By Mary Sauer
For homeowners with backgrounds in construction or carpentry, using the skills learned in their profession to make improvements to their home is second nature. However, the world of online video tutorials and Pinterest projects has made it possible for homeowners without formal training to take on more challenging projects at home instead of picking up the phone and calling a handyman or booking a contractor.
At Modernize, we’re thrilled to provide homeowners with the resources they need to turn a house into a home. We love to see homeowners using what they have learned to get their hands dirty with home improvement projects, but we also prioritize the safety, legality, and financial considerations that come along with a do-it-yourself project. Not all projects are suited for beginner skills levels, even with the excellent resources available online. Depending on your circumstances, you may be better off hiring a professional instead of diving into your own fiber-cement siding installation project.
City Building Codes and Permit Requirements
One of the first factors you should consider before taking on a major home improvement is any building codes or permit requirements put in place by your city government. Most cities will require you to obtain a building permit before embarking on projects that will necessitate changes to the frame or the exterior of your home. In many cases, this means you will need to submit building plans along with an application for a building permit. If this is the case, working with a contractor can be invaluable since they have extensive experience navigating the permitting system in your city.
Specialty Skills and Tools Needed for Fiber Cement Siding
The installation of fiber cement siding differs from installing traditional wood or vinyl siding. Typically, this means you will need specialty tools and the skills necessary for operating these tools. If you have not previously worked with fiber cement siding, or the tools required for making precise cuts and finishing the siding, hiring a professional contractor may be a worthwhile investment. Licensed contractors are required to undergo a number of hours of training in order to work in your state, equipping them with the skills necessary to take on a wide variety of specialty home improvement projects.
Consider the Safety of the Project
Another important factor to consider before beginning a major home improvement project is the overall safety of the project. Siding installation is no easy task, and it often requires the use of scaffolding, ladders, and professional grade tools. If you’re installing the siding yourself, this means you will be responsible for the cost of fixing property damage if an unfortunate accident takes place while you are working on your home.
In comparison, general contractors should always carry general liability and workers’ compensation insurance. This places the liability on them instead of you. While installing siding isn’t the most dangerous home improvement project, there are definitely safety risks to consider that may make it worthwhile to hire a professional instead of taking on the project yourself.
Compare Costs and Evaluate Time Commitment
When it comes to saving money on home improvement projects, it’s easy to assume that do-it-yourself is always less expensive, but this is not always true. Contractors already have access to specialty tools, while you may need to buy or rent the equipment needed. Additionally, most contractors buy in bulk, allowing them to obtain the needed materials at a much lower cost compared to what you will spend at a retail home improvement store. Of course, you will definitely save on labor expenses if you decide to do it yourself, but the cost difference may not be as significant as you expect.
For many, the time commitment of taking on a major home improvement is an incredibly important consideration. Installing new siding on your home could take several days, requiring you to commit your entire weekend to the project and possibly use precious vacation time to take off work. Evaluate just how important the monetary savings is to you in comparison to the amount of time you will need to commit to the project.
If you have decided that hiring a contractor is the best choice for you and your home, we recommend interviewing several before making a hire. All contractors should be able to provide extensive references along with proof of licensure and insurance. When you thoroughly vet a contractor, you can rest assured that your home is in the capable and trustworthy hands.