Home Improvement 101: How to Know When to Call a Professional Contractor

When you buy your own house, the amount you pay upfront is only the beginning of a seemingly unending slew of expenses. Depending on your financial status, you may have mortgage payments, taxes, and utilities to think about every month.

As the years go by, you’ll also need to take care of expenses that typically come with wear and tear. However, you shouldn’t hesitate to spend on home repairs and improvement projects if it means you can live a more comfortable, happier life.

Still, it isn’t wrong to try to save money, especially if the job is simple enough for you to do on your own. But before you start rolling up your sleeves for a home improvement project, it may be best to think it through some more.

Remember that certain tasks seem easy but are actually best left to the capable hands of experts. The challenging bit is to determine which is which.

To help you make a sound choice, this article covers the signs you need to look out for when determining whether to DIY or when to ask for help from an expert contractor. It also contains a list of some home improvement projects that should never be done without professional help.

DIY vs. Hiring a Contractor: 3 Signs to Call the Pros

If you’ve been DIYing things all your life, you might feel confident that you can do just about anything around the house (or even outside, as in the case of landscaping). However, even the most experienced and skilled DIYer should still keep an open mind when it comes to hiring professionals for a specific job. After all, one person can only do so much.

To help you determine when to call the pros, below are three signs you should watch out for:

1. The task may be too dangerous for you.

The first thing you need to determine to see if a job requires expert help is the possible consequences if you mess up. Ask yourself: What is the worst thing that could happen?

You see, there are some tasks where the answer to the question is “death.” This includes roofing and major electrical work, among others. If this is the case, you should call off the DIY project and immediately seek out trained professionals for help.

2. You need a permit to perform the task.

Another sign that a job is much too complicated to perform on your own is a building permit. If the home improvement project you plan to do requires the approval of your local government, it probably should be done by certified professionals.

Keep in mind that building permits are necessary to ensure that the job is performed safely, so you should learn more about the rules as each city may have varying policies regarding this. In some cases, a building permit will only be issued if you work with a licensed contractor.

Even if acquiring a written approval is easy in your locality, you should still think twice about DIYing the job in question. The fact that you need the permit is a clear sign that the task is too complex to perform by yourself.

3. It can put your property at risk.

Aside from possible safety concerns and the permit requirement, another sign that you should leave a task to the pros is the risk of damaging your property.

Many plumbing jobs, like transferring or changing bathroom fixtures, fall under this category. If you decide to do it on your own but fail to install it properly, you might end up dealing with a major repair due to leaking water that may go unnoticed for years until the wall is about to collapse after being weakened by moisture.

4. Home Improvement Projects You Should Never DIY

Aside from knowing the signs that a project may be too much for you to handle, you may also need a couple of examples of tasks that shouldn’t be done without expert help. Below is a list of home improvement projects that you should never DIY:

1. Custom jobs

Customizing parts of your home is one of the best ways to maximize its functionality and maintaining or boosting its beauty without spending too much. But when done poorly, it not only defeats the purpose of saving money but also can put you and your family’s safety at risk.

To avoid jeopardizing the project, make sure that the custom job is accomplished swiftly and efficiently. If you have any inkling of doubt in your skills in performing the job, it would be best to hire a pro.

2. Structural repairs

Anything related to changing the building’s structure should also be left to a professional contractor, be it a simple repair or a more complicated remodeling project.

If you have an older home, it is expected to have some level of structural wear. When planning to upgrade, be sure to call in a licensed contractor – if not a structural engineer – to make sure that the structure’s integrity is maintained.

3. Remodel planning

Rushing into a home renovation – even a simple one – is also not recommended. In fact, the best way to ensure its success is to consult an expert before doing anything. This way, they can offer you sound advice about the intricacies of the remodeling project.

For instance, some professional landscaping contractors can provide design and consultation services when needed. You have an option to just get a layout plan from them, but it is still best to have them implement their own design. After all, they are the ones who determined the maximum scope of work and came up with the strategy to make everything work.

4. Plumbing and electrical upgrades or repairs

Any major plumbing and electrical repairs or upgrades also require a specialized skillset and experience to perform correctly. As mentioned earlier, poor plumbing may be detrimental to the integrity of your house, while major electrical repairs can lead to injury if not performed properly.

5. Wall removal

Think demolishing a wall is a piece of cake? Think again.

Removing an existing wall is a good way to open up space and make room for more items. However, doing the job without proper planning and preparation can compromise the integrity of the structure, which can lead to serious injuries or even death.

Call for Help

Remodeling and repairs will always be part of a homeowner’s life. While you can save money with DIY, you should pick your battles wisely. Use this article as a guide to know if you need to call for help on your next home improvement project.

AUTHOR BIO

Rachel Hennessey manages the Pools and Landscaping Division of Hennessey LLC. She also works on Tender and Pre-Qualification and brings in new business to the company’s Construction, Interiors and Civils Division.