Any homeowner or renter knows that, no matter how well a house was designed and built, sooner or later, something’s going to break. For most renters, a simple call to their landlord will have a maintenance team coming to check and fix the problem within the week.

But if you’re a homeowner, any break is going to present you with essentially three options that you have to consider: fix it yourself, call in an expert, or leave it alone and pray it doesn’t get any worse. It can be hard to determine what the right move is, especially when calling in a specialist can cost hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars, while a botched DIY job can not only make the problem worse but cause damage to other parts of your home.

To help you make the right decision about whether you should try to tackle a repair yourself, or start looking for contractors in your area, consider the following points before you make the call.

How Bad the Problem Is, or How Bad it Will Get

The first thing you’ll obviously want to assess when you have something go awry in your home is how bad the damage is in the first place. Dependent on what the issue is, it may be something simple that you can address yourself, or even leave alone for now. A small crack in the tile of your kitchen floor may not be cause for much concern, while a steady leak from your water heater can destroy your garage or basement if left unattended.

Don’t assume that, just because only an unimportant item is affected now, that more important items won’t be affected later. If your ceiling fan stops working, it could be a simple problem with the fan’s motor, or their could be an issue with your house’s electrical wiring, that will deteriorate and affect other appliances over time.

After you’ve assessed the damage, and how it could affect other areas of your home, you’ll have a much better idea whether it’s something you can handle yourself, will require an expert to handle, or can be left alone for now. Learn how to look for the tell-tale signs that a problem is coming, and whether or not you know how to deal with it.

How Much It Will Cost

Once you’ve assessed the damage, the next obvious point will be cost. Home repairs can be very expensive, no matter how minor or severe, and they vary widely based on what the issue is.

Contracting rates vary from firm to firm, and going for the cheapest can get you shoddy craftsmen who will perform a patchwork job that may last you six months or less. To find a quality contractor who will fix your problem, and take steps to ensure it doesn’t happen again, you’ll have to invest time researching reviews and services pages, and you can expect to pay a good amount to get the best.

On the other hand, if you attempt to DIY, without having all of the tools and knowledge that you need to succeed, you might not only compound the immediate problem, but also damage other, more critical items in your home. Even if you opt to do it yourself, you may need to invest in materials and tools you’ll need to fix the damage, which can quickly wrack up your debt if you have to buy everything you’ll need.

So, before you commit to DIY or a contractor, look at the cost, in money, time, and potential pitfalls.

Your Own Skill Level and Time Available

Most of us are pretty adept at fixing small household problems. An adjustable wrench, a hammer, and some duct tape are enough to fix a leaky faucet or unclog a sink. But if you’re dealing with an electrical outage, a backed up septic tank, or anything of that nature, you’ll probably be at a loss. What’s worse, even if you know how to run your own wires and cables, it will take you hours. You’ve got a full time job and you can’t afford to use up all your sick days to fix a leak in your roof.

Before you decide whether or not to call in an expert, think about how skilled you are in the area that needs fixing, and how much time it will take. Per the example above, a leaky faucet can be fixed in a matter of minutes, and you can probably handle it yourself.

Conversely, a cracked, damaged driveway could cause extensive damage to the undercarriage of your car, will take a long time to repair, and requires an extensive degree of knowledge, with hands-on experience. In instances like that, you’re better off contracting a professional to do the work for you.

There are ample online tutorials for any number of home improvement or DIY repairs, so there’s always the option to teach yourself, but if you’re not confident in your own abilities, and especially if you don’t have time, call in an expert.

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