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DIY vs. Professional Conversion Project: Should You Open Up A Wall Yourself?

February 14th, 2024 | 13 min. read

DIY vs. Professional Conversion Project: Should You Open Up A Wall Yourself?

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Before starting any home remodeling project, one thought that most likely crosses your mind is if you can do it yourself. 

Sure, there are many benefits to taking any project into your own hands, like cost savings, creating your timeline, and not having to deal with contractors. However, a DIY project is also not immune to its own set of problems. 

Whether you want to turn your existing windows into a new door, open up a wall in your home to place a new window or door, or close a door and repair the wall, a lot of work goes into any conversion project. 

Anytime you decide to open up your home, you risk exposing it to moisture, potential pests, and any other outside elements getting into your home. Because of this, you must ensure your project and home are properly cared for, no matter what remodeling you plan to do. 

Southwest Exteriors has been a San Antonio remodeling company since 1989, specializing in window, door, and siding replacements, specialty conversion projects, and custom construction. 

As a trusted professional for over three decades, we typically advise homeowners to work with an established and experienced contractor for any remodeling project. 

But we know you want to explore your options and be educated on the differences between hiring a professional and doing your project yourself to truly see the benefits and potential drawbacks of both and know which option is better for you. 

This article will compare a DIY and professional conversion project by analyzing the pros and cons of each option, including their cost, warranty, time, and experience. 


DIY Conversion Project: Pros and Cons

If you found yourself reading this article, you’re considering taking on your conversion project yourself, so let’s start here. 

DIY-ing your project has several benefits, such as cost savings, customizations, and creating your timetable. However, you must understand both the potential good and bad of this option. 


Benefits of a DIY Conversion Project

1. It costs less

One of any DIY project's first major benefits is cost savings. When you work with a contractor, you not only pay for the products for your project, but you also must pay for the installation, labor, and additional services needed to complete the project. 

When completing your project yourself, you are only paying for the products you need, such as the new window or door, framing boards, caulk, nails, and other tools needed.

It’s also important to note you may need to either purchase or rent certain tools you may not have, which is an additional cost to factor in. 

Considering your budget for your project is essential. If you are looking for the cheapest option available, then a DIY project may be best for you. However, you must remember that cost and quality have a direct relationship. 

If you want your new window or door to last, choosing a higher-quality product and installing it properly will ensure a longer-lasting project to enjoy for years. 


2. You can create your own timeline

The second benefit of a DIY conversion project is creating your own timeline. Working with a remodeling company means you are at their will, and the timing of your installation can depend on lead times for products and the installation capacity of the company. 

When working for yourself, you get to be the boss. You can decide when you want to work on your project, whether it’s slowly throughout the week or all day on a Saturday and Sunday. 

The freedom to choose your own timeline allows you to complete your project around your life, not the other way around. 

This can be a major benefit for a homeowner who likes to get things done on their own time instead of being told when something will happen. 


3. You can customize your project to fit you

Another benefit of completing your conversion project yourself is that you can customize certain project elements to fit what you want. 

While you may have to purchase a more cookie-cutter window or door from a big box store, you can create custom trim, add window tint or decorative film, and much more. 

Maybe, for example, you want to add a window above your kitchen sink to let your light in. In doing this project yourself, you can also be sure to choose the right backsplash to match or create a custom window sill to place your favorite plants. 

Now, many contractors can also complete these customizations for you when doing this project, but it comes back to the cost savings and your goals for your project. 

Consider what you want the final product to look like. What custom elements go into that? Are they customizations you want to complete yourself? Would you rather hire a contractor? 

If you are an ambitious DIY-er and have a larger vision for the new opening you create, then doing this project yourself may be better for you, especially if you are nervous a contractor won’t be able to make your vision come to life. 


Potential Drawbacks of a DIY Conversion Project

1. It requires a lot of experience

The first drawback of a DIY conversion project is the experience it requires, which can lead to many problems in the future if you don’t know what you are doing. 

Removing and replacing windows and doors takes an elite amount of skill. If they are not removed properly, you risk damage to the frame of your home and the possible intrusion of moisture and pests. 

Similarly, opening a blank wall up in your home is not for the weak. While you may think it’s as simple as throwing a sledgehammer into the wall, it requires much more precision, care, and skill than that. 

If you blindly open up your wall without knowing what to properly do next, your home is left exposed. On the flip side, if your new window or door is not installed correctly or the frame around the opening is not built properly, you compromise the integrity of your home’s interior. 

Any moisture that comes in behind the new window or door can turn into rot and slowly decay your home’s frame. 

There are many necessary steps and skills required to properly create an opening in your home and seal it with a new window or door. If you do not have these skills or don’t know what you are doing, you risk damaging your home and creating costly problems in the future. 


2. It can take longer than hiring a professional 

While creating your own timeline for this project can be a benefit of a DIY, it can also turn into a potential drawback. 

Sometimes, when doing things ourselves, we can be our own worst enemy of completion. A DIY remodeling project takes a lot of time and effort and can become overwhelming once you start. 

Life gets in the way, and sometimes, things out of our control disrupt our schedule. This can make starting and completing a DIY remodeling project even more difficult. 

When you work with a contractor, you don’t have to worry about clearing your entire schedule to get things done. While, yes, you may need to be available or home while construction is happening, you can continue to accomplish things in your personal life instead of putting it on hold. 

Before starting any project yourself, remember to consider the time commitment necessary. The last thing you want is to create an opening in your home and then have something get in the way, causing you to leave a square of plywood over the opening for the time being. 


3. You don’t have a warranty to back your work

The final drawback of a DIY conversion project is not having a warranty to back your work. The purpose of a warranty is to ensure products and services meet certain standards, and if they don’t, the company will provide or pay to make it right. 

The products you purchase for your project will typically have a manufacturer warranty, ensuring the performance of the product for a certain period of time. When you work with contractors, they also have a warranty to back their workmanship. 

This means when you complete your project yourself, you have no warranty on the installation and labor. So, if anything goes wrong, like failing caulking or insufficient framing, you will pay out of pocket for the repairs. 

This is a serious risk to consider for any DIY project and is a major benefit in hiring a professional who can ensure their work and back it up with a quality warranty. 


Is A DIY Conversion Project Right For You? 

Now that you know the three major benefits and potential drawbacks of a DIY conversion project, you have a better understanding of whether this is the right option for you. 

  • Choosing to complete this project yourself may be right for you if you have adequate skill in construction, want to save money on your project, and have the time. 
  • You shouldn’t embark on this project yourself if you don’t have the proper knowledge of construction and window and door replacement, have a busy schedule to work around, and want to ensure a quality and long-lasting outcome. 


Professional Conversion Project: Pros and Cons

Now that you understand the pros and cons of a DIY conversion project let’s look at some of the benefits and potential pitfalls of hiring a professional for this service. 

Using a professional for this project obviously comes with the benefits of experience from a trusted contractor, their warranty, and more. But this doesn’t mean there aren’t some cons that come with hiring a professional. 


Benefits of a Professional Conversion Project

1. You don’t have to stress about completing your project yourself 

The first major benefit of hiring a professional for your project is the less stress involved. While, yes, it can still be stressful when working with a contractor on your home, you don’t have the stress of completing the project yourself. 

As we outline in the above sections, any conversion project takes a large amount of time and skill. If you don’t have this skill but still decide to DIY the project, this can create a lot of stress and regret, wishing you had hired a professional in the first place. 

When you work with a trustworthy contractor, your project should be smooth sailing from start to finish. You should be constantly communicated with, have all your questions answered, and know what’s coming next. 

Overall, working with a professional company for your project is ideal if you don’t want to find the right products and tools and research installation practices to stress about completing your project properly. 


2. You have access to higher-quality products 

The second benefit of working with a professional window and door company for your conversion project is having access to higher-quality products. 

Cookie-cutter products available at big box stores or for order online tend to be of lesser quality, making them less expensive and more appealing to the average shopper. 

While these products do cost less, lower-quality products do not last as long as higher-quality ones. This means if you want your new window or door to last for decades in your home, you need a high-quality product installed by a professional. 

Working with a trusted professional contractor will ensure you have the highest-quality products installed to the highest standards, allowing them to look great, perform, and last in your home. 


3. Your products and installation are backed by a warranty

The third benefit of working with a professional contractor is the warranty that protects the installation and labor of your new window or door. 

When completing your project yourself, you have no warranty to back your work. When working with a professional, they offer a warranty that outlines what they will provide in case of improper installation or issues in the future. 

For example, if you notice the caulk around your new window starting to peel and caulk failure is covered under the contractor's warranty, they will fix the problem free of charge. If the same happens to the window you install yourself, you are paying more and spending your time fixing the problem. 

Having a warranty to protect the installation of your new products ensures if anything goes wrong with them in the future, the contractor is held accountable. 


Read more about 7 things to identify in a warranty! 


Potential Drawbacks of a Professional Conversion Project

1. It can be difficult to find a trustworthy contractor

One of the first drawbacks of working with a professional on any remodeling project is finding a trustworthy contractor who knows what they are doing. 

When it comes to a conversion project, you need to find a contractor that specializes in both window and door replacements as well as construction. The last thing you want is to spend thousands of dollars on a contractor only to result in a failed outcome. 

If a company seems to agree to any ask you have, assuring you they can do it without proof they have ever done a project like this before, this is a red flag. 

The key to finding a trustworthy contractor is researching, asking the right questions, and knowing what qualities to look for in a trustworthy and shady contractor. 

It’s important to find a contractor that has been locally established for years in your area, has raving online reviews, and has proof of their work. This will help you to properly vet potential contractors and choose one that will take care of your home. 


2. It’s more expensive

Another drawback of working with a professional for your project is that it is more expensive than if you DIY it. 

Hiring a contractor for your project means paying not only for the products necessary but also for labor, services, warranty, and everything else that goes into completing this project. 

When considering the cost of your project, it’s important to think about all that goes into it. While, yes, working with a professional costs more than doing it yourself, you save on personal stress, doing the work yourself, and potentially making mistakes that you’ll have to pay to fix in the future. 

If you want to create a new, custom opening in your home with high-quality products that will last, hiring a professional is your best option, but it will cost more. 

This is why it is important to have realistic expectations for the cost and quality of your project. The higher the quality of products and installation, the more it will cost. But, the longer it lasts and the better it will look. 


3. Lead times for products and installation may be longer 

The final potential drawback of working with a professional is you are at the will of their timeline. 

Lead times for products fluctuate depending on the market, but typically, it can take anywhere from four to eight weeks for custom windows and doors to arrive once ordered. 

This means that if you want your project done now, it may not actually be installed until a month or two from now. So, if you want your project installed as soon as possible, meeting with a contractor as soon as possible is your best solution. 

Now, this is only a potential drawback if you are on a timeline for any reason. Otherwise, if you want a high-quality installation, waiting patiently for high-quality products to come in will be more beneficial for you. 


Is A Professional Conversion Project Right For You? 

After understanding the benefits and potential drawbacks of a professional conversion project, you have a better idea of if this choice is right for you. 

Hiring a professional for your project is best if you don’t mind paying more for a higher-quality outcome and don’t want to worry about completing the project yourself. 

While finding a trustworthy company to work with may be difficult, it is worth the investment if you want a long-lasting outcome. 


DIY vs. Professional Conversion Project: Which Is Right For You? 

Now that you know both the pros and cons of both a DIY and professional conversion project, you have a better idea of each project's benefits and drawbacks and which option is best for you. 

Deciding to complete any remodeling project yourself is a daunting task. You must have the right tools, skills, and adequate time to complete it with success. 

When it comes to turning your windows into a door, your door into a window, or creating an opening in an existing wall, even more skill and proper care are necessary to achieve a quality and long-lasting outcome. 

  • A DIY conversion project may be right for you if you have experience with window and door replacements and construction, have the proper tools available and want a more affordable option. However, it’s important to consider the quality of products available to you and the potential risks involved with installation and construction. 
  • Hiring a professional for your project is the better option for you if you want high-quality products and installation, a warranty to back the work, and don’t mind paying more for a long-lasting and quality outcome. 

Making the right choice for you depends on your wants, goals, and needs for your project. Consider what products you want, how much you want to pay, and what you want the outcome to look like. 

As a trusted San Antonio remodeling company since 1989, Southwest Exteriors has always recommended working with a professional for any remodeling project.

While it does cost more, working with an expert contractor will ensure you get the right products and installation for a successful project. 

To help you find the best contractor for your project, check out this article and video that outlines six things to look for in a contractor for your conversion project. Then, you’ll know exactly what to look for when searching for the right contractor and avoid being taken advantage of.