Do you hate something about your house? You can probably change it, all by yourself - you just need to know what you're up against.
The first thing you should know is that contractors - even the absolute best - constantly run into difficulties too. We're just really good about hiding it until the homeowner is out of earshot, then it's a lot of whispered "oh shit, what are we going to do about that!!" What you're doing when you hire work out is paying for someone else to deal with problems, and paying for expert tools and knowledge. If you start a simple project that rapidly spirals into a horrible mess, it's not because you're cursed. ;)
The second thing you must consider is what your expectations are. The most obvious way to explain this is to ask yourself how long you're going to live in your current house. If you're flipping the house (ahahah, remember back in 2005, when people actually flipped houses and made money??) you'll fix things as quickly and cheaply as possible. If you're going to retire here, you want to spend the time and money to do it textbook-perfect. If you're somewhere in the middle - maybe we'll get something smaller when the kids go to college; maybe we'll get something bigger if we have kids; maybe we'll move thousands of miles in a couple of years - then you're trying to strike a balance.
Here's an example: My kitchen, as I constantly remark, is carpeted. I want to rip up the carpet and put down tile. But wait - that's a really good time to put in new cabinets. And fix the ugly drop ceiling with the heinous yellowed fluorescent fixtures. And get a nicer countertop. But doing all that takes "fix the floor" from a three or four digit project to a five-digit HELOC nightmare. How long will we live here? How badly do I hate those cabinets and that light fixture?
My personal answer - I'm not sure. Right now, I'm leaning toward leaving the functional and not unattractive countertop in place, painting the cabinets, and possibly getting new doors for them. I really hate the lights, but again, they're amazingly expensive, so they'll stay for now. Tiling the floor is on the list, but it's not at the top.
My third point that I'd like you to keep in mind: You will not get back what you spend on your kitchen and bathroom. Until you've done one, you have no idea how fast those two areas add up. If there's any chance you're going to move in, say, the next five years, resist the temptation to Better Homes and Gardens your kitchen and bathroom. Prospective buyers care much more about usability than they do about the whirlpool or the granite countertops. Now, if you're going to stay 10 or more years, knock yourself out. But don't fool yourself about the investment value of your tiled backsplash.
Next up: a look at my current Project, along with how I narrowed it down and how I'm tackling the little steps.