DIY Repairs, Maintenance, and Improvements for Homeowners
If you find that you need to handle repairs in or around your home, or if you want to upgrade your home or landscaping, you may be tempted to get the equipment and materials to handle it on your own. However, there are situations in which this may be risky or impractical. Certain types of projects virtually require the assistance of a professional contractor, especially projects that are hazardous or highly specialized. Sometimes state law even requires that certain tasks must be handled by a contractor. By contrast, jobs that are routine and do not require specialized skills might be handled on your own if you are looking to save costs.
Why Repair or Improve a Home?
Increase the value of the home
Ensure compliance with laws and building codes
Keep the home safe for residents and visitors
Maximize the home’s comfort and beauty
Repairs and Maintenance
Painting interior walls, furniture, or attachments to your property like decks or fences often can be done on your own. You also might be able to handle mowing your lawn, washing windows, cleaning gutters, and checking drains and sprinklers to make sure that they are clean and clear. If your house requires major structural repairs, on the other hand, you run the risk of being seriously injured or causing damage to your home if you handle them on your own. You should hire a general contractor to address issues such as repairing the foundation or roof, rebuilding walls, or fixing the plumbing, heating, or electrical systems. If your house has been damaged in a major storm or by a fire, you also will want to seek professional assistance.
You might be able to handle some minor improvements, such as adding new kitchen cabinets, adding tiles in the bathroom, installing a ceiling fan, or installing new faucets. You will want to make sure that you have the time and energy to devote to the project, as well as the necessary skills. If any particular project is beyond your personal comfort level, however, you should not hesitate to enlist a contractor. Handling the project on your own unsuccessfully and then bringing in a contractor to fix your job may cost you as much or more than if you had hired a contractor at the outset.
Certain types of home improvements may require permits and a licensed professional’s skills.
A substantial renovation of your home that involves demolition may require getting a permit. A licensed, registered professional likely should perform this type of task. They should handle projects such as installing new doors or windows, rebuilding rooms, resizing a kitchen, installing lighting, or moving major appliances or electrical connections.
In some cases, a homeowner might be able to coordinate with a contractor on a project, such that they handle the main part of the work while having the contractor review the technical aspects of it to make sure that it complies with safety laws. This will require coordinating your schedule with the contractor and finding a contractor who is flexible about working under a homeowner’s supervision.
Working on the lawn of your home can significantly increase its value. Many homeowners also choose to upgrade their backyards so that they can do more activities outside. The complexity of your plans will determine whether you should retain a landscaping professional or even an architect, rather than handling the improvements on your own. Planting a tree or adding a flower bed are some examples of tasks that a homeowner might be able to handle without a professional, as long as they approach it with a careful strategy and the appropriate tools. If you want to build a structure like a fountain or a gazebo, or if you want to install a fish pond, you should strongly consider hiring an outside professional.