Should You DIY or Hire a Pro?

DIY Bathroom renovation

When you’re planning a bathroom renovation, your skill level is one of the biggest factors deciding whether to DIY or call in pros. Even a simple enlargement of a room requires drywall and flooring skills most amateurs lack; installing a new shower or tub alcove also means plumbing and electrical changes, which should be handled by professionals to avoid serious mistakes that could lead to water damage, fire or electrocution.

Some projects, like adding a mirror or repainting walls or ceilings, are within the realm of most amateurs. But others require substantial expertise and experience, such as a major bathroom overhaul that involves moving or removing fixtures and rewiring. And because bathrooms involve wet, corrosive materials and work must be done in precise order (floor prep comes before putting down tile, for example), it’s especially important to plan carefully.

If you’re determined to go the DIY route, make sure you have a backup bathroom and plenty of plastic sheeting to contain dust. Plan to have your house out of commission for a few weeks or more, depending on the size of your project. And make sure you’ve got a contractor or skilled friends to help out if things get over your head. And don’t underestimate how long it will take you to complete the project: if you’re doing something big, like framing for a shower or tub, expect to be at the home improvement store constantly and save your receipts in case anything goes wrong and needs to be replaced.

To make the most of your budget, consider keeping some elements that are still in good condition. For example, a vanity can be made from a butcher table or a dresser found at an antique shop, with new hardware to add a modern touch. And you can use the existing flooring or paint to save money and still give your space a fresh look.

If you do decide to hire pros, be realistic about how much time you can spend on the project. A full remodel will require days or weeks of work, and your bathroom will be out of commission for that period. That’s why it’s best to limit your project to cosmetic or superficial changes, and leave any major reworking to the pros—particularly those with complex layouts or that involve plumbing or electrical upgrades. A contractor will be able to finish the project faster, and you’ll know it’s been professionally done. And that’s the best way to ensure a successful, stress-free bathroom remodel.