Traditional feminine white and pale blue kitchen with mullion doors and antique glass inserts, arabesque tile backsplash, mercury glass cabinet insert panels, decorative cabinet panel inserts

Guide to Kitchen & Bath Remodeling: Hire a Contractor or DIY

So, the monotony of quarantine has gotten the best of you. Upon hours of scrutiny, your kitchen, with that funky 90’s charm that you LOVED when you first bought your house, is starting to look a bit more drab than fab…

And just when you can’t look at your kitchen any longer, you fall down the rabbit hole of YouTube DIY projects. You think to yourself, ‘if these people can do it, why can’t I?’ And despite the numerous DIY fails you scroll past, you tell yourself that you are a smart, capable homeowner, and surely you wouldn’t make such rookie mistakes…

But let’s take a step back and ask ourselves, what’s really better? DIY or hiring a contractor?

Here at Studio M, we’ve seen this time and time again, and we definitely have some opinions about the wisdom and practicality of attempting to save money by doing it yourself. Education is the best policy, in our book. In today’s post, we are going to share 10 things you should consider before deciding to go rogue on your home improvement project.

Get out of that rabbit hole, put down the hand saw and let’s get started!

1. Experience

On tonight’s episode of, “Are you Smarter Than Your General Contractor?”….. The answer is probably not.

General contractors have continued education that gives them valuable knowledge on building codes, construction techniques, appropriate materials and project planning. So, even though you may have done some home improvement projects in the past, hiring a contractor will rid you of the headaches of doing it yourself and ensure that your project goes off without a hitch. With a trusted contractor on board, you should be able to achieve an amazing result while avoiding problems if anything unexpected should arise.

2. Construction Drawings

Construction drawings are far more complex than most people realize and, alas, that A+ in middle school art class will only get you so far.

If you are doing things like moving walls, changing a roofline or adding windows, your architect or general contractor will provide you with the construction drawings you need for your project. And if you are not using an architect, your general contractor will ensure that a professional draftsperson provides the necessary drawings.

3. Permits & Inspections

Doing renovations in your house is exciting, and doing things like picking out paint and cabinets is a blast! But obtaining permits and coordinating inspections is well…. less of a blast. Lucky for you, this is where a general contractor comes in handy.

Some projects, including major plumbing, electrical or structural overhauls, require that you obtain permits so that you are following appropriate codes and meeting your municipality’s minimum standards of safety. A licensed, experienced contractor will know exactly which permits need to be gathered and which codes should be followed, both for safety and in adherence to the laws in your area.

And when it comes to keeping your project on schedule, periodic inspections will need to be done prior to moving on to each next step in your project. Knowing what needs to be inspected, who to call, and how to schedule these inspections is a serious art form. Failure to do this properly can, at a minimum, slow your project down and can even involve costly tear-outs and rework. Like we said, less of a blast.

4. Insurance & Paperwork

Beautiful design magazines and HGTV highlight the glamour of renovating your space but often leave out the ‘not so glamourous’ details, like the importance of insurance and paperwork, in taking your project from the drawing board to the finish-line.

You need to be detail-oriented and well-organized to effectively manage all the necessary paperwork for your project. And if you aren’t up for the challenge, a general contractor can be an amazing benefactor in keeping your project running smoothly. Contractors are responsible for all the paperwork and accounting for your project. From obtaining certificates of insurance and invoices from subcontractors, to issuing 1099’s and ensuring that lien waivers are received, they will take care of it all, so you don’t have to.

5. Lien Rights

You may have heard horror stories about lien rights. But trust us, if you do things right, they aren’t as scary as you think.

Anyone doing work in your home can put a lien on your property if they are not paid by the party that hired them.  You could pay your subcontractor in full, but if they don’t use that money to pay their labor (assistants, plumbers, electricians, etc.) or material suppliers you will be responsible for paying them a second time.  Make sure you personally vet anyone doing work in your home and confirm that they are financially sound.  Many have been known to “Rob Peter to Pay Paul” and end up in trouble, then are able to file bankruptcy, and open a new business a week later and avoid all the hassle, while you are stuck in litigation and possible foreclosure on your home. 

6. Financing

A big problem with DIY is that many lenders will not recognize you as a general contractor without a license and proper experience. And because of that, they may be apprehensive about financing your project without a licensed general contractor involved. So, even if you have all of your ducks in a row, if you’re missing that license and experience, you may not get the money you need to fund your project.

7. Project Management

Trying to keep track of all the moving parts that go into your home project is like trying to solve a 1,000 piece puzzle. Doable, but time-consuming and difficult!

Fortunately, as a result of their experience, professional general contractors are masters of problem solving and able to coordinate all aspects of your desired project – relieving you of unnecessary stress. In addition to hiring the right people for the job, contractors are also able to manage all of the moving parts of your remodel while keeping everything on schedule.

Every construction project should have a clearly defined schedule, communicated to all parties. The general contractor knows how to manage people on a team – and your project will definitely involve a team!  There are many moving parts in a remodel project, often involving several subcontractors. And many times, one subcontractor cannot start working until another completes his or her work. While your general contractor strives to minimize schedule changes, if changes occur, the contractor will handle any subsequent “ripple effects.”

8. Trusted Relationships & Cost Savings

Your project is going to require a team of people. Make sure those people are ones you trust! A seasoned general contractor has subcontractors that are known and trusted and who accommodate the general contractor’s schedule. The subcontractors know that they will receive future work if they perform well, and the general contractor knows he can count on his or her subs.

9. Servicing

Picture this — you finally have your beautiful new kitchen and you go to make a celebratory cup of coffee. While pulling out your favorite mug, the cabinet door falls off its hinge…. What do you do now?

Lucky for you, if something fails under warranty or is defective, your general contractor is in a good position to support you in getting the problem addressed promptly. You may not have as much leverage on your own.

10. Time

Let’s ask ourselves the big question: Is the money you save as your own general contractor worth the time it will take you to do it yourself? There is certainly satisfaction in being able to execute your project on your own, but acting as your own general contractor will require a significant amount of time. Here are a few things that you may not have considered.

You need to make sure you have time to:

  • order parts or pieces
  • schedule deliveries
  • receive deliveries and inspect products
  • solve a problem that is outside your comfort zone
  • resolve problems between subcontractors

Whether you decide to DIY or hire a contractor, we hope we have given you some useful things to consider before you begin. If you would like to discuss your dream project with us, contact us!

Levi Armstrong says

I like that you said that I should hire a contractor if I’m planning to have my bathroom remodeled so I wouldn’t have to stress about solving construction problems or coordinate all aspects of the remodeling. My dad is planning to have our bathrooms remodeled soon because he wants to get rid of the space-consuming tub and replace it with walk-in showers. I’ll share this article with him so he’ll contact a reputable contractor, instead of hiring a handyman or doing it on his own. Thanks!

mingleteam says

Hi Levi,

You are absolutely right! Hiring a reputable contractor is one of the best decisions you can make for your remodel project. They manage the project, are true experts in construction and very knowledgeable when it comes to drawings and financing. All of which can seem overwhelming when you are trying to DIY. Thank you so much for reading our blog! We wish you and your dad the best of luck with your upcoming bathroom remodels and let us know if we can be of any assistance in cabinetry or design, and it would be our pleasure.

Have a great week!
MacKenzie @ Studio M Kitchen & Bath

Thomas Clarence says

It’s great that this article mentioned that general contractors are great about handling all aspects of a remodeling project. My wife was thinking that she could guide a remodeling project for our kitchen herself, but she doesn’t know where to get started. I think it would be a good idea for her to hire a general contractor so that we can get this project done properly.

mingleteam says

Hi Thomas,

Thank you for reading our blog and we’re certainly glad you agree 🙂 We wish you luck on convincing your wife, too! It’s always best when everyone is on the same page for a great, professional option and for something you don’t often do more than once in your lifetime: a remodel.

Have a wonderful weekend ahead!
MacKenzie @ Studio M Kitchen & Bath

6 Tips for Setting up a Temporary Kitchen | Studio M Kitchen & Bath says

[…] series, we have taken you through several topics on the kitchen and bath remodeling process such as hiring a contractor or DIYing, how to budget, and how to plan for your remodel. To wrap up this series, today we will describe […]

Dessie Heflin says

Wonderful idea and reflect the hiding things in front of our eyes. Please keep it up and share more.

How to Budget for a Kitchen Remodel says

[…] Even though you think you’re pretty handy, you will almost certainly be much better off hiring a contractor vs. doing it yourself. The money you spend on a qualified, experienced contractor can help keep your project on schedule and help prevent potentially costly mistakes. If you’re unsure about this, check out our blog 10 important things to consider before choosing to DIY. […]

Eve Mitchell says

I appreciate that you mentioned that a contractor can help save you from headaches. My husband and I want to finally finish our basement and we are hoping to do it asap. We definitely need to find a contractor to help us make the process a little bit easier.

Eliza Harding says

It helped me when you mentioned that an experienced and licensed contractor knows exactly which permits are needed to be gathered and which codes must be followed for safety and in adherence with the laws in your area. My husband shared with me last week that he wants to renovate our kitchen to change the design layout and asked me what would be the best option to do. I found this article very helpful and we will be sure to find a trusted and professional renovation contractor that can provide good quality service.

Anna Collins says

We just moved back into our grandmother’s old house, and we plan to remodel the place slowly, starting from the kitchen. I’m glad that you mentioned how remodeling projects involve obtaining permits for major plumbing, electrical, or structural overhauls, so a licensed contractor will be able to help gather the necessary permits for your project. I’ll be sure to keep this in mind while I look for a kitchen remodeling general contractor to hire for our house.

Jessie Holloway says

Thanks so much for explaining Lien Rights. My sister wants to redo her kitchen but is scarred to start because she’s heard so much about Lien Rights. I’ll keep in mind to look for contractors who are trustworthy and organized so my sister’s money gets to the people it needs to go to.

Taylor Abrams says

It helped me when you said that even though you may have previously completed some home repair tasks, hiring a contractor will spare you the hassles associated with performing it. My mother is investing in kitchen remodeling to enhance the space and designs it could have. I will certainly tell her to find a residential remodeling contractor who’s good at their job to avoid any future conflicts. Thank you for your article!

Olivia Smart says

Thank you for explaining how general contractors have the experience needed for this job. We were wondering if we should try doing it ourselves or hire someone to help us. It seems like it might be easier to hire someone, since they’ll have a lot of experience to pull from.

Jake Williams says

To renovate the bathroom in my house, I was debating whether or not to engage a remodeler. I discovered this website while searching for a solution. You made a good point when you said that a professional contractor would be licensed and insured to safeguard our property from damages during renovations and spare us from any hassles. I guess I’ll soon hire a remodeler, thanks to the great information. Thanks.

Jake Williams says

To manage the remodeling of my new home in Arizona, I’ve been contemplating whether to employ a professional remodeler.  I found this post while looking for a solution. It’s fantastic that you indicated that experienced and thoroughly qualified professional builders can complete remodeling work quickly and efficiently, giving us more time to concentrate on other elements of house moving. I’ll consider employing a house remodeler soon in light of this information, which appears reasonable. Thanks.

Jake Williams says

I’ve been trying to hire a remodeling contractor to renovate my bathroom, but I can’t seem to find the right one. I came across this site when searching for further details. It’s wonderful that you mentioned researching potential contractors’ reputations in the field and customer service ratings to ensure that they are capable and reputable workers. This seems like a smart idea, and I’ll keep that in mind when I start my search for a renovation contractor. Thanks.

Lily Bridgers says

I’m very glad you clarified that an experienced general contractor has reliable subcontractors who work around the main contractor’s timetable. My fiancé and I recently purchased a house, therefore I need to hire a remodeling contractor to make my dream designer kitchen. I wish to find a designer that embraces the characteristics you mentioned in your essay since this remodeling project is so important for us. 

Jake Williams says

Whether or not to engage a professional home remodeler to renovate the house is something I’ve been contemplating. I found this blog while searching for further information. The fact that professional remodelers would have received training in both the design and practical sides of remodeling is excellent, as it makes for truly beautiful remodeling projects. This information is useful, and I’ll probably consider hiring a house remodeler soon. Thanks.

Lily Bridgers says

Whether or not to engage a professional home remodeler to renovate the house is something I’ve been contemplating. I found this blog while searching for further information. The fact that professional remodelers would have received training in both the design and practical sides of remodeling is excellent, as it makes for truly beautiful remodeling projects. This information is useful, and I’ll probably consider hiring a house remodeler soon.

Kitchen Remodel Austin says

Thanks for sharing. This guide is really great and helpful for those who are trying to remodel their bath or kitchen and confuse in about hiring a contraction or DIY. The way you describe all the things are really great and I’m sure this will be helpful for others.

Eli Richardson says

It really helped when you described that some renovation projects might need to get a permit to get started. We’d like to renovate our house before summer arrives, and we have big plans about adding a pool and changing our bathrooms and kitchen, so we think it’d be wise to find a professional to help us. Thanks for the insight on remodeling projects and how to know if you’ll need a contractor by your side.

charles james says

Nice blog.

Elle Jones says

I appreciate that you suggested hiring a contractor if I wanted to rebuild my bathroom so I wouldn’t have to worry about fixing construction issues or organizing all the renovation details. My dad wants to replace the room-consuming tub in our bathrooms with walk-in showers, so he plans to rebuild them shortly. I’ll give him this post so he may get in touch with a dependable contractor rather than a handyman or do it himself. Thanks!

Elle Jones says

The fact that general contractors are excellent at managing all facets of a renovation job as described in this post is fantastic. My wife thought she could manage a kitchen remodeling job on her own, but she doesn’t know where to begin. In my opinion, she should employ a general contractor so that we can complete this project effectively.

Anonymous says

The article is very informative. It will help those who are trying to remodel their bath or kitchen and confuse about hiring a contraction or DIY.

James Robert says

A fantastic blog post. We sincerely appreciate your blog post.

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