The DIY home improvement market is booming. Thanks to events like the COVID-19 pandemic keeping people at home more and the increased availability of tools and supplies, the global market is expected to grow by nearly 5% by 2025 to well over 100 billion dollars.
Although some home improvement projects, like painting or landscaping, are easily managed by even inexperienced homeowners, other projects should always be left to the professionals. Without the proper know-how and tools, these renovations and repairs can quickly turn disastrous or even dangerous, leading to bigger and more expensive projects in the future. Here are seven projects you should leave to a professional remodeling contractor.
1. Garage Door Repair
Garage doors are designed with tension springs that, if removed or adjusted improperly, could easily come flying out and cause serious injury or potentially death. Even if you can safely manage the springs, the door itself can weigh several hundred pounds. Without the proper support and techniques, the door could come crashing down, causing serious injury.
Safety isn’t the only concern when it comes to garage door repairs. Most manufacturers will void the warranty on doors that aren’t professionally installed or repaired, leaving you out of luck if something goes wrong.
2. Roof Repairs
Much like garage doors, working up on the roof without the proper experience and tools is a dangerous proposition, and one that could void the warranty on the materials or workmanship done by a previous contractor. Roofers are trained to work on roofs safely because one step in the wrong direction could mean a serious fall or further damage.
Professional roofing contractors are trained in inspecting roofs and diagnosing problems. Without that knowledge, you run the risk of fixing the wrong problem, missing other issues that need attention, or making problems worse by performing the wrong repairs. Not to mention, if you don’t have experience working with roofing materials and tools, the workmanship may turn out sub-par, affecting the appearance and integrity of the roof.
3. Molding and Trim
Applying molding and trim to your interior spaces can go a long way toward upgrading the appearance of a room and giving it a more finished appearance. When it’s done poorly, though, it is obvious and can detract from the appearance of the room and even lower resale value.
Unless you have experience in construction, applying trim and molding is best left to a remodeling contractor. Measurements and cuts need to be precise; corners, for example, must be mitered to fit together snugly. If any part of the trim is cut or applied incorrectly, it will show, and it’s easy to waste materials (and increase costs) trying to achieve the perfect results. Hiring an experienced finish carpenter helps ensure the trim is correctly applied, without gaps, rough cuts, or other flaws that affect its appearance.
4. Installing Specific Appliances
Installing appliances like range hoods or under-counter dishwashers will require a professional; in fact, because they require both electrical and plumbing connections, it might even be illegal for a homeowner without the proper license to install it on their own. Making mistakes when installing these appliances can be dangerous and leave your home vulnerable to flooding or fire.
Hiring a contractor can also a good idea when mounting heavy appliances or electronics like televisions on the wall. Without precise measurements and the proper techniques, you could damage the wall or the appliance itself. Proper installation requires using a stud finder to locate the strongest part of the wall, using the correct anchors, and taking care while drilling to ensure you don’t hit any plumbing or electrical lines. If you have any doubt at all, call a contractor for help.
5. Air Conditioning Installation and Repair
Most homeowners can easily install a window or portable air conditioner on their own, but for central air or ductless AC, professional installation is a must. Again, it’s against building code to DIY this type of installation. A professional will also ensure that the unit is properly installed in the correct location and all the electrical connections are secure and correct. The same applies to air conditioner repairs. Unless you know what you’re doing, you can make the problem worse, or create new problems that weren’t already there.
6. Sanding Floors
Renting a floor sander and refinishing floors yourself may seem like a simple task. However, if you’ve never used the machine before, it can go wrong very quickly. Floor sanders are powerful, and if you aren’t experienced or lack the strength to control them, you’ll be left with an uneven finish at best. At worst, you could send the sander careening into a wall or cause injury.
7. Removing a Wall
“Open concept” spaces incorporating living, dining, and cooking areas are one of the hottest trends in real estate, but think twice before you start knocking down walls. Making any structural changes without an evaluation by a professional contractor could spell big trouble, especially if that wall you remove is load-bearing.
Even if the wall can be removed without causing the roof to cave in, taking out walls on your own could cause damage to your electrical wiring or plumbing if it’s not done correctly. Hiring a professional ensures that the wall can be removed without major damage. But if something does go wrong, you can still file a claim for the damage — something that isn’t an option when you do the work yourself.
8. Heavy Equipment
If a project involves using heavy equipment like bulldozers, front-end loaders, or cranes, leave that work to the professionals. Unless you know exactly what you’re doing, you can cause major damage to your home. A contractor knows the proper safety procedures and protocols, as well as how to avoid hitting water lines, buried electrical lines, and gas lines.
How to Determine When to Avoid DIY
Ultimately, determining which projects you can tackle on your own and which will require a professional comes down to your knowledge and skills, as well as the rules about who can perform certain types of work. Before you start planning your project, consider whether any of the following apply.
If your construction skills aren’t advanced, hire a pro or work with someone who has more knowledge. If you think you might want to take on DIY projects in the future, build your skills by reading about construction, watching how-to videos online, and trying your hand at simple projects, like installing shelves or building garden planters. As your experience increases, you can start taking on more advanced projects.
DIY projects almost always take longer than you expect. If you don’t have the time to thoroughly complete a project or you’re in a rush, hiring a professional can help you get the job done more quickly.
Lack of Tools
If you don’t have all the tools for a specific project on hand, you’ll need to borrow or buy them, which can drive up costs. If you don’t know how to use the tools, you increase the risk of injury or errors in the projects. Pros already have all the tools they need and know how to use them.
Construction accidents can cause anything from minor scrapes and bruises to life-threatening injuries. Often, DIYers are injured because they don’t have the tools or know-how required for the task. Professionals can still sustain injuries, but it’s much less likely.
Most municipalities prohibit homeowners from doing any major electrical work, especially if it involves the main electrical panel. The rules vary even within the same state, and there are significant risks that come with working with electricity, so unless it’s a simple task like changing a switch, leave it to the pros.
The same rules that govern electricity apply to plumbing. Major changes or repairs to plumbing require a professional plumber to ensure it’s done properly and up to building code.
When you decide to hire a contractor, ask for recommendations from people you trust, and do your homework regarding their experience, reputation, and policies. Don’t choose based on price alone, but read the fine print and look for a reliable contractor that will complete your project on time and provide quality work. When you do, you can be confident that the work was done properly, and that you and your family are safe.
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