PhotoThree-quarters of homeowners tackled a home improvement project over the last year, but according to a new survey by home design site, Zillow Digs, 40% of these do-it-yourselfers ended up wishing they hadn't. What may seem like the affordable route towards completing a project can quickly turn into a DIY disaster, leaving many wishing they'd hired a professional.

"With seemingly endless DIY tips and how-to videos available today, home improvement projects appear easier and more accessible than ever before," says Kerrie Kelly, Zillow Digs home design expert, adding that DIY doesn't always equal cost-efficiency.

Big projects, big headaches

"While some DIY projects can save you money, involving a professional for larger-scale projects, especially those that require specialized skills, can help eliminate headaches and costly mistakes," Kelly says.

Nearly a quarter of homeowners surveyed said their larger-scale project – like building a deck or renovating a basement – went over budget. Big projects like these left over half of homeowners surveyed (53%) unhappy with some aspect of the result.

Minor projects, however, like replacing light fixtures or cabinet hardware were relatively painless to most homeowners, leaving less than 20% wishing they hadn't taken them on.

What other home improvement projects left folks wishing they'd gone with a pro? Here is Zillow Digs' list of the most and least regretted DIY projects:

The five most regretted

  • Adding a room or expanding/altering an existing one
  • Refacing or refinishing cabinetry
  • Refinishing a basement or attic
  • Replacing or installing new carpeting
  • Refinishing or reinstalling new hardwood floors

The five least regretted

  • Replacing light fixtures
  • Replacing cabinet hardware
  • Painting one or more rooms
  • Installing new kitchen appliances
  • Replacing plumbing fixtures

Choosing a contractor

If one of your projects happens to have won a spot on the ‘most-regretted’ list, hiring a contractor may be the first step towards completing it with your budget – and sanity –  intact.

According to the experts at HGTV.com, step one in the selection process is to ask around. A word-of-mouth referral from a friend, relative, or neighbor can be invaluable – a trusted friend will be able to answer questions like, “What made it a positive experience” or “Would you use the same contractor again?”

Looking at credentials, interviewing candidates, and checking references should all come before having a contractor sign on the dotted line. A few simple steps is all it takes to find the right person for the job, ensuring you’ll be left with total confidence and a great result.


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