Many homeowners jump at the chance to do their own home maintenance and repair after all, who doesn’t want to save money?
Know Your Limitations
DIY books and online video tutorials promise to turn everyone into a pro, so it’s no wonder enthusiastic homeowners rush out to buy the tools and materials to do their own projects. But every house and every situation is different, so those books and videos can’t address every issue you could encounter, and if you make a wrong decision, you could face some daunting and expensive consequences.
Installing your own carpeting, hardwood, or ceramic tile may seem like an accessible DIY project, but it’s not as easy as it looks. You could run into rotted subfloor under the old flooring, or your measurements could be off by just a bit, leaving you with a floor that looks bad—or worse, one that’s not structurally sound.
Digging Without Calling First
You’ve finally found the time to install that fence, but if you hit a buried utility line when you dig that first posthole, you could end up paying thousands to have the line repaired. This is an avoidable mistake: A few days before you plan to dig, call 811 (Dig Safe), and they’ll dispatch local utility workers who will mark the locations of buried lines at no charge.
Installing a Gas Appliance
Gas appliances, such as stoves and water heaters, must be installed by a licensed plumber who can connect the gas line and then test it to ensure it doesn’t leak. A leaking gas line can ignite and cause a fire or explosion, so don’t even think about installing a gas appliance yourself.
Forgetting to Pull a Permit
You may be handy enough to remove your home’s old leaky windows and install new replacement windows, but many local building authorities require that you pull a permit before undertaking even small remodeling projects. Failure to do so could result in a large fine, and, in some cases, you may be forced to remove any completed projects that were not approved.
If you’re familiar with basic wiring, you can probably replace an old electrical outlet with a new one because the wires are color-coded and new outlets come with a wiring diagram. Installing new wiring—for instance, putting in an outlet where there hadn’t been one before—is a different matter. If you make a mistake, your faulty wiring could cause a fire. Also, always check with your local building department to see if a permit is required for new wiring.
Opening Up Floor Space
You’ve been itching to take out that wall between the dining room and living room for years, but don’t do it. Some walls are safe to remove—for example, partition walls that don’t carry weight—but if the wall you remove turns out to be a load-bearing wall, you could cause major structural damage to your house that could cost tens of thousands of dollars to repair.
Jacking Up the House
Houses tend to settle over time, and when they do, they can often be lifted back to their original position and then braced in place. Although house jacks are available at home improvement stores, this is not a job for a DIYer. If you don’t know what you’re doing, you could crack walls or cause further structural damage. Definitely call in a pro for this one.