Do-it-Yourself vs. Hiring a Professional

Learn the pros and cons of a do-it-yourself kitchen or bath remodel.


Q: Our 20-year-old kitchen and bathrooms need overhauling. What is the cost of hiring a designer? And more important, what are the costs of not hiring one?

A: Home improvement projects, especially kitchen and bath remodels, can be expensive. But cutting corners can cost more down the road. So be honest with yourself: How skilled are you and what's best left in the hands of a professional?

"The cost of hiring a designer is relative to the time required for design development, product research, and coordination with the client, contractors, and outside consultants," says Heather Higgens, a New York-based designer. "After the first consultation, a seasoned designer should be able to provide an estimate for their design fee to complete your project."

Higgens also reminds homeowners that designers purchase materials at a discounted rate, which helps offset their fees. And that makes it less expensive in the end to get the polished look homeowners expect when they bring a designer on board. Tackling a project without a designer can be emotionally and financially risky. Designers not only help you hone the vision by showing you the latest trends and materials, but they also keep the project on schedule and on budget. If your DIY project goes awry, you'll have to live with those glaring mistakes every day until you can afford to hire a professional to fix it for you.

Still trust your DIY prowess? These resources can help you out along the way:

-- Designinabag.com delivers professionally coordinated design concepts including cabinet, countertop, tile, and paint samples -- right to your door based on your color palette and design preferences.

-- "From Sand Castles to Dream Houses: A Planner for Building or Remodeling Your Home" is a weekend warrior's guide to product selection, procedure, and contractor management. Author Sheri Koones shows how to stay organized, in charge, and on budget from start to finish. When it comes to home-improvement projects, it's hard to put a price tag on peace of mind and a good night's sleep. For a little extra cost, you'll be thrilled to have a designer in your corner.


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