What Projects Should Never Be DIY?
Brain surgery. That's one job you probably shouldn't DIY. But it's not the only job. Some fixer-uppers in your home really do require expert help. Others are too costly to muck up. The DIY experts at Stack Exchange provide a list of home projects you should never DIY.
Illustration by Sean Gallagher.
What are the most common DIY projects that you should not do yourself? What must be hired out?
Answer: Domestic Gas Piping
Seems like it's trivial to connect a stove to the pipeline in an apartment—buy a pipe and two thunks, play with a wrench—what could be easier?
Then you overtighten or undertighten some nut or use a wrong type of thunk and you've got a gas leak and possibly a devastating explosion. Saved 30 to 100 bucks but destroyed your own and others' property and possibly killed and injured people. Bad Idea.
Answer: Garage Doors
This reminds me of this question. Garage doors. The tension stored in those springs is pretty dangerous. Make a wrong move while tensioning the springs and it could take your arm off.
Answer: No-Fun Projects
You should never do the stuff that's not fun to do. It took me a while to learn this, but unless you truly love hanging sheetrock, for instance, assume a pro will get that portion of your project done 10x faster than you ever would. That's well worth the money, IMHO.
I put roofing on that list. It's certainly a DIYable task, but a pro roofing team can redo your roof in one day. That's a good thing.
Answer: Bricklaying & Plastering
My very handy father completely rebuilt a house, doing absolutely everything himself or with family assistance (I recall tiling a roof) except for a couple of large repetitive do-it-right-first-time jobs which he could do himself but he knew an experienced professional team would get done much better and much faster: bricklaying and plastering.
Answer: HVAC Work
Particularly the internals of the system. A heat pump is one of the most complicated pieces of equipment in a modern home. And there's plenty of warranty issues involved if you are not an authorized reseller.
Answer: Refinishing a Bathtub (In Place)
"It's just body work—I've done this a dozen times." Incredibly messy, hard to clean up, a ton of cramped work, and even with good ventilation—just an awful job. I saved my mom a few bucks, but never again.
Answer: Know What Can Go Wrong
Homeowners should never do anything where they cannot list 3-5 ways in which it could go wrong.
Answer: When in Doubt, Ask an Expert
I'm a general contractor, and I make a living of correcting problems created by home owners trying to save a buck or two. Reading and researching online is great, but no substitute for experience and the proper tools for the job. The cost of fixing a botched job is always more than doing it right the first time, not to mention the agravation and possible safety hazards created. WHEN IN DOUBT CALL A PROFESSIONAL, or become good friends with a competent general contractor and ask for advice like my family and friends do all the time!
Need help on a project? Check out Lifehacker's list of "Don't Do It Yourself" resources here.