Let’s face it, being a homeowner is not for the faint of heart. When you rent, you call your landlord every time something needs fixing. But when you own, YOU’RE the landlord and YOU’RE the one whose dollars and time need to go into making that fix happen. It can be tempting to try to cut corners (and save money) by fixing things yourself, rather than calling in the pros. But SHOULD you DIY or call a pro?
Knowing the difference between what jobs you can handle, and what jobs really do require professional help, is crucial if you want to save yourself money and hassle down the road.
Case in point: The previous owners of our current home were big on DIY in cases where they shouldn’t have been. Thanks to their less-than-expert efforts, a crimp in the water line running to our ice maker came back to haunt us this past May.
That crimp decimated our kitchen’s hardwood floor, flooded our basement, and destroyed several chunks of our basement’s ceiling and interior walls. The damage took six months and over $16,000 (covered by insurance, thank goodness!) to repair. And nearly seven months later, we’re still trying to get everything resettled.
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Don’t make the same expensive mistakes that the previous owners of this house (and countless other homeowners over time) have made. Sometimes you CAN save a small fortune by DIYing, but other times it’s better to call in the pros. Here are a few examples.
This is a collaboration post. However, please know I stand behind everything written here, and only include links to products/services/resources I’m willing to recommend personally.
Call A Pro: Your heating system stops working
There’s nothing worse than having your heating system break down in the middle of the winter. Trust me, this is one time you definitely need to call a pro. If you’re on top of things, you’ve already had the pros in for your annual maintenance check.
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In our area at least, that fall maintenance check comes with priority scheduling for any emergency calls PLUS a discount on emergency repairs. Trust me: when it comes to heating, you need to call in the professionals. Especially because many people’s heating systems involve natural gas, which is dangerous to mess with unless you know what you’re doing.
Possible DIY: Replace your water heater
If you have any sort of aptitude with plumbing and/or electrical repairs, replacing your water heater is one thing you MIGHT be able to handle yourself. I personally don’t fall into this category, but I know both my husband and my mama have tackled small DIY plumbing repairs.
If you’re feeling confident enough to give this a try, then check out How To Replace Your Hot Water Heater: Help for the DIY Homeowner. Of course, you’ll need to set aside a weekend to tackle this project start to finish, and call in the pros if you have any difficulties whatsoever. But this is one DIY that could save you a bundle.
Call A Pro: Major Renovation Projects
The kitchen and the bathroom are traditionally two of the most expensive rooms to renovate in your home, and for good reason. Unless you have a lot of pro-grade skills and tools, trust me: pros will finish the job MUCH better, and at a much higher quality, than anything you could do yourself. (See references above to previous homeowner’s DIY water line installation.) From the electrical work and plumbing hookups to installing cabinets and flooring, calling in the pros means the job will be done right in weeks, versus poorly done over the course of months.
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If you ARE thinking about upgrading these rooms, there are plenty of smaller jobs you can handle yourself that will cost much less than the major overhauls that require a pro. Swapping out cabinet doors or hardware is one example; regrouting tile is another. But my favorite DIY-friendly way to give a room a new look without major renovations is a fresh coat of paint. Which brings me to my next example:
DIY: Painting and redecorating
Painting in your home is possibly one of the easiest renovation tasks you can do. If you have zero experience (or zero time), then yes, definitely call the pros. But if you have even a little of these – and/or a desire to learn – then this is something that almost any homeowner can handle.
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You’ll need to make sure you have the right tools (more on that in this post on DIY painting hacks), as well as block out enough time to get it done. I don’t even try to paint a room unless the girls are away. But in a day or two, you can give a room a whole new look – and be able to say with pride, “I did that!” when it’s done.
Call a pro: You smell natural gas
There will always be times when you need to call in the experts; smelling natural gas is one of these. Gas leaks can be costly, and not just in terms of money. If you smell gas, leave your home IMMEDIATELY and call the pros, so you don’t pay for this one with your life.
Maybe not necessary: The power goes out
Whether you live in a hurricane zone or a snow belt, most homeowners have had to deal with the occasional power outage. If you’re cooking dinner when this happens, and everyone is in the kitchen with you, it’s worth checking your electrical box before you panic and call in the pros. Whenever everything shuts down on me while I’m cooking, often times it’s just because I’ve overloaded a circuit. Flipping the circuit breaker (or in my old apartment, replacing the fuse) does the trick.
If, on the other hand, you notice that power is out across all zones of your house, take a peek outside to see if your neighbors’ lights are on. If not, then the problem probably extends well beyond your house. In that case, definitely call your electric utility’s service line and report the outage.
Bottom line: Yes, sometimes homeowners are best off calling in the pros. But other times, DIYing can save you time and money – IF you know what you’re doing. Knowing the difference between these two scenarios is key.
What about you? Which (if any) DIY home projects have you tackled yourself, or would you if they arose? Let us know in the comments!
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