Skip the DIY for these home upgrades

Shannon Lee | Improvement Center Columnist | April 21, 2015

Do it yourself projects are a big business for homeowners. A survey by Statista found that 65 percent of homeowners planned to embark on DIY projects in 2015, spending a whopping $338.3 billion at home improvement centers, hardware stores, and lumberyards. That's serious time and cash for DIY projects, and it begs the question: Just how big are the projects these homeowners intend to tackle?

It is very important to understand which DIY home upgrades work well and which ones are best left to the pros. While some projects can be undertaken with patience, determination, and a bit of construction know-how, there are some that could quickly become much bigger and more expensive than you think. Here are a few examples of when it's best to call in the pros.

You need to move some plumbing

Replacing that old faucet with a shiny new one? Go for it! The 2011 American Housing Survey reported that about 50 percent of all basic plumbing upgrades were completed by homeowners. But if you need to actually move pipes around or change the configuration in order to complete an upgrade, it's time to call the pros. This kind of rerouting of the existing plumbing, or adding in new lines, should only be done by someone with significant experience in the field. And make that call before you cut into the wall -- the last thing you want is to discover that you didn't need to take out that huge chunk of drywall after all.

You need to reroute the electrical wires

There is no doubt that dealing with electricity can be dangerous. There is a reason why electricians go through intensive training in order to do their jobs! If you need to do more than change out a light fixture or swap out a light switch, call in a professional who is licensed, insured, and experienced. In addition to their many years of working with wires, they have the tools they need to stay safe. Most homeowners don't mess with electrical wiring -- the AHS survey found that two-thirds of all projects that involve electrical work are completed by professionals.

The gas line actually needs to go over there…

This is a definite no-no for any homeowner. No matter how experienced you think you are, working with gas and other fuel lines is a very dangerous undertaking that should only be handled by a professional who has many years of experience. Trying to move a gas line yourself could create a tenuous situation at best; at worst, you could lose your entire home to a spectacular explosion, damage the homes around yours, and possibly even lose your life. Those terrible possibilities are definitely not worth the money saved by doing it yourself! For the sake of safety, always call the gas company when you need this kind of work done.

It's time to make your home much bigger

Want to put that new sunroom on the back of the house? How about that nursery for your new addition to the family? Additions to your home often mean major construction, electrical and HVAC work, and possibly plumbing, roofing, and more. Very few homeowners can tackle all of those things, and so calling in the professionals is a no-brainer. In fact, the AHS survey found that 80 percent of kitchen additions are outsourced to contractors, along with 82 percent of roofing projects and 90 percent of HVAC upgrades. If you really want to do some of the work yourself, ask the contractor what you can handle -- things like basic demolition work and cleanup can definitely keep you busy and shave some cash off the bottom line.

Anytime things get out of hand

Sometimes even the smallest project can morph into a major one. Maybe changing out that bathroom tile uncovers serious water damage underneath. Maybe the refinished cabinet door slips out of your hand and damages the countertop. Maybe you're carefully digging in the yard and somehow hit a buried line. Problems like this can mean you stop everything, pick up the phone, and call a contractor.

Sometimes a DIY seems to be going just fine, but then one small detail leads to a larger one, and suddenly the job is much bigger than you expected. There is no shame in throwing in the towel and reaching out for help. Remember that anytime things get out of hand with your DIY home upgrades, the pros are just a phone call away.

Photo credit to Kevin Irby

About the Author

Shannon Lee is a freelance writer and occasional novelist with a serious weakness for real estate. When she's not writing, she and her husband are taking road trips to explore covered bridges, little wineries and quaint bed-and-breakfast inns in their beloved Pennsylvania.