Home improvement has the potential to be fun, affordable, and extremely rewarding. But that doesn’t mean every DIY project is worth attempting. In fact, a recent report suggests that 4 in 10 Americans suffer from more DIY fails than successes, and that it takes an average of 5 hours of trial and error before calling in the professionals.
The bathroom is the most common room of the house to suffer at the hands of inexperienced DIY-ers, followed closely by the kitchen and yard. Even though the idea of hauling out your drill and cutting some home improvement costs is tempting, it’s important to remember that some tasks are simply best left to the professionals.
It doesn’t mean you can never go for DIY projects that are within your range of expertise. It just means knowing when to hand the baton over to an experienced contractor.
Here are eight DIY projects that beginners (and most intermediates) should never try.
1. Electrical Installation
Aside from the odd light bulb change, almost all electrical installations should be reserved exclusively for professional electricians. The dangers surrounding electrical installations are vast and recurrent, making this form of DIY a very unsafe process to execute, no matter how confident you feel.
Whether you want to install a new light fixture, replace your electrical panel, or perform a demolition of electrical components, these are all jobs that you should never attempt alone.
The US Electrical Safety Foundation found that improperly handled electricity is annually responsible for 400 deaths, 4,000 injuries, and up to $1.6 billion in damages to property. So, next time you catch yourself gazing wistfully at the electrical box, promptly identify a good distraction.
2. Window Replacement
Window replacements are tricky to execute because of how precise every component needs to be. Even the tiniest crack or mismeasurement around the walls, framing, and window in question can result in long-term water leaks and mold damage.
Even though window installation may seem like a straightforward job, it’s the kind of project that requires a meticulous, experienced hand.
Furthermore, any damage repair needed will not be cheap. And you may wind up spending more money fixing damages than it would have cost for a contractor to do a proper job the first time around.
3. Wall Removal
The demolition or removal of a wall is a highly ambitious home improvement project that amateur DIY-ers should steer well clear of. This is due to the fact that only a professional will be able to tell whether or not a wall is load-bearing, meaning it is an integral support structure of the house.
If you attempt to remove a wall without having performed the proper load-bearing analysis procedure, you could place yourself, your home, and everyone in it at risk. Having your ceiling cave in is not worth the time or energy it takes to attempt this project. Rather, get a professional to do the work for you.
4. Removing Chipped Paint
Removing old paint from a wall might seem like child’s play. But in reality, it can result in serious health consequencesif you’re not careful. Buildings erected before 1978 (yes, even if they have been remodeled), are likely to contain lead-based paint, which is extremely toxic to humans.
If you just decide to go for it and strip away the newer layers of paint, you could uncover the lead-based paint chips which lay beneath. In doing so, you put yourself at risk for lead poisoning, which can cause anemia, brain damage, and kidney damage.
5. Roof Leak Repair
Your roof is an integral part of your house, and tampering with it when you don’t have professional experience can cause a lot of damage—while costing you an arm and a leg. If your roof has a leak, doing a simple patch-up job might seem like the best option. But in reality, it’s far more complicated than that.
To repair a roof leak, you have to identify the weak spot and replace the individual shingles (or other roof components) without causing more damage to the surface. A solid roof job should last anywhere between 13-18 years, but amateur repairs could just mean more problems in the long run.
6. Painting Kitchen Cabinets
When it comes to painting the kitchen cabinets, choosing the perfect color is the least of your concerns. The job may seem simple, but there is far more to it than taking a foam roller and applying the latest shade of periwinkle.
Particularly if the kitchen itself is old, there is likely to be a thick build-up of grease, finger oils, and cooking stains embedded in the surface of the wood. This means that an extensive preparation process is needed before fresh paint can go anywhere near the cabinets. Failing to prep the surfaces properly can lead to flaking paint, bubbles, and unsightly, hard to hide streaks.
7. Repairing Drywall
If you think you’ve got what it takes to repair broken drywall, think again. This brittle material is finicky enough to deal with when it’s new. But there is so much more to repairing old drywall than what meets the eye. Even a small crack can reveal a huge issue with the joints or fastenings, and a simple patch job can cause more issues in the not-too-distant future.
Whether you are installing, repairing, or removing drywall in your home, there is a substantial amount of expertise needed to accomplish the job properly. Rather, get a quote or estimate from a professional and work the job into your budget than trying to tackle it yourself.
8. Adding A Skylight
Adding a skylight to your ceiling might sound like a whimsical, fun DIY home project. However, the reality of the installation process is far more complex than what you might like to believe.
The main challenge is around the installation, which is especially tricky when mounting onto a ceiling. The potential for gaps and leakage points becomes even greater with a skylight than with a normal wall window—which, as we’ve already covered, comes with its own set of troubles.
When it comes down to it, just about any major infrastructure repair or installation to your home is best left to the pros. But don’t let that stop you from experimenting with some lower-stakes projects!
Guest Contributor: Nina Sharpe