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Unexpected home repairs will come up, but you don't have to be caught off-guard. This MasterKit will prime you to take on the project at hand. Whether it's fixing it yourself or calling in a professional, you'll learn how to diagnose the situation and respond accordingly.
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Home Repairs: Knowing When to Save (DIY) or Splurge (Hire a Pro)

Here's how to get the most bang for your home improvement buck.

Home repairs can be costly, so it's understandable that DIY enthusiasts like to bring the price tag down by doing the work themselves. However, for large, complicated jobs - or simply ones you don't have the time or inclination to do yourself - it's sometimes necessary to enlist the help of a handyman or contractor. Knowing who to choose depends on the scope of the project in question and whether the cost is ultimately worth the outcome.

The DIY Option
Homeowners today have certainly never been better equipped to DIY, thanks to the many home improvement stores, classes, online videos, and television networks that cater to the industry.

You can certainly save money by going the DIY route, especially if the job at hand requires minimal equipment, supplies, and professional know-how. Small projects, like re-caulking the tub or installing a new mailbox, are good examples of “honey-do” list items that you should be able to cost-effectively handle in a day or so, especially with the help of an experienced friend or a few YouTube videos.

However, there is one pricey component to DIY projects: tools. In the long run, you probably won't save that much money repainting your living room yourself if you have to buy drop cloths, brushes, pans, rollers and a ladder in addition to the paint. Calculate the expenses before taking on a DIY project that will require a pricey tool that you'll use only once.

Hiring a Handyman
Developing an ongoing relationship with a handyman (or woman) can seem like a luxury, but in the long run, it may keep your house in better repair for less money than you'd spend trying to do it all yourself. Typically, a handyman charges an hourly rate, plus the cost of materials and supplies. So, you can hire one to stain your wooden fence, replace a leaky faucet, and tackle basic carpentry projects all in one fell swoop, often for less than it would cost to hire different people to take care of each of those projects.

Because handymen are experienced and well-equipped, they can usually handle multiple projects in a day or two, and they may have access to bulk discounts on materials that a homeowner doesn't.

Pro Tip: Some handymen do mark up their materials costs, so don't commit to using his materials until you do a quick comparison with your nearby hardware store. Also, prep the work area before the handyman arrives - if you're replacing the cabinets, empty them yourself rather than paying your handyman to do it.

Specialty tools can strip the cost savings out of a DIY job. More ways to save money on home repairs:
Going the Contractor Route
If your project is big or complex enough to need a contractor rather than a general handyman, you have a different set of financial questions to consider. Some of the costs involved will be non-negotiable, including permits, fees, and inspections. What's required and how much it costs varies based on where you live, and it's mostly out of your contractor's control. The important thing is to make sure you know up front how these sorts of mandatory expenses will contribute to your out-of-pocket cost on the project.

As with a handyman, a contractor often has access to bulk discounts on supplies and materials, but it's still a good idea to cost-compare. And the bigger the job, the more critical it is to get three bids on the work, so you can compare what different contractors are charging and how long they estimate the job will take.

When to Save on Materials
No matter who completes your project, you're going to need materials. Fortunately, you can compare prices at various discount chains and websites to get the best value, either to provide materials for yourself, or to evaluate how much your handyman or contractor is marking up. Plus, most online outlets feature customer reviews, which can make it easy to spot a dud (or standout) product before you order.

Because a home is meant to be an investment, many people steer toward higher-quality, custom-grade materials, which tend to last longer than their lower-grade counterparts. However, if you're planning to sell your home in the next five years, it may not make financial sense to shell out more money for materials meant to last for 20. You certainly don't want to stick whoever buys your home with shoddy work - but you probably won't recoup the costs of premium over standard materials if you're selling soon.

You Get What You Pay For
Choosing whether to go with a pro and pay for pricier materials is a matter of personal preference and truly depends on the project in question. If you're looking for longevity, reliability, and a professional touch, however, it's smart to invest in better products and personnel. You might not save as much cash on the front end, but the overall investment will eventually pay off. Plus, you'll likely save a lot of time and effort, and who can put a price on that?
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