Which DIY projects should a novice avoid?

Answered by Brett ~ March 5, 2012 ~ No Comments

We are tackling a home renovation right now (kitchen, bathrooms, siding, and flooring). Although we want to do most of the work ourselves, we know that there are some tasks that we should not complete ourselves. Any advice about which DIY projects we should avoid.

Julie ~ Burlington, VT

Brett Kulina

Julie, perhaps you have already learned one of the most important lessons about major DIY home renovations-that realistically you will need to hire some professional help for certain portions of your project. While it may be obvious that licensed electricians, plumbers, and engineers can be essential for many major remodeling projects, keep in mind that experienced sheet rock installers or counter top fabricators can be equally as important. While there is no set rule on which DIY projects to tackle yourself, and which to avoid, here are several home improvement tasks that may require some additional help from the pros:

1. Structural changes to roof and wall framing. Although it might appear simple enough, removing walls or cutting holes in your home's roof can seriously affect the structural integrity of your house. You should hire an experienced home builder or an engineer to inspect and approve any significant changes you plan on making to your home's roof or walls.

2. Hanging, taping and finishing sheet rock. Creating seamlessly smooth interior walls is not as easy as it looks, not to mention that transporting, carrying, and hanging the large pieces of sheet rock can be a difficult job for the uninitiated.

3. Installing and finishing hardwood floors. Although there are lots of flooring options that can be very DIY friendly, installing and site finishing real wood floors is not one of them. Experienced flooring contractors understand that wood floor boards expand and contract throughout the year, so they need to be very careful when installing and selecting the best type and grade of wood flooring for a particular situation. Likewise, installing hard wood floors over in-floor radiant heating coils or in below-grade locations requires some serious expertise if you want the surface of the floor to remain smooth and seamless over the long haul.

4. Roofing and exterior siding. Although some DIY'ers may be up to the challenge of installing exterior siding and roofing materials, for many of us just the equipment needed to work safely can be reason enough to call a roofing contractor. Working safely high up on your home's walls and roof may require the use of scaffolding, ladder jacks, or even ropes and harnesses. Not only does a roofing contractor have to overcome the challenges of working off the ground, but they must also ensure that a home's exterior is weather tight and reliable.

Perhaps the best way for you to proceed with your project is to make a list of all the jobs that need to be completed, then decide which tasks you really want to do yourself. If some tasks are obviously out of your league, or require too much specialized equipment, then you can start to gather cost estimates and advice from professional contractors who work in your local area. Good luck with your project!

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