Updated on: January 30, 2023
DIY home improvement projects can save money because you do not have to pay for labor. You don’t have to worry about being there on time to let the contractors in, and you will feel a sense of ownership and accomplishment once done. Also, you will learn a new skill that you can use in other projects around the house in the future.
Often, however, home improvement projects are beyond the do-it-yourself realm. Unless you have specialized skills or experience, any project involving the structural elements of your home or the major systems like electricity, gas, and plumbing is best left to the pros.
Other projects may seem like DIY options, but hiring a professional might still be a better choice because an experienced hand can provide better quality and ensure the work lasts longer. Many contractors even provide a warranty to back up their job. They will make repairs if the work does not last for its expected lifespan.
Here are 12 home improvement projects best left to a professional.
Window replacement requires precision measurements and skill to create the necessary support and airtight seal around each unit. Also, it can be challenging to remove the old windows and frames without the correct tools. Inexperienced window removers might damage the surrounding wall or supports if they are not careful.
Another reason to go with a professional installer is that window manufacturers typically offer lengthy warranties on their products. However, the guarantee is only in effect if an approved professional manages the installation process.
Window replacement professionals typically have a contractor’s license, and you should be sure to only work with pros who are approved to install your chosen windows.
A window contractor will remove your old window, measure and prepare the opening, ensure it is level, and then dry- the new window before applying caulk. They will then add trim and seal the interior.
Insulation is necessary for climate control in most homes. There are several safety reasons to opt for a professional when removing insulation.
Firstly, some products, such as fiberglass insulation, can damage your lungs, eyes, and skin if you do not follow the proper removal process and fail to use personal protective equipment. Also, in older homes, insulation can contain carcinogenic substances like asbestos. Professionals are trained to recognize these dangers and handle them appropriately.
Finally, removing insulation from the attic or walls requires specialized equipment and the ability to work in cramped spaces. Insulation removal experts typically rely on a high-powered vacuum, which sucks the fibers out of the home into bags so that they do not become airborne.
Wall removal projects often involve making a room larger or remodeling a kitchen. These projects should almost always be left to professionals. Many walls serve as supports for the home, so removing them could compromise the structure. Experienced contractors can identify load-bearing walls and avoid removing them.
Secondly, most homes have wiring, plumbing, or gas pipes hidden inside the walls. If you are not careful with DIY wall removal, you may damage these systems, which will lead to expensive repairs.
General contractors are qualified to remove walls. They typically start by inspecting the wall to ensure it does not provide support and does not contain wiring or plumbing. If you are doing a project such as a professionally-designed kitchen remodel, the designer may have a plan for rerouting pipes or wires behind the wall.
The contractor will then remove the wall using power saws or demolition equipment.
Contractors typically guarantee their work when installing floorings, such as hardwood or tile. They have the tools to get the job done correctly and ensure the floor is level, and the subfloor is properly placed to avoid creaking or an uneven, spongy surface.
Professionals often get materials at wholesale prices, and they can help with the prep work, such as removing the old floor and taking out furniture.
In addition to removing the old floor, installing the subfloor, and adding the tile or wood, contractors will typically finish the project by grouting tile or adding a coat of finish to the wood.
Refinishing is an alternative to completely replacing a wood floor. It involves sanding to remove the old finish and smooth any dents or scratches before adding a fresh coat of finish.
Contractors typically use industrial-size sanders to finish the first step quickly. They have the knowledge and skill to sand evenly while avoiding taking too much of the wood surface off the floor. Removing too much of the surface could lead to irreparable damage.
Finally, flooring contractors have the right techniques to evenly coat the floor with a polyurethane finish.
Your average DIYer can securely fasten factory-assembled bathroom or kitchen cabinets to wall studs, ensure proper spacing, and adjust the screws to keep the cabinet level. Cabinet assembly and construction, on the other hand, are different beasts altogether.
Assembly of ready-to-assemble (RTA) cabinets is a project most homeowners and contractors prefer to avoid. While some RTA manufacturers provide well-written instructions and assembly hardware, many people get frustrated with the time and complexity of these projects. Additionally, DIYers often worry whether the assembly has been done correctly, or whether a permanent imperfection will always annoy them in their kitchen.
Finally, cabinet construction is a task few DIYers (or even experienced contractors) would be advised to consider. If you want to construct your own custom cabinets, you’ll need to spend time designing them, spend money on materials to build them, and make sure you have the space, tools, and woodworking know-how to complete the job. On top of all that, you still have to install the cabinets when you’re done! Building your own cabinets can save you money on labor and installation — but if you’re not a woodworker with a shop, tools, and experience, the time and money you spend on the periphery here might cost more than it’s worth.
Cabinet painting and refinishing are sometimes DIY jobs. However, a professional will have all the tools and know-how to handle the job efficiently.
A cabinet refinishing specialist can sand the surfaces to prepare for paint or finish. This step can be challenging if the cabinets have trim. They also have the tools, such as sprayers, rollers, and brushes, to provide a smooth, even paint job. Applying paint is challenging, especially in a kitchen, where cabinets sit over appliances and countertops.
Pool installation is beyond the realm of the most skilled DIY homeowner. It requires heavy equipment and a variety of permits. In many municipalities, these permits are only available to licensed pool installers.
Even if you can get permission from your city, issues like leaks, flooding, weak structure, ground heave, and poor improper pump installation will likely come up without professional help.
Pool installers start by assessing the site and finding the correct placement for a pool. They then dig the pool area out, install any necessary supports, and build the pool body using fiberglass or cement. They then add a pump, lights, heater, and other elements.
Pool contractors can also ensure you meet any local ordinances, such as adding a fence around the pool area for safety.
Safety is the number one reason to hire a professional for roof repair. Accessing the roof can be tedious, even if you have a proper ladder and a harness. Professionals have the equipment and know-how to work safely at height.
Also, the integrity of your roof affects your entire home. Leaks can damage your interior, lead to mold growth, and cause rot and other issues. A licensed roof contractor can inspect the roof, find damage, and handle repairs.
For most projects, you will need a permit from your city, which the contractor can handle for you. Also, if you are removing and replacing shingles, you could produce a lot of waste. The contractor will dispose of this for you at the end of the job.
Electrical work is best left to a licensed electrician. Improperly installed wiring can lead to tripped fuses, shorts, and an increased danger of electrical fires. Also, if you do not turn off the circuits before you start working on them, you risk electrocution.
Electricians can handle wiring repairs and lay the new wire in a room. These professionals have a license from their state, so they have proven their skills through exams and experience.
Plumbing is best left to professionals for several reasons. First, a small leak could cause water damage, mold growth, and rot in your home. Secondly, you rely on plumbing systems every day. If they are not working correctly, your home life will grind to a halt until they are fixed.
Professional plumbers can assess repair needs and handle pipe or fixture replacement, plug leaks, and unclog drains. They can also oversee the installation of new plumbing during a bathroom design project.
Professional plumbers are licensed tradespeople. They typically undergo an apprenticeship before working on their own, so they have the repair and diagnostic skills to do the job correctly.
Gas leaks can be fatal, causing fires, explosions, or asphyxiation. A gas leak is one of the worst disasters a homeowner could experience. Therefore, whenever you need to install a gas appliance, it is best to hire a licensed professional.
Furnaces, water heaters, gas stoves and ovens, and gas dryers are examples of these appliances. A contractor will turn off the natural gas supply, remove the old appliance, connect the new one, and run several safety tests to ensure proper connection and a lack of leakage.
DIY projects can be rewarding. However, some improvements are best left to the professionals.