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Cottage Renovation
2020

Should I Do My Muskoka Cottage Renovation Myself or Hire a Contractor?

Before seeking out a professional contractor, it’s important to ask the question: can I do this job myself? Some jobs are best left to professionals, such as window and door installation or replacement. However, there are others you may be able to easily manage on your own – even if you don’t consider yourself all that handy. If you are a new cottage owner, it may be hard to tell the difference between the two. 
 
What jobs are best left to contractors?
If there is a job you need to have done, it’s important to plan ahead – even if you won’t be the one doing it. With a shortage of contractors in the area during peak season, getting the job lined up in advance is crucial. For example, if you have a job you want done in the late spring or summer, reach out for an estimate during the winter – March at the latest. That way, you don’t need to worry about nobody being available when you need them. 
 
Whether it’s upgrading an electrical panel or rewiring an appliance, don’t try to do most electrical jobs yourself. While you may be fine with wiring a light switch or a ceiling fan, any larger-scale electrical job should be avoided by a homeowner. For the most part, if electricity is involved, don’t take the risk and hire a professional. Similarly, routine maintenance of major items, such as septic tanks, furnaces, or water systems, can be handled on your own. If they require replacing, a contractor is best suited to handle it. 
 
If the job requires building permits or an inspection, let a local contractor take care of it. Even if the task itself doesn’t seem too large, a contractor based in Muskoka will know just what a local inspector and/or municipality is looking for. By leaving those tasks to the pros, every step will be easier and much more stress-free. 
 
Most window and door replacement or installation work, too, is best left to professionals. Simple tasks, such as replacing a pane of glass or putting in a new screen door can be done on your own. However, anytime the job requires cutting into a wall or similarly large changes, you should be hiring someone to do it who has done it before – preferably for many years. 
 
The rest you can usually do yourself 
While there are certainly jobs you should avoid taking up on your own, there are plenty more you can do yourself! Though it depends just how adept you are, almost anything else besides the jobs we’ve listed above can be handled on your own if you have the time and the inclination. 
 
However, before undergoing any job yourself, be sure to research local noise bylaws. A noise complaint or worse, a fine, will be unavoidable if you are starting up engines, hammers, or chainsaws before or after the local bylaws allow. On a quiet lake, the noise is going to travel, and your neighbors won’t appreciate being woken up to the sound of construction work on a daily basis. There are many unwritten rules in cottage country too – one of which is that most people try to get major construction work out of the way in spring or fall so everyone on the lake can enjoy a peaceful summer. Of course if you have a job that needs to get done, it has to get done, but look up the noise bylaws and give your neighbours a heads up. 
 
Remember to be careful not to take on too much. You are at the cottage to relax and enjoy yourself. Save time to get that rest and relaxation you deserve!

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