DIY Concrete vs. Hiring a Professional

Can you afford a novice mistake? The demolition and removal of a botched concrete project may cost more than a contractor.

Posted by Caryn Colgan | Jan 20, 2010
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Do-it-yourself homeowners are often fearless when it comes to projects around the house. However, there are some projects that are better left to the professionals. One of those projects may be concrete work. Concrete projects require time, patience, careful calculations and measurements and, more importantly, can be costly to repair or remove and haul away. Hiring a professional to install concrete projects may be more cost effective than making a do-it-yourself mistake.

Size and Importance of Project

If the concrete project involves a small patio, then a competent do-it-yourselfer is likely to be successful. However, for foundations, footings and larger projects, your best choice is probably to hire concrete professionals. They are experts when it comes to proper mixing, drying times, building forms and whether or not the project requires reinforcements such as rebar. It will cost more to demolish, haul away and replace a poorly executed project than it will cost to hire a professional at the outset.

Common Mistakes

Professionals know the value of planning and properly mixing the concrete. Before pouring concrete, a form must be built for the project. Knowing the maximum dimensions of the forms is critical to prevent the slumping and cracking of the final project. One common mistake is to make the pad too large.

Another mistake is failing to make the concrete template or form level. The sides of the forms must be carefully laid out for the finished project to be level. Also, the foundation must be leveled so concrete is not too deep in some spots, which will cause uneven drying and deformation.

In a rush to get the job done, it is tempting to bypass measuring the water and add water to a dry concrete mix until it "looks about right." Improperly mixed concrete is more likely to crack than properly mixed concrete. It takes time to measure, pour and level the concrete.

Some cracks can be filled and repaired, but if the foundation of a building cracks, it requires a major expenditure to repair. Foundation cracks can also significantly decrease the value of a home or building.

Quick and Equipped

Since professional concrete contractors know the characteristics of their medium, they can complete the project more quickly than those with less experience. When hiring a concrete contractor, be sure he guarantees his results and will quickly repair any problems.

Not only can professional contractors complete a project more quickly, they have all of the equipment. Larger projects may require a concrete mixer rather than a wheelbarrow, which can be expensive to rent. They also have the necessary tools to properly apply a smooth or textured finish to the concrete's surface.

There are some projects that do-it-yourself homeowners should consider hiring professionals to complete. Concrete work can be expensive to demolish and haul away. By hiring a concrete professional, homeowners can be sure that the work actually adds value to their home.

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