labor. 

A DIY home improvement project can be a great way to save money, but if you can’t do it properly and correctly, it may cost you more in the long run.

Tackling a home renovation project requires more than an eye for design and the ability to match colors. You also need to understand how the various parts of a house fit together, and you may even have to do some math. What’s more, a home improvement project done wrong can be expensive to fix, or even dangerous. 

How do you know what parts of your kitchen remodel project you could take on? It depends on your experience, your available time and your willingness to make the effort and spend the money to do it right. Some remodeling projects are doable, with the right tools, knowledge, materials, and prep work.

When to Call the Professionals

1. You don’t know what you’re doing. Some people try to do projects when they don’t have the basic knowledge to understand the mechanics. Be honest with yourself about what you can handle. Just because there’s a YouTube video showing you how to do something doesn’t mean you have the skill required to complete the task safely and efficiently.

Don’t think everything will fall into place once you get further into the project, and don’t assume project instructions will make sense later. It’s important to know what you’re doing right from the start. You could get halfway through your project and find you can’t finish.

The same thing goes for tools, especially power tools. If you don’t know how to use something, you probably shouldn’t be using it.

If you’re honest with yourself and admit that you’re unsure about your ability to complete the job, choose caution over cost.

2. Someone knowledgeable advises you to hire a professional.  If you go to the hardware store and after explaining what you want to do, the workers tell you (politely, of course) that you’re crazy for attempting it, this should be a big red flag. And if the experts at the home improvement store tell you that your project will probably be a nightmare, give some serious consideration to their words.

However, don’t make your decision based exclusively on a contractor who tells you not to try a DIY project. After all, they want your business. 

3. Your time is limited.  Even if you are capable of finishing a home renovation project on your own, that doesn’t mean you should take it on. If your schedule is already filled with work and family obligations, how much time will you have to devote to the renovation? Will you want to live with your kitchen being torn up for weeks or months? 

If your answers are “not much” and “no,” call a pro. Hiring a professional will likely cost you more, but it will also probably get your project completed much faster.

4. It will be obvious you did it yourself. If your kitchen cabinets aren’t installed properly, it may be obvious to everyone who walks into the house. A botched job can affect the value of your home if you decide to sell it, even if you are ok with the results.

5. Major electrical or plumbing work is involved. Anything involving major electrical or plumbing work needs to done by professionals. Poor plumbing could lead to a messy situation and water damage that will end up costing more to fix than you would have paid to have the job done right in the first place. Electrical mistakes could lead to house fires, putting your family’s safety in jeopardy. That sort of risk isn’t worth saving a few bucks.

6. Mistakes Could Be Costly. If you’re not sure what you’re doing when you take on a DIY project, you risk having to call in a contractor to fix your mistakes. So instead of saving money by doing it yourself, you could end up paying twice for the same job.

7. It Could Hurt Your Home’s Value. Real estate agents warn that sloppy work is a “turn-off” for future buyers. Even the priciest backsplash tile looks cheap if it’s poorly installed.

8. Serious injury is possible if something goes wrong. Jobs that require technical know-how are jobs you want done by a contractor for safety reasons. Think twice about any project that could result in serious injury. According to an article by DoItYourself.com, about 170,000 people go to the hospital each year because of injuries related to ladders alone. 

When You Could Try DIY

1. Your project is small and you’re a fast learner. You can watch tutorial videos, read books and/or articles about the project and ask for advice. 

2. You have the patience to work through mistakes and setbacks. You may have to make extra trips to Home Depot because you didn’t buy the right thing you need the first time. Or you didn’t buy enough of something. Your DIY project most likely won’t be perfect on the first try, so be flexible enough to work through small errors.

3. Your project is more hobby than work. If you like carpentry, painting and other renovation-type activities, your DIY project can be enjoyable and bring you satisfaction when it’s complete. 

4. You’re OK with “good enough”. If your project doesn’t turn out as good as it would have if a professional did it, ask yourself if you can live with the results. 

You can save money on your kitchen remodel by doing the painting.

5. You need to cut costs. Even when you can’t DIY an entire job, you can often save money by doing parts of it yourself.

Demolition is one area, since it doesn’t require a professional’s skill to swing a sledgehammer.

You can also save money by doing the cleanup and other finishing touches, such as painting. That way you only need to pay the contractor for the parts of the job that really have to be done by an expert.


What’s the bottom line? Know your limits and know when to call in the professionals.

The choice between DIY and hiring a contractor is more than just a matter of dollars and cents. It’s a balance between money and a list of other factors: less hassle, faster results, safety, and professional-quality work. All these advantages explain why so many homeowners come down on the side of hiring a professional, despite the higher cost.

Sources used in this article and for further reading

KDP exists to offer insight and advice about all things related to kitchen remodeling. Our goal is to connect homeowners with talented, experienced kitchen designers who live and work in their communities. We are a serious resource for anyone preparing to remodel their kitchen so they can make the best possible choices about designers, contractors and products.