Tips and Guides

RL Tips: To DIY or Hire a Pro?

Interior designer Wilmer Lopez gives tips on when it's best to do DIY and when to call the pros


DIY has its advantages and disadvantages. Much as we would like to save on costs, it's also important to ensure that our home is safe and built the way we want it. Interior designer Wilmer Lopez gives a couple of handy hints about choosing between going DIY all the way and hiring professional help.

Photographed by Ocs Alvarez / ACME Visual Productions.

Read the original article ("To DIY or Hire a Pro”) in the May 2012 issue of Real Living Magazine. Download your digital copy of Real Living on the Real Living App now! Log on to for more details. 

Take note of these tips:

What are the advantages of DIY renovation versus hiring a pro?

“It costs less to DIY compared to hiring a pro. You can [also] choose the type of materials [to] fit your style and budget, [unlike a] pro [who] usually recommends a specific brand or material. You can develop your skills and patience to make a home project enjoyable and the experience can be rewarding versus letting others do it for you.”

What are the disadvantages of DIY versus hiring a pro?

“DIY is more stressful and time-consuming, while hiring a pro saves you time and energy. [Moreover], professional help will definitely lessen errors as opposed to DIY, which is mostly trial and error, until you get the hang of things.”

How can I decide if I should go the DIY route or hire a pro?

“Look at your budget. If you can afford one, by all means hire a pro, [especially] if the task is really uncommon like installing countertops, installing lights, and others which require technical know-how. Check your schedule, too. If it will help you save time so you can deal with more important tasks, then hire a professional.” 

When hiring a designer, contractor, kitchen specialist, electrician, finishing carpenter, etc., how can I get  a good one even if I am on a budget?

“First, research his or her background [and find out] if his or her style is [similar to yours]. Explain what you need, [and] be honest with your budget so that he or she will have a clearer picture of the possibilities of design or renovation. Review their proposal and check if [it followed] your discussions. Check also the terms and work progress schedule. It is also important to keep communication lines open at all times so faster decisions can be made.”

Find out which projects are best left to the pros:

1. Repainting a room or the entire house

“If the space is small, then DIY is an option. Hire a professional if painting large-scale areas, especially for outdoors and waterproofing.” 

2. Repainting or refinishing a furniture piece

“Simple cracks or scratches can be DIY, [as well as] changing the color of a chair, which could be a fun weekend task. But for special finishes, a pro is a must.”

3. Changing a ceiling

“If minor work is needed, a good carpenter [can fix it]. Otherwise, hire a contractor or foreman.” 

4. Changing simple flooring, like vinyl tiles

“This can be DIY.”

5. Wallpapering

“This can be DIY for small and simple patterns that one can easily match with the next few rolls. For complex patterns for tall and wide walls, hiring a professional [is advisable].”


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