The title to this article might be misleading. Just about any DIY project in the world can be—shockingly enough—done by yourself. But there are a few projects you should go into with the know-how first.
Its best to be 100% confident with your abilities before you attempt these on your own; when in doubt, these bad boys are worth calling in the professionals for.
Yes, all electrical work counts as one project. Electrical work can be incredibly dangerous and its best to avoid it altogether when possible. Electricians are trained to work with live wires, and even they have had more than their fair share of electrical shocks.
Electricity is not something to mess around with—a wrong move while youre trying to re-wire a socket or install a new ceiling fan could cause you unnecessary pain, stress, and/or an electrical fire that could put your home and life in danger.
Feel free to replace outlet covers and flip breakers, but when it comes to working with the power itself dont think you can do it yourself without taking necessary precautions or consulting the professionals.
Besides, almost all municipalities require a permit, city inspections, and a licensed electrician for these jobs. Sidestepping the building code might void your homeowners insurance where the item modified is concerned.
Installing a Bathtub
Simple plumbing work like fixing a leaky faucet, switching out a shower head, or unclogging a toilet is probably within anyones area of expertise, but other plumbing projects arent so simple.
Installing a bathtub is one of them. Just because you managed to install your own toilet last week doesnt mean that a bathtub will be as simple.
Its a complicated procedure that involves elements of both construction and plumbing, requires applying mortar and making sure the tub is level…and its all done in a tight, cramped space.
If youre at all hesitant, call in the professionals. Theyre trained to do this, and it will take them a fraction of the time it would take you to complete the same work.
Drain Cleaning and Repairs
Some methods of cleaning clogged drains will work the first time, such as homemade drain cleaners and plungers. But what about when none of the simple methods work?
Rather than taking apart the plumbing system under the sink to locate the issue, call the plumber. Working with water is always tricky, and seemingly small issues can lead to big problems. Clogged drains can be caused by any number of things, including cold weather.
So this winter, especially if you live somewhere cold like Northern Idaho or Calgary, proper drain cleaning is essential to keep your plumbing functional.
Whats more, plumbers will notice other issues that you dont know to look for if youre doing the work yourself, such as pipes corroding from the inside.
Corroding pipes can burst in severe cold, and if youre doing all your plumbing work yourself, you may not notice the warning signs like a seasoned plumber would.
Roofing, especially on second-story houses, is dangerous for the DIY enthusiast. It might be tempting to crawl up the ladder and replace a few missing shingles or patch up a leak, but one wrong step could mean a long fall and unnecessary hospital (or funeral) bills.
Roof repair isnt for the amateur, and since roofing doesnt need to be repaired often anyway, its best to get someone who knows what theyre doing and can do it safely.
Also, consider that locating the source of the leak is not an exact science; it takes years of experience to develop the intuition. For example, the leak may manifest in your bedroom, but it might originate somewhere near the ridge where the water travels down a roof truss until gravity compels the drops to fall on the ceiling.
Knocking Down a Wall
A little bit of demolition might sound like fun, especially to teenagers grumbling about being roped into helping with home improvement projects.
But think twice before you start knocking down that wall to open up the kitchen—its more complicated than taking a few swings with a hammer. There is trim to take off, studs to remove, and a massive mess to clean up afterwards.
More importantly, there could be electrical wires, water pipes, and gas pipes to work around, and if anything goes wrong you could end up with a very dangerous (or expensive) situation.
Its always better to be safe when you dont know whats inside the walls—call in the people who have the tools and know-how to work around potential hazards.
It is also prudent to consider that it might be a load-bearing wall where the ceiling joists will need to be supported during renovation and then a header will need to be installed.
Rule of Thumb: If youre at all hesitant about a project youre facing, dont do it. More difficult projects will take you much more time and stress than theyre worth. Some mistakes are easily fixed—others can cost you a lot of money in additional repairs if theyre done wrong.
Other projects can be dangerous. So when you dont feel completely confident in your own abilities, put down the tools and pick up the phone. The professionals are worth it.
Sam Pollock is an avid blogger who has studied construction management. When hes not busy blogging for companies like Alberta Water Service, he likes to do home improvement projects or read up on current marketing trends.