Contractors: Should You Hire One or Become Your Own?

art-wall-brush-painting-mediumIt’s no secret that a DIY project can be a lot of work. Whether you want to renovate a room, restyle your house, or tackle a different task, there is a lot of planning and attention to detail involved. Many people opt to hire a contractor, while others prefer to be their own contractor. Either way, you’ll want to know more about the process and how you can ensure a successful end result.

Hiring a Contractor

You’ve decided to hire a contractor for your upcoming project. The next step is to figure out how to successfully hire a contractor. While it’s possible to simply ask a friend or browse through your local listings, knowing helping hints and tips for hiring a contractor will put your mind at ease. There’s a lot to consider, from the contractor’s training and background to ensuring that the individual is properly insured. Things to look for when you’re hiring a contractor include:


Written estimates give you a better idea of just how much you should be spending on a project. The higher number of estimates you get during the hiring process, the easier it will be to determine who’s in line with your budget. Some contractors may give an enticingly low estimate, but a lower price might not guarantee a successful outcome. On the other hand, you also don’t want to pay a premium price for subpar work.


You probably asked for references before hiring a babysitter, and you should do the same when hiring a contractor. According to the Federal Trade Commission, a respectable contractor should be willing and able to provide the names, addresses, and phone numbers of at least three clients from similar projects. It’s a good idea to call the clients and ask basic questions such as any unexpected costs they ran into, how long the project took to complete, and whether they were satisfied with the end result.


A crucial part of hiring a contractor is ensuring that he has up to date insurance. The FTC states that all contractors should have personal liability, worker’s compensation, and property damage coverage. Before the project starts, ask the contractor for copies of insurance certificates. Verify that the certificates are up to date, otherwise you could be responsible for project-related injuries or damages.

Be Your Own Contractor

For the budget-conscious consumer (or a highly motivated person), an alternative is to be your own contractor. This is certainly possible, but it will take a bit of planning ahead of time. You’ll also want to consider whether you’re willing to shoulder the responsibilities that come with being your own contractor. Unless you have prior experience, you should avoid taking on projects that are too large or complex, such as putting on a new addition. It’s not unreasonable for contractors to add 20 to 30 percent to the cost of materials and labor as profit. If anything goes wrong, however, the responsibility will fall on your shoulders to correct and resolve the issue.

Whether you want to leave it up to the professionals by hiring a contractor or take on the challenge of being your own contractor, there’s a lot to consider. From price to experience, it’s a good idea to carefully think about the larger and smaller details. After all, you want an end result that not only looks great, but that also works with your budget and lifestyle demands.

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