Which Home Improvement Projects Should Never Be DIY?

Which Home Improvement Projects Should Never Be DIY?
Photo: mihalec, Shutterstock

There’s a YouTube tutorial or how-to article for pretty much any and every do-it-yourself home improvement project you could possibly want to take on. But just because you can DIY something doesn’t mean you should. In some cases, your time, money and safety may be worth more than what you’d pay a professional to do the same job.

Look, we’re not here to discourage DIY — we are Lifehacker, after all. But sometimes the hack is “call a professional before you get in over your head.”

Bottom line: know your limitations. Here are a few situations in which you may want to reconsider DIY.

Pros could do it for less

Calculate how much your time is worth per hour (or how much you think it’s worth) and how long the project will take, add the cost of materials and tools, and compare the total to how much a professional would charge for the same job. Of course, this approach breaks down if you’re doing home projects entirely on personal time that doesn’t have the same value as your professional time — or if sticking to a budget is your top priority.

But you should also consider the cost of having a pro come in to fix any mistakes or redo any DIY work you’re not satisfied with.

Pros could do it faster

If time is money, or if you have limited hours to complete a DIY project, it may be worth paying a professional, who can almost certainly do it faster.

Pros could do it more safely

Some projects aren’t so easily tackled via a YouTube education or without training or hands-on experience. You probably want to avoid DIY when it comes to:

If there’s a chance that you’ll electrocute yourself, crush yourself, fall off a ladder, or burn down your house, consider hiring someone else for the job.

DIY would void a warranty

Many home appliances, systems and materials come with warranties — and installing or fixing things yourself or using the wrong materials may void those warranties. Read your warranty info carefully before going DIY on the following projects:

  • HVAC repairs
  • Flooring
  • Siding
  • Roofing
  • Exterior painting
  • Appliance repairs

You don’t have the right tools

This goes back to the cost issue: some projects require specialised tools that you may not have on hand for one-time use. If you can’t rent them, DIY may be cost-prohibitive.

The final result will look DIY

You could tile your bathroom yourself, but will you be satisfied with the final result? Will a future homebuyer be able to tell that it’s DIY? Bricklaying, tiling, installing and painting cabinets and plastering may fall into this category.

You don’t even like DIY

For some, do-it-yourself is, quite simply, a pain in the arse. If you’re not going to enjoy the process, consider passing off the hassle to a professional.

This article was originally published in October 2012 and updated on October 14, 2020 to refresh dead links, perform a copy edit, add a new header image, and align the content with current Lifehacker style.

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