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Remodeling Your Home? Here Are 5 Times to D.I.Y. and 5 Reasons to Hire a Professional

When can you do something cheaply and safely yourself, and when do you need to call an expert?


Morimoto residence

Photo: Courtesy of MCYIA


5 Times to D.I.Y.

Spencer Davis, owner of contracting company Davis Builders, recommends homeowners tackle cosmetic projects on their own, but make sure to research how to do them properly and safely beforehand. “I have seen plenty of D.I.Y. projects that had to be completely redone because proper prep work was not performed or improper materials were used,” he says.


Paint1. Painting

For small projects, like a wall or bedroom, you don’t need much in the way of tools or expertise. Painting the exterior, though, is a whole other beast.


Small-scale projects2. Small-Scale Projects

Add a backsplash in the kitchen or bathroom. Replace medicine cabinets or mirrors. Replace handles and hinges.


Lights3. Fans and Light Fixtures

Cool chandeliers, pendant lights and even bulbs in Mason jars can become the focal point of a room.


Flooring4. Flooring

Davis says that some types of flooring, such as hardwood and carpet, can be difficult, but “laminate, vinyl and tile are doable with the right tools.”


Landscaping5. Landscaping

Create a garden, put in gravel or stones, or build a small fence and gate. Keep landscaping 30 to 36 inches away from the house.




Evan Fujimoto
Photo: James Ramos Photography

“With doing things on your own, if you have the expertise, you have time and you’re gonna have fun doing it, go ahead and do it. I normally say it’s gotta be something you can do in a day or, at the most, on the weekend.”

Evan Fujimoto, president of Graham Builders and BIA Hawai‘i





5 Reasons to Hire a Pro

Even seemingly simple projects can end up costing way more than anticipated if you try to do them yourself without the knowledge and experience of a licensed contractor. “A licensed general contractor will also likely have a group of preferred subcontractors that they work with, which can shift the burden of finding multiple trades [people] on a project when necessary,” Davis says. Plus, many contractors offer warranties if something goes wrong. Here’s where you should leave it to the experts.


1. Structural changes

Such as new home construction, adding or removing walls, or other additions.


2. Utilities

You may need a permit to relocate, add or remove certain utilities. Electrical, plumbing or gas-related projects can be dangerous or risky to take on yourself.


3. Bathrooms

Davis says proper waterproofing, materials and prep work are extremely important around showers and tubs because, if done incorrectly, what seemed like a simple upgrade could cause thousands of dollars’ worth of damage.


4. Windows

As with bathrooms, having an expert install windows is important to avoid water leaks that could potentially cause more damage.


5. Kitchens

The less downtime the better, since you’ll likely need to use your kitchen every day, and turning off the water or electricity for long periods of time will cause inconvenience for everyone in your home. Plus, “a competent contractor can plan and coordinate the different [workers] to streamline the process,” Davis says.




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Honolulu Magazine May 2020
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