DIY Renovation Tips: What Should You Actually DIY?

Cardinal Financial November 17, 2023 | 4 min read
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If you’re looking for DIY home renovation tips, you’ve probably come face to face with the DIY home renovation dilemma: Which projects should you actually DIY, and which ones should you leave to the pros? Keep reading for our breakdown of home improvement responsibilities and more helpful advice.

3 Key DIY Home Renovation Tips

  • Decide which projects you’ll DIY, and which you’ll leave to the pros
  • Budget for more than you think you’ll need
  • Work on one project at a time

Decide which projects you’ll DIY

As a general rule, you’ll want to avoid DIYing projects that require permits (this will vary depending on where you live, so do your research before you start). Similarly, projects involving your electricity, plumbing, and HVAC system are better left to professionals. So, what projects can you DIY?


As long as you take proper safety precautions, demolition is a home renovation project you can tackle yourself. Just don’t knock down that load-bearing wall, please. And if your home was built prior to 1979, make sure you test for lead paint and asbestos first.


A fresh coat of paint is a mainstay of DIY home updates. Choose your colors, cover your furniture and floors, and have fun. And if you don’t feel like taking on your whole home, simply painting your front door with a statement color can boost your curb appeal.

Fixtures and finishes

Swapping out light fixtures, switch plate covers, and cabinet hardware is a simple update that can make a big difference. All you really need to handle this one is the right screwdriver. Since fixtures and finishes are easy to swap out, this is also a good way to incorporate current home decor trends. If you don’t like the look or trends change, updating them again is a simple process.

Drywall (sometimes)

This one really comes down to how much confidence you have in your drywall abilities. Patching up a few holes is a skill every homeowner should have, but large-scale drywall projects are typically not worth the headache of doing yourself. So, if your whole home needs new drywall, call a pro. If it’s a small area, go ahead and DIY (if you want to, of course).

Budget for more than you think you’ll need

An evergreen home renovation tip? Expect the unexpected. That includes your budget, too. While you can save a lot of money by DIYing, you’ll still need to account for the costs of materials and tools in your budget—with wiggle room for any do-overs you may need. Luckily, your mortgage could actually help you finance those home projects. With a cash-out refinance, you can leverage your home equity for cash and use those funds to cover your renovation expenses.*

*Using your home equity to pay off debts or make other purchases does not eliminate the debt or the cost of the purchases, but rather increases the loan amount of your mortgage to be paid according to your new mortgage terms.

Work on one project at a time

Ready to practice mindfulness? One of the best DIY home renovation tips we can offer is to be patient. Tackle one project at a time so that if life happens and you need to pause, your whole home won’t be in disarray. Starting with just one project is also a good way to gauge if DIY is the right choice for you. Sometimes, the work just isn’t worth it and you may decide that professional renovations are a better fit going forward. No judgment here.

If you do opt out of DIY renovations, you may be able to use a renovation loan to roll your mortgage and project costs into one. This can help streamline the process, ensure your contractor is reliable, and lower your up-front renovation expenses.

Bonus DIY home renovation tips

Don’t hit the ground running with your home improvement ideas just yet. Before you go, here are a few bonus DIY home renovation tips to keep in mind.

  • Stay flexible. Timelines, budgets, and visions may have to change as you go, so don’t stress if everything doesn’t go exactly to your original plan.
  • Collect plenty of inspiration. Having a visual aid to guide your work usually results in a better finished product than freestyling it.
  • Ask for help. DIY doesn’t have to mean actually doing everything yourself. Ask for your friends’ opinions on design options, host a house painting party, and make the most of your community resources.

Our top DIY home renovation tip? Understand which projects should actually be DIYed, and which are better left to professionals.

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