Should I Do This On My Own?


Should I Do This On My Own?

With all kinds of DIY options around us it becomes easy, and attractive to consider undertaking home renovation, or even addition projects on our own.  Some of us are lucky enough to have the skills to plan, and execute a home renovation project, and have it turn out flawless.  Unfortunately not all of us can be renaissance people with a myriad of skills.  This article is intended to help you determine whether a DIY project is for you, and if it is best to start calling professionals to make sure your money and time is well spent.



First and foremost, it is critical when considering a DIY project that you think seriously about whether or not you have the experience to successfully execute the project.  There are plenty of people who are capable of completing a project from start to finish without the help of professionals, and that is great.  I would like to think that my opinion as an architect is helpful no matter how little involvement your project may need, but I completely understand the fulfilling nature of a project completed on your own.

For those of us who do not have years of successful home renovation, and construction projects under our belts, it is important to review what experience we do have.  If you are doing hoping to complete a bathroom renovation, and have experience with plumbing work, but not with installing finishes like tile or drywall, then it is important to understand that there is the risk of regretting your project upon completion without contacting the appropriate professionals.  Beyond aesthetic, and personal appreciation for the end result of any project, code compliance is important, not just to fulfill any local requirements, but for you and your family’s safety.  If you have any doubt about what constitutes code compliant construction it is definitely time to get reach out to your favorite architect to make sure that what you have imagined can be pursued.

If there are certain portions of a project you would like to do yourself for budget, or personal fulfillment reasons, any architect should be happy to accommodate this effort, with the understanding that we have all evaluated our capabilities before we get ahead of ourselves.


Home renovation projects are a large financial, and emotional undertaking, no mater what the scope, because at the end of the project you literally have to live with the result.  As these projects tend to be rather expensive, in the early planning stages many people find that if they buy the materials from their local home improvement store, and do all of the labor themselves (for free), then they can afford a larger project, or nicer finishes.  Although this is true, this may not always be in your best interest.  As the saying goes, you get what you pay for.  If you have limited experience with the trades required to complete your project, but find the low cost of doing all the work yourself too alluring, it may be time to take a step back from this project to rethink the priorities.

Try to imagine any home renovation project you may have in mind, then imagine you completed it on your own, and you are not happy with it as soon as you are done.  This is the worst case scenario, but if you did keep this in mind, it is entirely believable for any potential project.  Upon completion of a project like this it will be easy to feel disappointed in the investment you made, and begin to let your mind wander into “what-if land”.  Of course, there is also the unfortunate fact that you would have to live with this renovation everyday.

Now, I don’t mean to be all doom and gloom, I just want to make sure that you are well informed as to not be taken in by the glamour portrayed in every home improvement commercial where a project is completed perfectly, and all it took was a few trips to the store for materials.

When considering a project, and realizing how much more you can afford if you forgo utilizing professionals, please consider reaching out to one so that they can provide a second opinion on the matter.  Remember, planning for renovations is their life, while it may just be a once every 5 year occasion for you.


Taking on a project to complete on your own is a very fulfilling act.  With the right experience, and budget, it is possible to get the result you had in mind from the very beginning.  If it is a whole family event, and everyone comes away having had a great time, and feeling proud of their project, that is also a great success.  Of course, as I touched on earlier, if you are able to upgrade your finishes, or expand the size of your project thanks to the savings that were realized due to self-performing the work, this is always a win.

I could never deny that the intangible satisfaction you can receive from finishing a project with your own two hands is worth some potential pitfalls.  However, as a design professional, I always recommend you reach out to one of us to make sure that your project, your goals, your experience, and your budget are all in line to create a great product.  In the end, all architects want to see great architecture, even if it’s not their own.

Sticky Note Conclusion

Completing a project on your own can be both daunting, and fulfilling.  Knowing your capabilities, and keeping the goals of the project at the forefront of your mind will ensure that the project goes as well as possible.  Your projects deserve the best, whether you can provide that, or you a need a little help.  We, as architects, are here to be a resource for your projects, and to make sure that we all have the opportunity to surround ourselves with better architecture.

If you need help deciding whether or not to undertake a project on your own, please reach out, and tell us what you have in mind.

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