5 Tasks You Can DIY in the Home But Shouldn't

Written by Dan Henderson, Repairs and Paints
Updated November 17, 2016
A man fiixing a light switch
Electrical work is a DIY no-no. (Photo by Eldon Lindsay)

Don't try to be a hero with these household tasks.

There are some projects in the home that shouldn’t be given the DIY treatment for different reasons. Safety is a big issue, and if you're not sure you can complete a project to the highest possible safety standards, then don’t bother starting it, just hire the right help.

There's a difference between the work of a professional contractor and of someone who knows how to use a bunch of tools, so the finesse of an experienced hand cannot be ignored. The saying that just because you can, doesn’t mean you should, holds even more water than usual here, because DIY projects are not only time and energy consuming, but can be dangerous.

Here are five tasks around the home you can probably handle on your own, but would be better off hiring out:

1. Cutting trees

Anyone can walk into a hardware shop and purchase a chainsaw, but not everyone can use it properly, and chainsaw accidents aren't pretty.

Tree cutting – especially large ones - should be left to tree care pros because a lot can go wrong. There’s the sharp, engine-powered blade, telephone lines, a possible 20-foot fall, heavy branches to navigate on that fall, etc.

There's that urge within guys to feel the purr of the two–stroke engine in their hands and cut up trees, but looking at the amount of accidents that happen when people, chainsaws and trees combine, the thrill may not be worth it. Inexperience can also make one damage parts of the home – like the roof – when cutting off tree branches. Calling a professional arborist is the only way to ensure these don’t happen.

2. Fixing roof

From the top of a roof, it’s a long way to the ground, but a very short journey to the orthopedic room – or undertaker's.

While the roof repair work might seem easy enough, the part about climbing a ladder with supplies and making repeated runs is a risk in itself. Steep roofs – with angles greater than 20 degrees – are a no-go for DIYers, so stop testing gravity and your luck, leave it to the pros.

3. Electrical work

Electricity doesn’t give second chances. As long as you remember to turn off the required switches and mains, anyone can change a light bulb, replace sockets and switches, but it ends there.

Any work that requires making structural changes like running additional wiring, and installing new outlets, fittings and the like, should be left to professionals.

An Illinois home inspector, Tom Brooks, once reported how a DIYer remodeled their bathroom and installed an electrical wall switch right inside a shower stall. The ramifications of what could come of such a mistake is only best imagined. Tampering wrongly with circuits, running wires around and installing heavy fittings can only have terrible results – fires, electrocution, damaged appliances, etc.

4. Plumbing

You can change a faucet and maybe unclog a blocked drain, but draw the line there. Any plumbing work that requires tearing down walls or running new pipes should be left to a pro.

Complicated processes like installing heaters, which involves precision welding and the installation of copper pipes, require a level of skill and knowledge before they can be done to standard. Otherwise, you could flood your house or burn it down – it’s a 50-50 chance between both.

5. Painting

Yes you have the paint, and the brush, as well as the adventurous spirit to paint, but can you beat a professional painter?

You can paint your basement and look upon the terrible wall as evidence of something to never do again, but don’t have a go at more mainstream parts of the house. What a professional painter assures you is results in record time, but doing it yourself will most probably not give you the Picasso-esque image  

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About this Experts Contributor: Dan Henderson owns Repairs and Paints in Marlton, New Jersey, which serves the Greater Philadelphia area.

As of November 10, 2016, this service provider was highly rated on Angie's List. Ratings are subject to change based on consumer feedback, so check Angie's List for the most up-to-date reviews. The views expressed by this author do not necessarily reflect those of Angie's List.