Go Solo or Go Pro?

Unless you’re a skilled tradesperson or home repair expert, there are things you likely can’t (or probably shouldn’t) do yourself around the house. Often enough, your attempts to save some money by tackling a project yourself will just take longer and cost more when you have to hire a contractor to fix what you did wrong anyway. The safest rule of thumb is, when in doubt about your own abilities, call a professional.

Projects You Can Do

There are lots of projects you can do on your own that will save money and not (usually) cause any major issues if something goes wrong. Painting is one, particularly interior walls and ceilings. A few buckets of paint, some brushes and drop cloths, and a little elbow grease can save you hundreds of dollars and, barring a huge spill, won’t ruin the house if a mistake happens.

Laying or replacing tiles in the bathroom or kitchen can also be a DIY project that saves money. You have to be exact and careful, of course, but once you get the hang of it, it’s a pretty straightforward process. Also, smashing cracked tiles to replace them can be remarkably satisfying. Tiling requires few tools and a bit of endurance, but it’s worth it to the pocket book in the long run.

Installing gutters is another project that could be done by a pro but could easily be done with a little patience and care. Many types of gutters, from vinyl to copper, can essentially be snapped onto your roof in parts, and rain spouts are easy to attach to installed gutters.

Call a Pro

Generally, anything involving pipes or lines, like plumbing or electrical, is best handled by a professional unless you really know what you’re doing. Plenty of DIY books will show you step-by-step what to do, but unless someone helping you with such a project has done it (successfully) before, yield to a pro.

Major outdoor projects generally are best left to professionals as well. While pruning trees and bushes is fine to do on your own, removing large trees is not something to try yourself. Trees, after all, are tall and heavy and can fall in whole or in part, in the wrong spot. Also, cutting large limbs can be dangerous, as they may fall on you or someone else, or a pet.

Similarly, roofing or siding replacements are probably best left to professionals. Roofs are not made to walk on, which makes them easy to fall from, and if there are major problems like insect infestation that surprise you up there, things could get out of hand quickly. And siding, though not complicated, is tedious and, depending on how high it goes, potentially dangerous. Remember, when in doubt, listen to your gut. Posted by Richard Soto on
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