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3 times you shouldn't DIY

April Dykman | Improvement Center Columnist | March 24, 2014

Saving money is one of the top reasons to DIY. You can pocket a lot of Benjamins by buying the materials and doing the labor yourself.

However, some projects are best left to the pros. Projects that require special tools, a certification, or years of experience can go horribly wrong in the hands of a weekend warrior. They can wind up being more expensive or even downright dangerous.

Here are three projects best left to the pros:

Popcorn ceiling removal

Popcorn ceilings are a once-popular type of flocked acoustic ceiling that have definitely fallen out of favor. If you're thinking of removing the popcorn yourself, you should know that the material could contain asbestos. Although asbestos in popcorn was banned in 1978, houses built as late as the mid-80s could still have asbestos in their popcorn ceilings, since the ban allowed builders to use up their remaining supply.

How do you know if your popcorn ceilings contain asbestos? You have to remove a sample and send it to a laboratory. If it tests positive, it's time to call a certified asbestos-abatement company, which can safely remove the popcorn and then re-texture and paint the ceilings.

Knocking down walls

You might dream about opening your kitchen into the dining room, but think twice before you take a sledgehammer to the wall.

First, it's critical that you know whether or not the wall is load-bearing. In other words, if you tear out the wall, you need to make sure that the attic won't come crashing down on you. Not only is that an expensive scenario, but it's a dangerous one as well.

Second, even if the wall isn't load-bearing, it still might be home to any combination of electrical wires and plumbing pipes. You do not want to hit either of those things with a sledgehammer. That's it's best to just hire a contractor to take out walls -- they can tell you if it's load-bearing and work around the wires and pipes inside.

Electrical work

Want to rewire an entire room? That sounds like a good job for an electrician.

If you don't know what you're doing, electrical work is one of the most dangerous things to attempt to DIY. After all, if you mess up a paint job, you've just got an ugly wall. If you mess up an electrical job, it could mean a fire, muscular paralysis, or even death. It's that serious.

When it comes to electrical work, the stakes are very high. Consider this: Electricians go to school and then spend two to four years in an apprenticeship with a master or licensed electrician before they can take the exam to become a licensed electrician. It's hard, complicated work best left to those with the training to do it.

Still thinking about the cash you'd save by doing the job yourself? Remember that a DIY job can cost you a lot more money to fix than it would to hire a pro in the first place!

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