For the price-conscious homeowner, DIY might seem like a great way to save yourself some money on home improvement and repair projects. After all, professional repairs can sometimes seem prohibitively expensive, and the cost of professional repairs around the house can add up quickly. It’s easy to see why some homeowners are tempted to attempt repairs themselves. However, there is a reason that professionals exist, and there are many situations in which DIY should never be attempted. You could end up costing yourself more in the long run, or permanently damaging yourself or your home.
With help from our experts, we’ve put together all of the Do’s and Dont’s of DIY. By outlining what’s safe to DIY and what’s always a bad idea, we hope to help homeowners avoid the biggest DIY messes. Whether it’s a class in power tools or a licensed professional, we can help you figure out what you need for that next big home improvement project. Follow these simple guidelines and you’ll stay out of hot water!
Safe to DIY
There are many projects that are safe to do yourself–mostly cosmetic repairs, but also a few regular household tasks, like unclogging sinks or toilets. Expert Kris of House-BuyingTips.com says it simply:
“‘Do-it-yourself’ should be limited to simple home repairs such as carpentry, painting, and other tasks where skill is less important than labor. … For cosmetic repairs and tasks, the risks are minimal. For repairs involving risk or danger, the risks are definitely NOT worth it.”
Before taking on a task, ask yourself what’s the worst that could happen if it goes wrong. The answer should be something you could live with.
There are definitely some projects where DIY is the better option. 2 Thumbs Up Plumbing and Remodeling adds, “The curb appeal of the home is very important for the repairs to have the home owner’s touch.” It’s your house, and no one is going to know what you want better than you do.
Take a Class Before Attempting
If you don’t have the proper training, it can be easy to get in over your head on a DIY project. Knowing how to use the tools of the trade, as well as knowing which tools you need for each project, is of the utmost importance. Expert Tanya Stock of Green Goddess said it best in her comment:
“Very simply, never [attempt DIY] when you have no idea how to run a table saw or another conventional equipment that is the tool of the trade. However, one can learn and many improvement stores run courses on such. Even our local Community College offers courses that could teach people how to safely run any conventional tool to meet a need of a small scale project.”
Educating yourself before starting a project can help you avoid the biggest mistakes DIY-ers make, and also keep you from getting in over your head.
If you’re looking for advice on DIY problems, the Internet is also a great resource. Nobody knows that better than expert Greg Chick:
“Having a DIY advice.com site with 2 million views and thousands of questions & comments on “what do I do now”, I think I am qualified to say most people know less than they should when they start. The DIY stores “sell” the “no tools required” type thing and people think that since the stores sell the parts, that they should be able to install them correctly. This is not true. … Unknowing diy’ers cause themselves great expense.”
There are many resources available to would-be DIY-ers. You just have to be willing to do the research and learn ahead of time.
But no matter how handy you are, there are some tasks that are always better left to the professionals. These are the high-risk jobs that require licenses and training, and could end quite badly if something is done wrong. Most electrical, window/roof installation and extermination work, as well as more complicated plumbing and anything to do with gas lines should be handled by a licensed professional. Expert Ed Burris illustrates the danger with this pointed comment:
“I know lots of homeowners would like to put in their own water heater. However I don’t suggest it. You have to connect gas lines which without the proper knowledge of using the right materials and gas detectors your house could blow up.”
If the worst case scenario outcome for the project is somebody getting killed or your house blowing up, that definitely isn’t a project you should attempt to DIY.
Even if you don’t think the risks are that high, Greg Chick has another important bit of advice about why you should think twice before DIY-ing:
“The homeowner should do some things, and not other things. Yes, draw the line on gas appliances. Why? If something explodes, the insurance Co. can refuse to cover losses because the homeowner had no place doing the job.”
Messing up a DIY project could cost you a lot more than just hiring a professional if you mess up.
Finally, expert Nancy of Baywolf Dalton, Inc. has some parting advice:
“Some people want to tackle DIY projects because they think they can’t afford to have the work done by a professional. My advice is to get quotations from a professional, well-established company that specializes in whatever you need replaced/upgraded or fixed. … All of us have different skill levels and experience and in some cases a homeowner might be able to do the work, but my experience has been that once you understand the costs involved most people will opt for the professional.