How many home improvement stories have you heard that start with “How hard can it be?” and end with “So guess what I’m hiring someone to redo for me?” Thanks to Pintrest and Nifty, homeowners around the world think that putting some new style into their home costs nothing and always looks perfect. But the internet says otherwise….
So to save you from ending up in a future version of this post, we’ve compiled a list of the top 5 DIY projects you should leave to the professionals.
This is a fairly wide range. Electrical projects could be anything from simply installing a GCFI outlet to something a bit more intensive like converting fuses to circuit breakers. As long as you make sure your power is turned off BEFORE starting your project, you can probably figure out how to attach wires to your new outlet or fixture. (And if you need some help from YouTube, we won’t tell anyone) But any jobs past this probably take a bit more knowledge and experience that a professional wouldn’t think twice about. Are you familiar with the permits you need to pull in your town? Or how to install new wiring so your house doesn’t burn down once the wires are live? Building codes exist for a reason; safety is paramount in electrical updates and not being up to code might not affect you now, but won’t be good for you in the future when trying to sell your house.
This is another job where you might be ok to do some small jobs on your own, but no matter how small the job is, DO NOT GET UP ON THE ROOF WHEN YOU ARE HOME ALONE! Roofing professionals make safety their first priority. Even when repairing two shingles on a ranch home with a roof pitched at 20°, you might think that isn’t steep enough to really worry, but that is enough of an angle to slip and you should at least have a spotter holding the ladder. But taking on bigger jobs include carrying a lot of materials up and down a ladder (which is tiring enough) while working on the part of the house most exposed to the elements and the danger of slipping over the edge becomes very real. Make that a second story roof or steeper incline and the situation could be life or death.
3. Tree Removal
Another project that, like roofing, you can do smaller jobs by yourself. But big trees? They don’t like falling where they’re supposed to. You can put a small notch on one side while you cut the other or you can have a friend tie a rope on a branch to pull one way while you cut, but gravity always wins. Plus branches spread wide and can take down power lines or damage your house. PLUS trimming the branches from the trunk? Tedious. Ridiculously tedious. Save your excitement about cutting trees down for Christmas and let a professional do it the rest of the year.
This is probably more of a personal choice to include, but I think you’ll see why. So of all the projects on our list, this probably takes the least amount of specialty tools, takes the least experience to do, and really, if you screw it up, it’s no going to ruin your house and can be redone relatively easily. BUT no walls are built perfectly straight, not even in a brand new house. So when you put up molding, you can install it perfectly and still notice gaps from the wall or the floor (or ceiling if this is crown molding) or maybe the joints don’t line up perfectly. Then you’ll spend time caulking/sanding the gaps and worrying about getting it on parts of the house that shouldn’t have it. It’s just easier to let someone else have do this one. Professionals use techniques such as scribing, which shapes the material to hug every curve of your house and leave you living within staring at the one spot of imperfection no one sees but you. We know, it’s a headache.
Did you notice that the majority of the examples of DIY fails at the beginning of this were plumbing related? It’s not coincidental. Even experienced plumbers will tell you that like gas, water will find opportunity to leak. The smallest hole could be the biggest home insurance claim you make. And not all plumbing jobs are as simple as screwing some pipes together. Extending hot water lines means working with copper piping which requires a blow torch…can you use one without burning yourself or your house down? Are you comfortable testing if you have a good seal in your new faucet or toilet? A simple job could easily turn into a wet future and an expensive home renovation. We say this is one for the pros.
What home improvement jobs have you regretted tackling yourself? We’d love to hear your stories!