When to Forget DIY Home Improvements and Call in the Professionals

With a seemingly never-ending stream of DIY and home improvement shows showing up on TV (and let’s not even get into YouTube) trying to convince the average homeowner that yes, they too can renovate an entire kitchen in just a weekend all by themselves with just the aid of a few how to videos or TV show segments it’s little wonder that some homeowners are getting a bit too carried away with the whole DIY weekend warrior thing.

Especially if the home they are improving is one they are planning to sell.

Who wants to invest a lot of cash into a home they will no longer be living in? Therefore making as many DIY repairs and improvements as possible seems to make sense.

And there are indeed a number of home improvement tasks that are quite suited to the DIY concept that may be a fulfilling way to while away a weekend, but there are just as many that are most certainly not. So when should you pick up the phone and call a good licensed contractor instead of picking up a hammer and attempting a project yourself?

Here are some basic guidelines:

(1) Anything That Calls for Electrical Work

Common sense should tell the average homeowner that messing with electricity is a bad idea, but all too often, buoyed by the cheery man on the TV who made it look so easy, they give it a go anyway. It’s only installing a couple of ceiling fans, what could go wrong?

Well, lots actually. Taking the ceiling fan project as an example, let’s start with the tools. A ceiling fan is a big heavy thing that, if it falls on someone’s head, is going to cause some major damage. A licensed contractor has a toolbox filled with the best professional grade power tools. You, on the other hand, have your father’s old drill and a couple of random screwdrivers. Which set of tools is likely to be able to get that fan properly mounted and which is likely to cause a big mess and not too much else? We think you know the answer by now.

(2) Anything That Calls for Plumbing Work

It looks easy enough to replace a toilet or plumb in a washing machine so why waste money on hiring someone to do it for you? Well maybe because as easy as it looks, plumbing is tricky stuff and the ‘penalties’ for getting it wrong often, as far too many homeowners have found out the hard way, include a no longer functioning, or worse still, flooded bathroom, a broken appliance and a far more expensive visit from a water damage remediation company to dry out your home before mould and mildew sets in. A basic rule of thumb, if the job is bigger than replacing a showerhead, call in the pros.

(3) Anything That Involves Expensive Materials

Inspired by all of those home improvement TV shows and magazines – as well as blogs like this – let’s say you’ve decided that you really want to make a showpiece of your living room walls by hanging some expensive, high-quality wallpaper. You pay the $35+ a roll for it and since it appears to be the prepasted variety you decide to save cash, skip hiring the professional paper hanger and do it yourself.

The first time you accidentally stick your paste brush right through a big long piece of this expensive wallpaper you cringe a bit but put it down to bad luck. The second time you curse a bit. The third time you hurl the brush at the cat and really start to get upset. Add to that the fact that when you can get the wallpaper pasted up properly matching that fancy pattern right – or even actually getting the paper up straight – is a heck of a lot harder than it looked and soon you’ve wasted three rolls of paper and are sitting in a defeated sticky pile on the floor mentally totting up your losses and it’s not pretty.

We’ve heard of worse than that even. Like the homeowner who invested more than a few dollars in a big granite countertop but then dropped – and smashed – it trying to install it himself. Ouch.

Saving money is good, we’re not going to argue that. And DIY can be fun. Just use some common sense and call in a pro when the job at hand exceeds both your ability and safety, especially because having a professional come in to fix your DIY mess is always going to cost you a lot more than if you had hired them to do the work in the first place and it will stall your home sale process too.

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