“I know Kung-Fu” – we all remember Neo getting patched into the Matrix and learning Kung Fu from what was, essentially, Matrix YouTube. There are seemingly endless resources available to help do-it-yourselfers, such as books with step-by-step instructions and the before mentioned online how-to videos. The general rule is to undertake projects you feel comfortable with and have the skill set to complete with good results. Most people are handy with a paintbrush and can save some bucks handling cosmetic improvements themselves. Others are willing to expand their repertoire to install tile, replace countertops, or even build a deck.
When considering what home improvement projects you can handle and what should be left to the professionals there are three major signs that a job is too dangerous for the Weekend Warrior.
It Could Kill You. The first question you need to ask yourself about any DIY job is, what is the worst possible thing that could happen if you mess it up? For some jobs, such as roofing or major electrical work, the answer is, “I could get killed.” That answer is an obvious red flag – a warning sign that this is a job for a professional who is trained to handle its dangers.
It Could Destroy Your Home. Major plumbing jobs, such as moving bathroom fixtures, fit into this category. If you don’t get everything properly installed and tightened, you can end up with a water leak – possibly one that goes unnoticed for years until it weakens a wall to the point of collapse. Of course, that would also be true if a plumber hired by you made the same mistake – but in that case the plumber would be at fault and would have to pay for the damage.
It Requires a Permit. One warning sign that a job is probably too complicated for a DIY job is that it requires a building permit – a document that guarantees a construction job was done safely. Each municipality has its own rules about which jobs require permits. The fact that you need one is a sign that you should think carefully about whether this is a job you really want to tackle yourself.
There are a few jobs that you should not even consider tackling if your skills are closer to handyman level. When planning an addition or home remodeling project, time is money and the more time spent on the project, the more it will cost in the long run. While it may be tempting to do the project yourself to save money, you never want to find yourself in the middle of a project unsure of what to do next. This is especially true if you run into a problem, or worse, lose motivation and never get the job done. These are the situations when you want to hire a pro.
Driveway repaving can be a difficult home project for a DIYer because to do it properly the surface must be level or you'll end up with a cracked, crumbling driveway. You can certainly do some driveway patching yourself. But when it comes time to repave, hire a pro who has the proper tools to do it right which will save you money in the long run.
Window replacement seems easy—just place a new window in the space where the old one was. Except, it's a lot more than that. There are some window repair projects you can do yourself. However, when it comes to installing new windows, hire a pro to make sure the windows fit properly so your heated or cooled indoor air stays inside. You're paying a lot for good windows, so knowing they are installed properly is worth the investment.
So many trees in our area have been stressed due to weather and infestation. However there's a good chance that removing the big tree in your yard is not a DIY home project. While you can certainly remove a small tree yourself, a professional tree trimmer should be called in for both trimming and removal of large trees. And since the pros have the proper equipment for reaching high branches and can bring down a large tree safely. Never climb up a tree with a chainsaw thinking you can handle the work yourself.
When it comes to electrical work there are certain projects you can do yourself, such as connecting old wiring to a new light fixture. However, any major electrical projects—such as running new wiring to an addition—should be done by a licensed electrician. Not only is electrical work dangerous, if you don't know what you're doing, you also run the risk of creating a fire hazard. It's best to just hire a pro.
There are certainly many DIY projects you can tackle yourself. But major plumbing work, such as replacing all of your water pipes or dealing with your water main, should be done by a licensed professional. The last thing you want is flooding or water damage caused by improperly installed or replaced pipes.