DIY is fabulous, but before embarking on a new project, ask yourself if hiring a pro to handle the job would save you time and money.
Step 1: Write out every step involved and each tool you need for the job.
Step 2. Consider the time needed to complete the project
Even if you have the know-how and all the equipment—do you have the time? If you have five hours a week, and it’s a 20 hour project, that’s a month of living with a mess. Definitely weigh the pros and cons before ripping into a wall or breaking out the paint.
Here are seven times it makes sense to skip straight to a pro.
Unlike Wile E. Coyote, you don’t have endless lives. So unless you’re a knowledgeable electrician—don’t mess with anything beyond the basics. Any kind of electrical rewiring, tinkering with an electric fireplace, hanging new lights, installing new fixtures…definitely call in a pro. It’s not worth the shock.
Interior house paint is a DIY dream. If you like that sort of thing, you can change up your decor look in an instant with a new coat of paint. Outside is a different story. There’s scraping and weatherproofing to worry about. There’s priming and repairs. If your home has precarious positioning that calls for ladders in unstable places, you’re just asking for trouble. Stop messing around and get a professional painter on the job. Same goes for interior if you’re not as strapping as you once were, or if your ceilings are crazy high. A poppy colored accent wall is not worth a broken leg.
Insulating Your Home
It’s messy work. If you’ve got the skills, and access to the appropriate equipment, have at it. If you are replacing old insulation, be aware that most is fiberglass based and can be nasty on the skin. Wear protective clothing and a mask. Or, you know, hire a pro who will be in and out in a day, removing all the old insulation. Your call.
Put down the chainsaw, and back slowly away from the tree. Unless you have mad arborist blood flowing through your veins—you can do yourself, and your property, some real damage. During the winter months it’s tempting to bring down those branches that go wild in the storms, but without the proper precautions, you may be worse off. Call in a tree trimming and removal pro to handle it safely.
Remodels are a doozy. Before ripping out your bathroom cabinets, ask yourself those two questions above: Do I have the know-how and tools? And, Do I have the time? Even though home makeovers look easy on TV, they involve a lot more than a 30 minute episode. Absolutely involve a professional contractor if you’re doing more than aesthetic changes inside. Any type of addition or major change to your structure will involve permits. Do yourself (and your relationships with friends and family) a favor and farm it out.
You can totally plunge the toilet or unclog the shower drain (but if it’s too gross, don’t worry, a professional plumber will do that too). But draw the DIY line at larger plumbing tasks that involve things like putting in a new toilet, shower, or sink. Definitely rely on a pro for projects that involve digging, you don’t want any burst water pipes and they can navigate this for you.
Sealing the Basement
If your basement is leaking, it’s probably really tempting to go the cheapest, easiest route and apply a waterproof sealer. Before you do, get a professional diagnosis. You may have to have the external foundation treated. A pro can identify the real source of a leak before you haul everything off your basement floor and seal it with a treatment that may not work.
DIY, like whiskey, is best undertaken with caution. So stay safe, stay sane, and call in a professional if it’s a bigger task than is reasonable.