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When to DIY and when to hire a pro

Q: When does it make sense to take on efficiency projects myself, and when should I hire a pro?—Chari 

A: One reason to do it yourself (DIY) instead of hiring a contractor is if you’re convinced you can do a better job. This depends on the scope of the project and how knowledgeable you are about the work. You also may be unable to find a contractor who is available and reasonably priced, or need the work completed in a tight timeframe or during odd hours. 

Other considerations are if you’re sure you can save a lot of money and if you would enjoy doing the job yourself. 

On the flip side, there are good reasons to hire a contractor, such as if specialized equipment or materials are required. 

Safety issues also come into play—if the project involves working in an attic, for example, which presents a fall risk. The task may require expertise beyond your capability as a homeowner, like tuning a furnace. 

If you’re looking to save money, remember that doing it yourself sometimes saves little or no money. Some contractors may be able to install insulation cheaper than you can buy it, for example.

Do your homework 

As you consider whether to do the job yourself, be sure to research the tools and supplies you’ll need. Fortunately, there are amazing resources online. 

An example: when you search for “how to insulate an attic,” you’ll find fact sheets and video tutorials from contractors, home improvement shows, big box suppliers and material manufacturers. But be cautious: some of these videos are aimed at other experts and not DIY homeowners. 

Another benefit of doing the research upfront is that it will help you even if you decide to hire a contractor.

PAT KEEGAN and BRAD THIESSEN write on energy efficiency for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association

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