There are things that everyone should be able to learn and do around their house, like fixing a leaky faucet, installing a new light fixture, or patching a hole in the wall. Most of us are prone to electrocuting ourselves, falling, or generally causing more harm than good when it comes to some of the more complex home improvement projects. Here are some you probably want to hire a professional to do:
1. Adding/Installing Windows
Replacing a window might not seem like a big deal; after all it’s just replacing something that’s square-ish with something else that is square-ish, right? However replacing a window requires specialized tools that you’d probably have to rent or purchase, and methods not easily learned by a quick trip to YouTube. Installing a window has all the difficulties just mentioned, on top of minor demolition and frame construction. Instead, have a pro do the job that will warranty it, and you’ll thank yourself later.
There are a few plumbing jobs that are safe for DIYers—swapping out faucet parts, snaking a toilet, etc.—but for anything more serious, save yourself the headache and call in a real plumber. Plumbers can be expensive, but there is a justified cost behind that price tag: knowledge. Plumbers are trained for years on the job and required to not only know how to fix or install something, but have the knowledge of plumbing codes that will keep your home functioning safely and properly.
3. Roofing a Second Story
If you’ve never seen an episode of America’s Funniest Home Videos or Home Improvement, this is directed at you. There is a reason every show of AFV has a minimum of one roofing clip, and that is because it’s the best way our homes can get back at us for everything we do to them. They are high, at an angle, often made of material that is easily slipped on, and have no mercy and definitely no safety net. A single story home is possible to do safely, but if there is a chance you’ll fall more than 15 feet, leave it to professionals that have the right equipment (harnesses in particular, among other things).
4. Tree Removal
I had a friend once who decided they would remove a tree from their backyard, unassisted by a professional. They were quoted around $1000, which I’ll admit is mighty steep, and they thought so too. Instead they bought a couple harnesses, a ton of rope, pulleys, and chainsaws and then rented a wood-chipper, which cost them just under a grand. The trouble was that, even though they saved themselves a couple bucks, it took them no less than a month to finally get the majority of the tree removed, and they were still left with a stump, which can be a couple more weekends just to remove.
Ok, so this is admittedly the most fun you’ll have doing construction, and definitely takes the least amount of skill and time, but you shouldn’t do it. Let me rephrase that, you shouldn’t do it like your favorite home make-over host does, carelessly smashing through walls with a sledge hammer. If you’re just removing drywall, go for it, but please, please don’t use a sledgehammer. To do this safely you really need to be careful and go slowly to make sure you don’t damage anything important, like part of the frame, electrical wiring, plumbing, or duct work. If it’s anything that is a part of the structural integrity of your home, definitely let a pro handle it, even if it does cost a bit more.
Katie White is a writer and handywoman from DIY Mother who is passionate about self-reliance and conservation. She takes pride in making her home a more sustainable and comfortable place for her husband and two kids. She lives in Dallas.