With stores like Home Depot on every corner promising to teach you how to complete a project yourself, it can be tempting to think about tackling projects on your own to save money. Hiring an expert can be costly, but there are times when it may save you more than you think. Every project is different, and there are definitely times when a DIY job is the answer, but to best determine which will save you more, take a look at several variables that have to be considered with each project.

Cost of Tools

If you’re constantly working and building around the house, chances are you have a full complement of tools to get the job done. If this is your first DIY project, however, you need to factor in the amount you’re saving vs. the cost of the tools you’ll need to get the job done.

Tools can be expensive, particularly if you need some big ticket items like wet saws or staple guns. If your project is going to need several tools, ask yourself if you’ll be using them again anytime soon. If the answer is yes, then it may be worth the investment and continued savings down the road.

If the answer is no, however, you may actually end up saving more by going with the expert, particularly if the job isn’t very big.

Cost of Waste

Waste is the extra material you purchase to account for things like breakage or mistakes. If you’re putting in something that is purchased by the square foot, like tile, shingles, or siding, you’ll probably need to factor in extra waste material to make up for your inexperience. You won’t need too much – only about 5% extra on average – but if you add the cost of the waste to the cost of tools, it could tip the balance in favor of having an expert do the job.

Cost of Time

Let’s face it, unless you have experience with the DIY project you’re taking on, it’s probably going to take you longer than it will take a professional to do the job. This is fine if you don’t need the space done in a hurry. A second bathroom, for example, can take much longer to complete than if you are only working on the shower. When you’re weighing the costs of doing it yourself or hiring someone, be realistic about how long the project will take you. If you can afford to take your time without inconveniencing yourself or your family, then the savings is definitely worth it. If not, look into hiring someone to get the job done.

Material Cost

Most contractors receive a discount for purchasing material they will be installing themselves. Sometimes, they will pass this savings along to you as a courtesy or a way to get your business. Understand that you will be paying full price for material if you tackle the job yourself, and this extra cost needs to be added to your budget for the project.

Add It Up

To find out how much you’ll be saving by doing something yourself or hiring an expert, take the time to do the math. Figure out what tools you’ll need and what they will cost. Add in the extra you’ll need in your budget for waste material. Then factor in time.

Finally, get a minimum of three quotes from different experts. Ideally all three quotes should be similar. But if they aren’t, use the middle quote as your deciding factor and pit it against how much money and time you’ll be spending doing the work yourself. Then you can make an informed decision.