To do-it-yourself… or not

We live in a  “neck-of-the-woods” where budgets are always a consideration. So  it’s easy to see why doing-it-youself  often the first thing homeowners consider. However, there is a reason that professionals exist, and there are many situations in which DIY should never be attempted. You could end up costing yourself more in the long run, or permanently damaging yourself or your home.

Follow these simple guidelines and you’ll stay out of hot water!

Safe to DIY

There are many projects – mostly cosmetic repairs – that you can handle yourself, and a few regular household tasks, like unclogging sinks and toilets are very doable.  DIY projects should be limited to simple repairs such as painting and simple carpentry tasks were skill is less important than labor.  For repairs involving risk or danger, the risks are definitely NOT worth the risk.

A great question to ask yourself is “what’s the worst that could happen if it goes wrong.”  The answer should be something you can live with.

Take a Class Before Attempting

If you don’t have the proper training, it’s easy to get in over your head.  Knowing HOW to use the tools of the trade, as well as knowing WHICH tools to use for the project, is very important.  Simply put, if you don’t know what tools are required and how to use those tools, do not attempt the project.


“Very simply, never [attempt DIY] when you have no idea how to run a table saw or another conventional equipment that is the tool of the trade. However, one can learn and many improvement stores run courses on such. Even our local Community College offers courses that could teach people how to safely run any conventional tool to meet a need of a small scale project.”

Educating yourself before starting a project can help you avoid the biggest mistakes DIY-ers make, and also keep you from getting in over your head.

If you’re looking for advice on DIY problems, the Internet is also a great resource. Nobody knows that better than expert Greg Chick:

“Having a DIY site with 2 million views and thousands of questions & comments on “what do I do now”, I think I am qualified to say most people know less than they should when they start. The DIY stores “sell” the “no tools required” type thing and people think that since the stores sell the parts, that they should be able to install them correctly. This is not true. … Unknowing diy’ers cause themselves great expense.”

There are many resources available to would-be DIY-ers. You just have to be willing to do the research and learn ahead of time.

Never DIY

But no matter how handy you are, there are some tasks that are always better left to the professionals. These are the high-risk jobs that require licenses and training, and could end quite badly if something is done wrong. Most electrical, window/roof installation and extermination work, as well as more complicated plumbing and anything to do with gas lines should be handled by a licensed professional. Expert Ed Burris illustrates the danger with this pointed comment:

“I know lots of homeowners would like to put in their own water heater. However I don’t suggest it. You have to connect gas lines which without the proper knowledge of using the right materials and gas detectors your house could blow up.”

If the worst case scenario outcome for the project is somebody getting killed or your house blowing up, that definitely isn’t a project you should attempt to DIY.

Even if you don’t think the risks are that high, Greg Chick has another important bit of advice about why you should think twice before DIY-ing:

“The homeowner should do some things, and not other things. Yes, draw the line on gas appliances. Why? If something explodes, the insurance Co. can refuse to cover losses because the homeowner had no place doing the job.”

Messing up a DIY project could cost you a lot more than just hiring a professional if you mess up.

Finally, expert Nancy of Baywolf Dalton, Inc. has some parting advice:

“Some people want to tackle DIY projects because they think they can’t afford to have the work done by a professional. My advice is to get quotations from a professional, well-established company that specializes in whatever you need replaced/upgraded or fixed. … All of us have different skill levels and experience and in some cases a homeowner might be able to do the work, but my experience has been that once you understand the costs involved

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