Egged on by social media and publishing platforms like Pinterest, there’s been a cultural shift from valuing expertise to preaching do-it-yourself (DIY) projects.
From pins proclaiming to repurpose old socks and unused mason jars to boards that boast “25 DIY Home Improvement Projects,” there seems to exist a false confidence that encourages homeowners to attempt projects that were once left to the professionals.
While DIY home improvement projects may seem like the most cost-efficient way to repair or add value to your home, we’ll break down the top 10 projects that should be left to the professionals.
Installing Crown Molding
You may have read various posts about how crown molding can beautify a room. When installed correctly, it can transform your space from ordinary to regal with elegant details lining the walls of your home.
Molding may seem like a quick weekend home improvement project, but it’s not a feat for the faint of heart. This is mostly attributed to the fact that walls are never perfectly straight – even in newly constructed houses. Caulk all you want, but walls will always have imperfections.
To rectify this reality, contractors and even some painters use professional tools and a tricky technique known as scribing to make sure molding is aligned correctly to crooked walls. For a DIY-er, this process can be meticulous and impossible to achieve.
Installing or Replacing Drywall
Given that drywall is generally lightweight and inexpensive, many DIY daredevils falsely assume that there’s no need to seek instruction when attempting to install or replace it.
Yet without proper guidance, improperly installing drywall can compromise the structural setup of your wall, which may lead the wall to unexpectedly collapse.
For example, drywall is soft and therefore easily ruined, so should you set it up wrong, you’re at risk for heavy picture frames or mirrors falling and shattering.
Contractors are experienced and can repair your drywall in no time. They can also save you money, because if you attempt to DIY and find that you’re having to try several times to get it right, the cost can add up in the end.
DIY electrical work can feel as nerve-wracking as a suspenseful bomb-diffusing scene in an action movie. Is it the red wire or the blue wire? While you may not be at risk of a dramatic movie explosion, you could electrocute yourself or cause a house fire.
Besides the risk of electrocution and fire, there are a few other aspects of electrical work that you shouldn’t tamper with. For example, all electrical components in a home are required to pass a home inspection before use. Failure to do so could result in hefty fines.
Even more so, when it’s time to sell your home and hire an inspector, your DIY work may not pass the inspector’s criteria, meaning you could decrease the value of your home, or worse, find that you’re unable to sell it.
Avoid the risk of danger for your home and family by hiring an electrician.
Like electrical work, if you don’t know what you’re doing, the process and result could be dangerous and possibly fatal. Carbon monoxide poisoning, typically caused by an incorrectly installed gas appliance or leading gas line, can lead to death or an explosion in your home.
If you notice leaks in a gas line or a gas odor in your home, the first thing you should do is contact your local gas company directly. Unless you have experience with gas line repair, do not attempt to DIY; an incorrectly sealed leak can still release enough gas to eventually poison anyone in or around your home.
Since a natural gas line is potentially one of the most dangerous elements in your home, make sure you don’t leave it up to chance and contact your local gas company.
When I think of fixing a roof DIY-style, I imagine the scene in “The Santa Clause” when Tim Allen shouts “Hey, you!” at the Santa perched on his roof, causing Santa to slip and fall unceremoniously onto Allen’s front lawn. Whether you’re delivering Christmas presents or replacing shingles, being up on a roof is dangerous.
That’s why it’s best to leave roof replacement to a professional roofing contractor. Not only are they experienced, they possess the proper tools for the task – when you’re replacing your roof, you not only need the materials for the new roof, you need the tools to be able to complete the task itself.
If you don’t have the proper knowledge or tools for the task, you can almost guarantee your DIY project will not look as good or be as sturdy as a professional job. Not to mention, most home warranties require that a certified roofer perform repairs, so it can end up saving money should you need any additional roof work in the future.
As comically as the plumbing profession is depicted on television and movies, there’s a lot of expertise that goes into this line of work. From broken pipes to leaks, you’ll want a professional plumber to come identify and rectify the problem.
You can easily start a plumbing DIY project believing all you have to do is go in and tighten a nut or a screw to stop a leak and end up causing water damage, and worst of all, mold growth. Much like electric work, your plumbing is also upheld by a code to ensure everything works properly.
Not only will a professional plumber know and uphold the current code, they’ll know the correct size of pipes, connections and valves for all the different places and purposes of water use in your home. Avoid harming your home and call a professional plumber.
Structural Demolition or Addition
Whether demolition or home addition, changing the existing structure of your home is no easy feat. Before you start swinging a sledgehammer, you should know that demolishing a load-bearing wall could compromise the structural integrity of your home, possibly leading to a dangerous collapse.
A professional contractor will be aware of any electrical wiring, gas or plumbing in the walls of your home before knocking anything down.
Additionally, a contractor will be aware of specific building permits you may need to obtain before you make any structural changes to your home. Plus, they’ll know the ins and outs of electrical wiring, gas lines, plumbing and window installation that go into a new addition.
It may be tempting to engage in this type of project to add to your home’s resale value. However, a project at this magnitude may compromise the structural integrity of your house and could have fatal consequences. To avoid any future problems with the frame or foundation of your home, contact an engineer or a certified contractor before you remove a wall or add a room to your house.
Erecting a Fence
Hiring a professional to erect a fence in your backyard, rather than attempting it yourself, could be the difference between enhanced curb appeal to your home and a botched DIY project.
Installing a fence is a lot more time consuming and expensive than typically perceived. You need to be able to dig holes for your posts (sometimes renting a hole auger in the process) and install a fence that rises and dips with the contours of your lawn. Not to mention, a lot of cities require specific permits to get the job done, a task that might be more complicated to achieve for the average layperson, compared to a reputable company.
Oftentimes, this is a job for a professional crew, rather than a solo weekend project. Instead of wasting your time on installing a poor fence, consider reaching out to a crew to complete this task.
Painting Your Walls or Ceilings
Painting your home may be one of the most underestimated home projects that you could undertake. You might assume that a few cans of paint, brushes, tarps and tape are the only tools you need for the task, but there’s actually a certain amount of art that goes into painting the walls of your home.
From the patience that goes into the prepping process to the detailed eye needed for fixing flaws in your walls and ceiling, there’s a lot of room for error in the painting process.
Going back to the idea of selling your home, you’ll want to present your space in the best way possible and a botched paint job can make all the difference in the way your home is perceived and sold on the market.
Consider hiring a painting professional to get the job done fast and properly.
Cutting down a tree might seem simple (anyone can swing an axe, right?) but before you go all Paul Bunyan on your trees, consider hiring a professional.
There are serious calculations that go into the landing trajectory of a falling tree. And if you get it wrong, you risk harming your car, house and power lines. A professional will calculate the height, weight and foliage of a tree to know where to cut and at what angle.
Even branch removal can be hazardous if you don’t know what you’re doing. Put away your ladder and lumberjack flannel and consider calling a professional.
Of course, every situation is unique. Perhaps you’re naturally handy or possess a foundational knowledge of home improvement projects. The important thing to remember is quality. You wouldn’t expect a paid professional to perform a mediocre repair or upgrade on your home, so the same should apply to yourself.
If you don’t have the know-how, however, there are other DIY projects you can do around the house that require less risk to the safety and integrity of your home.
Have you recently had a home DIY project go south? Tell us about it in the comments below.
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