DIY or Asking for Help

Social media has changed our world and it will never be the same. There are countless platforms for people to share their interests, lives, family, and personal projects. It's fun to see what others have created and to watch their step-by-step videos about how to do the same project in your own home. And you have the time, so why wouldn't you try it? It looks so easy, after all.

Still... just because you can, does that also mean you should? Are you prepared for the process? There are any number of professionals out there to help you, but should you spend the money and what exactly do they do? Should you hire a designer, architect, or contractor? Or, should you just do it on your own? Hopefully, I can answer some of your questions so you can make the best decision for you and your family.

D.I.Y.

As most people know, DiY stands for "Do It Yourself" and is used when someone completes a project without the assistance of a professional. With the rise of social media, it has become very popular. Everyone wants to think they can save money by cutting out the professionals, but is that the best choice?

Sometimes, it is. Lots of projects are easy and fun tasks that anyone can do. As long as you have the right supplies and you follow the directions, there shouldn't be a problem. As for the more complicated projects, you still may want to do it yourself. Even if they don't end up looking as nice as you hoped, they have character and interest. Maybe it's a project you work on with your children or spouse, creating memories, or maybe it's a gift and the care you took on it matters more than anything. Those matter and impact how you look at the project. So, yes, sometimes it is appropriate to do it yourself. Other times though...

Let's put this into terms that many people understand. Cars used to be very simple to work on. My old VW Bug came with an owner's manual that explained how to fix things when they broke. It took very little training for me to learn about changing the oil or replacing the spark plugs. My current car, though? Forget it! It is way too complicated and requires special training to do pretty much anything to it. Yet, if I were to watch YouTube videos about the process, it can look incredibly simple. Emphasis on look. Most DiYers have more training than you realize. They may have learned from their parents or spent years honing their skills, but all you will see is the beautiful results and not the hours of labor it took to develop their talents.

So, how complicated is your project, really? Do you have the skills or training to accomplish

it? Is it just a question of painting a wall or are you painting cabinets? Are you hanging some shelves or hanging drywall? Are you helping your child redecorate their room or are you redoing your master bathroom? And, are things more complex than they look at first? Are you missing any important information about building regulations or how to safely use a particular tool?

There is a lot to think about. So before you decide to remodel your home yourself, let's take a look at the three main types of professionals that you may choose to consult before you try to do it yourself.

Designer

I've talked about it before but you can't be called a designer without some sort of formal training in the industry. For some of us old timers, that means we were helping set up the current interior design programs at the universities, so most of our training came from a combination of internships, college classes, and continuing education courses on information related to our field. Many of the associations we are a part of, be it ASID or NKBA, have regular seminars to teach us about the latest advances in technology or changes in the laws that govern our industry. As designers, we need to know not only what looks good and how to organize furniture, but also about the structure of the building, the psychological elements of design, and even how the surfaces in the room will conduct sound or hold heat.

Full-service design companies, like TLN Interiors, also have additional value. We can and do work with other professionals to ensure that your project is completed to the specifications we were given while following the laws. We are also capable of doing our own drafting and plan submittals so that you don't run into any complications with the state. Ultimately, though, we design and coordinate all the features and elements of the home or office to insure they will have a lasting and pleasing effect. This can include anything from color schemes to structural elements such as kitchen and bath designs. What sets us apart from other professionals is that our thoughts are firmly centered on how you will live in the space after it is complete. The design elements are not as important as their function in your life.

Architect

Architects are another professional you may be looking into. Building an addition to your house? Want to change roof-lines? Building from the ground up? Architects are who you want. The education process for an architect is much more laborious in terms of schooling than the other two, because their focus tends to be building from scratch. In a place like California, that means accounting for everything from earthquakes to OSHA regulations. Where the drawing of plans is an additional service for designers, it is the main service for architects. They determine where load-bearing walls will be, the number of steps it takes to get to the second floor, and the heights of the ceilings.

Just like with designers, many of the larger architectural firms will have all the connections you might want or need for your project. They will almost always have a structural engineer on staff, will have connections to or agreements with reliable contractors, and a designer or decorator on staff. The thing to remember is that the focus will be on the structure more than anything. That is their art form and any design will be sure to emphasize the structure of your home.

Contractor

Okay, this one is a bit trickier because there are people who call themselves contractors that aren't. What you need to remember about contractors is they are required by law to be licensed and carry insurance. This is to protect both you and them from anything that may go wrong. If they are not licensed, they are not a contractor you want to work with. The law won't, and often can't, protect you if you hire someone who doesn't have the correct paperwork.

Just like with designers and architects, contractors have to have an education. In order to get your license, you must pass the Contractor State License Board exam. Also, there are different types of contractors. Some specialize, which might be exactly what you need. You may be able to do a lot of the project yourself but choose to hire a tile contractor because you don't think you can do that part on your own. That is not unusual. Returning to my earlier analogy, there is a reason why you call a mechanic when there is something wrong with your transmission, even if you are fully capable of changing your own oil.

While designers focus on how you live in a space and architects focus on the structure of that space, contractors make that space for you. They are the ones doing the hard work to make sure that your new floor is level, that the cabinets have all their hardware in the correct place, and that the lights are hung precisely where they should. They make sure that the backsplash is grouted properly and the paint has gone on smoothly. They are an essential part of the process but rarely have the same training as architects or designers.

What next?

Whatever you decide to do, just remember that there is nothing wrong with asking for help. No one expects you to know everything or to be capable of completing home improvement projects yourself. Just know that we want you to be able to make the best decision for your project not only for value added to your home but to reflecting who you are. So feel free to call and speak with us if you are still not sure which might be the right fit for you.

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