For homeowners and renters alike, DIY projects offer the potential for both personal satisfaction and significant savings. The popularity of home improvement and fixer-upper shows makes us believe that we can easily perform the work that needs to be done. While many home renovation and repair jobs are simple enough, there are plenty of stories about errors that led to costly mistakes requiring professional fixes. It's not time to put away those tools just yet; you need to know which projects require a more experienced hand.
Except for minor projects such as installing a ceiling fan, leave the electrical work to the licensed experts. Your home is a maze of complicated wires and confusing circuitry. Electricians spend around five years as an apprentice before they can work on projects without supervision. Most electrical repairs and renovations also require a permit and knowledge of local building codes. If you’re inexperienced, you can easily shock yourself or cause a fire. Know your boundaries before taking on any type of electrical project.
Clearing up a clogged drain or installing a new showerhead is one thing. Rerouting a sewer line or connecting plumbing pipes are a completely different story. Like electrical work, many plumbing renovations like adding a walk-in shower may require a municipal inspection, so sticking to local building codes is crucial. While DIY plumbing attempts may not be hazardous, they can get expensive if the project gets out of hand. Licensed plumbers will not only complete a task faster, but they’ll also identify existing issues that don’t know to look for.
Most DIYers shouldn’t attempt gas-related projects. Tasks that you think are seemingly easy, such as moving your stove to paint a wall, can turn into a potentially life-threatening situation if you don’t know what you’re doing. Natural gas is a deadly element. An improper gas line installation or a gas leak can cause carbon monoxide poisoning. Unless you’re a qualified technician, don’t attempt to install that gas fire pit in the backyard. Hire a pro.
Home renovation shows make demolitions look fun and easy. Just grab a sledgehammer and start swinging. But there’s more to taking down a wall than what these shows portray. Load-bearing interior walls support the weight of the floor above or the roof. They generally run at a 90-degree angle to the joists. Most exterior walls are also load-bearing. Knock one down and the structure could collapse. If you have any questions as to whether or not a wall is load-bearing, ask a building expert before you tear it down.
Most flooring projects aren’t as simple as they seem. If you plan on renovating the wood floors in your home, think twice before you try this on your own. Most projects start with sanding the floors. This is a skill that you have to develop and it’s also time-consuming. Inexperienced floor sanders are more likely to damage the wood, leaving surface dings and dents that affect its appearance. New floor installations may also require the removal of old flooring. Be realistic and consider your current skill level before starting a flooring project.
Leaky roofs are common, especially in older homes. Putting off repairs has a domino effect, with eventual damage to the insulation, interior walls, and ceilings. Sometimes the leaks are easy to find, but other times, they can be tricky. If you have an attic, you can usually locate where the roof is leaking due to water stains. But if not, you’ll have to use a ladder and get on the roof itself. Leaks are often difficult to discover until there is visible damage. If you don’t have roofing experience, let a roof specialist handle repairs.
Some projects are just too technical for the average DIYer. A heating and air-conditioning system is that type of project. While those with construction experience can probably deal with the ductwork installation in their home, an HVAC technician should handle the rest. They not only know the required building codes and permit processes, but they also have the tools and training to properly install the system. Licensed technicians can buy refrigerants and certain specialized equipment that you can’t.
Pruning and trimming trees is an essential part of their care. But for the untrained homeowner or renter, it can be a dangerous and costly project. The tools required for tree trimming have their own risks. Chainsaws and handsaws can cause serious cuts. Ladders, essential for reaching elevated heights, create potential falling hazards. Poor trimming techniques can lead to declining tree health or deformed regrowth. An unhealthy tree eventually becomes a hazard. Leave extensive pruning and trimming jobs for an arborist or an experienced professional.
Weather events, such as lightning, winds, and hail or ice storms can ravage trees. And, sometimes, it becomes necessary to cut them down. In many cases, the tree cutter leaves the stump behind. But stumps attract wood-eating pests and diseases. Plus, they’re an eyesore. The tree is gone, but the root system continues to grow, damaging underground water and gas lines. Some people try the time-consuming method of digging the stump out of the ground. Stump grinding is the most accepted method of removal, say tree experts. However, it can be quite dangerous. Consult with a tree removal specialist before trying it yourself.
When it comes to DIY decorating and personalizing your living space, it’s best to ignore the latest trends. You’ll likely regret your choices down the road. Wood paneling, wicker furniture, Edison bulbs, shag carpet, word art, and futons were once popular decorating go-to's. Fads like Shabby chic interiors, Tuscan-style kitchens, and stark living spaces are long gone. Today, millennials are leading the way in repurposing old furniture and recycling their favorite decor items. Focus on filling your home with things you love instead of what’s in style.