To DIY or not to DIY—that is the perpetual handyman’s question. On one hand, fixing something yourself saves you time and money, and there’s nothing like the empowerment you feel from knowing you can fend for yourself. On the other hand, some projects are too risky or just downright dangerous when attempted by amateurs.
DIY disasters can cause thousands of dollars of damage—not
to mention bodily harm! And repair work performed without the right license or
permit may void a manufacturer’s warranties or insurance, in some cases. So
when is it best to leave it to the experts? If you need help with one of the
jobs below, you’re definitely better off calling for some professional backup.
Replacing a loose shingle is one thing. Reroofing your entire home is another. Roofing projects aren’t just dangerous; an improper roof installation can cause massive structural and property damage. Roofers have specialized equipment and processes to transport heavy materials—and they are definitely heavy. A square foot of asphalt shingles can weigh over 240 pounds, in some cases. You’ll also avoid leaks, blow-offs and other hazards if you hire a pro. Trust me, you don’t want to be bailing all your possessions out of the lake that’s just sprung up in your living room.
Not only is it unwise to DIY electrical projects; it’s also illegal in many places, it’s illegal! But you’ll have more than property violations to worry about if you put in bad wiring. According to FEMA, electrical malfunction is the third leading cause of residential fires, and many of these can be contributed to faulty electrical work. And if you do wind up with a fire, the insurance company can use your unlicensed handiwork as grounds to deny your claim. Yikes!
A gas range may give you a better sear on your scallop, but don’t try to install one yourself! Gas lines are extremely dangerous—leaks can cause dizziness and illness, or even an explosion, in the worst cases. Improper repair may even lead to carbon monoxide poisoning or deadly fires. Anything touching your gas lines should be handled by a technician called out by the gas company. Anything less is just asking for trouble.
Again, it’s the scope of this project that determines its feasibility. Trimming a few low-hanging branches is fine, but removing large, high-up foliage takes professional know-how. Experts understand how to remove trees so that they don’t cause property damage, bodily harm, or problems with power lines. And they have the right equipment to get the job done safely. Timber!
There’s a reason it takes years to become an architect. Houses are a lot more complicated than they look, so you don’t want to go knocking down walls willy-nilly. As eager as you may be to bust out the sledgehammer, consult with a professional first. A demolition expert will also tell you if a wall houses major plumbing and electrical lines. That way, you can avoid unintentional disaster down the line.
Even if you feel like you can handle a large home repair on your own, there’s no shame in consulting with an expert first. Even experienced contractors get a second opinion from time to time, so you’re in the best company. After all, that’s why the pros are there!
Erin Vaughan is a blogger, gardener and aspiring homeowner. She currently resides in Austin, TX where she writes full time for Modernize, with the goal of empowering homeowners with the expert guidance and educational tools they need to take on big home projects with confidence.