Buying and maintaining a home is a lot of work, but you are not expected to have all the answers. Mallory Micetich, a home care expert at Angi, answers some of the important questions many people are too embarrassed to ask.
One question experts get all the time is, “how do I know when to hire a pro and when to DIY?”
“As a person who likes to take on my own projects, try new things and DIY, I completely understand the appeal,” said Micetich. “When people ask me if it’s okay to take on a DIY project, I tell them to ask themselves about the three Ts – time, tools and talent. If you have all three, you can definitely get the job done right. If you’re lacking in any of these three things, like time or a particular tool needed for that job, it’s time to call in a pro.”
Think about the next home project on your list. Is it complex? Is it dangerous? Is there a risk for property damage? If you answered yes to any of these questions, it’s probably a good idea to bring in a pro to do the job right from the beginning. If your project is simple, you have relevant experience, and you’re okay with the chance it won’t be perfect, then give it a try! Making an expensive mistake can take the fun out of DIY, so do your research and know your risks before deciding to take it on yourself.
“When looking for service professionals in your area, you’ll probably come across the terms ‘insured,’ ‘bonded’ and ‘licensed.’ Ideally, you’re going to look for all three,” said Micetich. “Licenses are often held at a state or county level, so be sure to check there. Booking an insured contractor is a great way to protect yourself financially. An insured contractor holds a liability policy, which can protect homeowners from being held responsible for property damage made by the contractor. Always check with the contractor to make sure their policy covers the scope of your project, and ask for these three things before signing a contract and making your final hiring decision.”
Bonded contractors have an agreement with a bonding company that protects homeowners if their contractor fails to complete a job or can’t meet financial obligations. Some trades also require contractors to get licensed. To qualify for a license, contractors usually have to pass tests and submit proof of insurance and bonding. Make sure to do your own research to make sure your contractor is licensed, if desired.
“If you’re looking at buying a home this next year, you might be wondering if it makes sense to take on the project of a fixer-upper. A fixer-upper can be a great choice if it’s in the perfect
location or if it’s the only option within your budget,” said Micetich. “However, it’s important to understand what projects you’ll need to do in the first year – and what they might cost – before committing. Work closely with your home inspector to really understand the scope of projects. Even before you purchase, make sure you have the time and money to commit to fixing it up. Sometimes fixing up fixer-uppers is a long, multi-year process.”
Take a walk around your fixer-upper. Make a list of any changes or repairs you want to make. For each repair, write down if it is structural or cosmetic and if you intend to DIY or hire a
professional. This list will help you get organized and get a better understanding of the professionals you need to hire and the scope of the overall project.
Finally, Micetich says another common question she gets is, “how do I know if there is mold in my walls?” Especially if you live in a warm, humid or damp environment.
“The key to detecting mold is to know what mold looks like and smells like. It usually has a musty smell and causes irregular spots. Mold loves to live in damp places, so make sure to check basements, bathrooms, and behind walls and closets,” said Micetich. If you suspect there is mold in your home, but still aren’t sure where it’s coming from, try ordering a mold test or hiring a professional to find and get rid of it quickly.”