It is challenging to be an incredibly handy or "do-it-yourself" person, especially when making time to tackle projects around your home. Doing projects yourself is usually more of a budget-conscious option. However, certain projects aren't worth touching, despite the perceived financial incentives of tackling them yourself. The key is not to let your DIY dreams get ahead of you.
DIY is an excellent way to show off your creativity and skill while using a bit of elbow grease. It’s much easier to manage your time when it comes to doing little projects around the home, however, when it comes to more intricate or extensive projects, we don’t recommend tackling them on your own. The main reason for our recommendation is safety. Certain projects require specialized tools and experience to complete safely, and sometimes they even require licensing to complete.
Another thing to consider when trying to save money is the risk of doing something that may cost you more in the long run. In our 20+ years’ experience there have been times when we have been called in to fix what someone started to DIY and have to work backwards before moving forwards with the project. It’s not an ideal situation for the homeowner or for us.
Permitting may also be required for your project and knowledge of building and safety codes comes in handy to not have to call inspections multiple times in order to progress the project.
We urge you to consider a few things before taking on a project yourself: can the project cause you harm (thinking of: high ladders, hazardous materials, electrical complications, etc.)? Can the project cause your home harm (thinking of spills, plumbing complications, etc)? It’s best to consider these questions before moving forward. Sometimes it’s just not worth the risk. Another thing to consider is your future home value. When your home is appraised or inspected, the inspector will be able to tell which items were done by the homeowner if not done properly.
Here are some of the top projects to avoid doing yourself:
1. Sanding and Finishing Floors
Sanding and finishing flooring takes years of experience to learn and decades to perfect. It is not for the beginner skill set and various issues can occur when trying to sand and stain yourself. This is an area where it could cost you more doing it yourself, rather than hiring a professional. So skip DIY with this and hire a professional from the get-go to avoid headaches and additional costs.
Sheetrock isn't necessarily dangerous, but it certainly is detailed work that takes time to learn and patience to finish smoothly. Lumpy, bumpy walls are not attractive and often you can see those bumps at night or when the weather is cloudy. Drywall tape can be a bit tricky and when not applied and covered properly, it will ripple and peel. That’s why we are choosing to find a professional for drywall and finishing.
3. Don't Go Too Far With Plumbing
MW Burke’s owner, Matthew, has the best saying for plumbing work. “You’ll find issues with electrical work immediately, but plumbing…plumbing wakes you at night.” That is why we work with professionals who are skilled with plumbing or licensed plumbers for more intricate projects and we do not recommend doing plumbing work yourself. It’s not fun to start a plumbing project, then realize you’re in over your head…quite literally. Emergency plumbing calls are pricey, so we recommend finding a professional from the start for your plumbing needs.
4. Structural Work and Wall Demolition
A lot of people get excited about making more space and creating open concepts. It’s easy to picture what your space would look like with walls down between rooms, but what is not always considered is what is behind that wall, and the purpose of that item behind the wall. Demo work can be incredibly satisfying, it's not something you want to start doing without experience. While it doesn't take much expertise to break down a wall, you need the experience to know whether or not your wall is essential and what you may be hitting behind it (electrical, plumbing, beams, etc.). In addition, knowing if your wall is load bearing is essential before removal. Most times, this is found with a thorough inspection from a professional and sometimes a structural engineer may be needed when it comes to plans and permitting for keeping the upper level or roof stabilized in the new floorplan.
5. Electrical Wiring
While minor things like installing lights may be simple, you don't want to get too far into electrical DIY unless you’re a licensed electrician. There is a possibility of harm to both you and your home while doing electrical work. You want to avoid this at all costs and hiring a professional is the way to go about changing regular lights to recessed, moving electrical outlets, moving wires or adding items to your electrical panel.
6. Countertops & Heavy Lifting
It's always best to avoid doing any home projects yourself if they require you to lift extremely heavy things, including countertops. Both manmade and natural stones are extremely heavy and the pro’s often use equipment to lift them. Please don't injure yourself trying to lift any heavy materials.
Tile work may seem easy, but can be a complicated task, depending on the surface you’re tiling to and the pattern you have chosen. Mistakes doing tile are extremely noticeable and can be costly to fix, as sometimes a professional will have to go backwards on the project in order to move forward. That’s why we think tile work is a good addition to this list.
8. Scraping Paint
If your house was built before 1978, this pertains to you! It may seem simple to scrape paint from different areas of your home, but there are serious health hazards to consider. Lead based paints were used pre 1978 and scraping up this paint, even if it’s been under layers of newer paint, can be hazardous to your health and poisonous if inhaled. Finding a Lead Certified individual to complete this task is the safest approach.
This subject combines both personal and safety concerns. Roofing, when done properly, is accomplished with safety equipment that ties the worker off to the home to avoid falls. Additionally, if shingles are installed improperly, water damage may occur on the top level, or attic, of your home as well as behind siding, which will also void any manufacturer warranties on your exterior home products.
10. Gas Work
Gas that runs to your home is both flammable and poisonous. Most accidents that occur in the home from gas work is from improper installation, which can lead to serious injury and even death. A license and permits are required for projects where gas lines are moved, so this one is definitely best left to a professional.