If you own your home, making home repairs and improvements is a labor of love. You get to see the beautiful results that you did yourself and bask in the glory of all the oohs and aahs of friends and family.
But you should also know your limitations. There are a lot of things that you can do yourself, but there are several that should only be attempted by professionals. We break down which are doable and for which ones you should call for help.
Heavy electrical or plumbing — Unclogging a drain or installing a bathroom vanity light can be done on your own. But if you’re trying to replace all your galvanized pipes with PVC, or your aluminum wiring with sheathed copper, you might want to leave that to a pro. There’s a reason plumbers and electricians get paid a lot: they know a lot. And their knowledge can keep you from burning your house down or electrocuting yourself.
Anything that requires a permit — You’ll likely get away with it, but when you go to sell your house, you must disclose any non-permit work. Then, the buyers may not be able to get financing for a house with work that wasn’t permitted.
Ceramic tile — You can do your own, but leaving it to the pros will ensure a more quality, even job. If your tile is only slightly out of line, you will notice it. Forever.
Refinish a tub — Don’t try this at home. The home kits you can buy are rarely good enough to last, and you’ll have an even bigger mess just a few months down the road. Be careful hiring tub refinishers, though. Ask around and get recommendations from contractors. Tub refinishers can often be scam artists who do a few jobs then change their phone numbers. Ask your refinisher if he or she provides a guarantee for their work. They should be confident enough in their abilities that they are willing to come back and fix problems for free.
Paint — You can paint just about anything on your own and expect it will turn out pretty well. Just use primer, drop cloths and good brushes, and you’ll have success. Paint doors, walls, cabinets, ceilings and even floors if you want. Just read up a little about it or ask your paint seller what steps you should take for each room or task. Be careful if you use a ladder to place it properly and have someone nearby in case you fall. Never set a ladder down on uneven ground. The risk of falling is too high.
Change light fixtures — When changing a light fixture, the most important thing to remember is that you need to turn off the breaker to that light, and make sure nobody turns it on while you’re working. Put tape over it if you have several people in the house. Installing a new light fixture or fan in a place where there was not one is a lot trickier and requires wiring to be added. See an electrician about that.
Install shelves — Building shelves isn’t too difficult, and if you want them to look really nice, you can buy some already made and install them on the wall. If you do choose to build your own, make sure you use all safety precautions with power tools.
Installing cabinets — You can replace your own cabinets, but it’s not exactly easy. You have to measure and cut things just right, and make sure they are hung properly, too. If you mess up, you may have to spend more money on cabinets, too.
Whatever you do around your home, make sure to take the proper precautions to stay safe. Use proper eye and nose protection when needed and follow all manufacturer’s instructions. Regularly inspect your tools to make sure they’re functioning properly and replace parts as needed. Wear protective clothing, and never carry tools up a ladder by hand — put them in a bucket or bag, or hoist them up.
As long as you’re careful and do lots of research, you can tackle several home projects on your own. When they’re finished, you’ll feel a sense of pride in your home and your own accomplishments.