We all want to save a buck or two and that sometimes means tackling home repair or improvement projects by ourselves or “do it yourself”. But, are there some things that we should leave to the professionals? While you might not need a permit for most of these projects, some of them are a little bit tricky and can actually be dangerous if not performed correctly. Here are 10 Home Improvement Projects You Should Never DIY.
#1. Removing chipped paint if the home was built prior to 1978.
Chances are that homes built prior to 1978 have some form of lead paint on the walls. It could be covered up with several layers of non-lead paint but, if you’re chipping away at it, those paint chips can release toxins into the air. This is even more hazardous if you have small children. You never know when those paint chips could be ingested or inhaled, and it could cause a significant health risk to those living in the house. It’s best to have this removed by a professional or simply sealed and repainted.
#2. Bathroom plumbing issues.
Even if you think you know a little bit about plumbing, you can never be too sure. Recently, a friend of mine decided to replace an upstairs bathroom faucet. A simple project but because it was not installed properly, the family came home to a completely flooded house. Six months of renovations and a major insurance claim later, the house had to be completely remodeled. It’s best to leave these plumbing issues to a professional.
#3. Fixing or replacing roof shingles.
While it might seem like an easy task to replace a few missing shingles, if you do so improperly, you could have major issues with the roof and the interior of your house. This could cause leaks in the attic, mold, and mildew, and water draining behind siding instead of into the gutter.
#4. Replacing electrical fixtures or panels.
Unless you are a licensed electrician, leave this type of work up to the professionals. An electrical panel can have a lot of issues and if anything is done improperly, even one small wire out of place, this could cause a fire in the house. This can be a tricky project so if you are timid when it comes to electrical issues at all, leave this to the professionals.
#5. Repairing drywall.
While this might not cause major health or safety issues, hanging drywall and skin coding does take skill. If you want a flawless look, leave this to the pros.
#6. Replacing windows.
I don’t know a lot of people that replace their own windows, and that’s probably a good thing. It may seem like a straightforward job but errors or imperfections when installing windows could lead to disastrous effects such as mold, a loss of energy, and could cause leaks on the interior of the walls.
#7. Replacing an electric stove with a natural gas or propane stove.
It’s fun to replace outdated appliances with the newest and latest in efficiency and style but if you’re going from an electric stove or even an electric dryer to a natural gas or propane appliance, leave this to the professionals. You may not know the right orifice to use, the right size line, and you could cause major issues down the line. Plus, depending on where you live, this may require a permit.
#8. Expanding a basement.
Again, very few people choose to tackle this extensive of a job on their own, even those with some construction experience. It’s best to leave this major remodel to the professionals. You want to hire a contractor to ensure that everything is up to code, the basement expansions are executed carefully, and you prevent any leaks or further issues in the future.
#9. Repairing, replacing, or installing an HVAC unit.
Just because you were a pro in installing that window air-conditioning unit, doesn’t mean that you can take on an entire HVAC system. Most conversions need a permit and a professional will understand all the materials necessary for the size of the house and will be careful to use the right chemical refrigerants because the smallest error can release toxic pollutants into the air.
#10. Replacing or installing a deck.
Again, unless you are a contractor, leave this to the professionals. There are certain regulations and requirements for support and stability when building a deck or raised patio. This will need to be a permit job and building codes will likely require a licensed professional to complete the job.
DIY can be fun as long as you keep it safe and within certain building codes. Simple items like replacing an outlet as long as the electrical box switch has been turned off, re-caulking or resealing windows, doors, and bathroom fixtures, simple hardware replacement and even door replacement are all items that can be easily done by a typical homeowner. But anything that messes with the structure or stability of the house, safety, or energy efficiency, should be done by a professional.