Q. Irwin and Nicola, everyone tells me that contractors and interior designers will rip me off. True? (Chriss in Minneapolis, MN)
A. Not surprisingly, we say false. Chriss, there is a time and a place to hire a professional and stop all those do-it-yourself urges you get whenever you see magical overnight results on all the DIY shows on television. Many create a public disservice because teams of carpenters and busy worker bees behind the cameras are helping homeowners put up something quick and easy that probably doesn't look good in real life (but the styling is perfect for TV).
If you want to tackle a weekend project, we say knock yourself out! By all means proceed. But we're not big believers in DIY for large-scale tasks. We will say "We told you so!" if you try to tackle alone, and only on weekends or evenings after work, a project that will take a contractor and a team of workers over two months to complete.
Hiring a good, honest, hardworking, and fair contractor or interior designer is the same as hiring a reputable doctor or lawyer. Get personal referrals, check into their licensing and their standing with your chamber of commerce and Better Business Bureau. Go to kitchen and design showrooms and get their recommendations for professionals who can help you complete your jobs. Ask friends who were satisfied by their professional hires. Ask for customer testimonials and tour projects from any contractor or designer you are considering hiring. There are good and bad apples in every profession, including the world of home interiors. But it's rubbish to tar and feather the whole lot because you've heard some bad-luck stories. Search out the good ones, watch our Design2Share Q&A podcasts for tips on how to work well with the pros, and tackle those bigger-than-DIY projects with greater confidence.
Thank you, Chriss, for bringing up a common concern we've been hearing from many of our viewers.