The Professional Choice

A companion overview to the popular "Ask Mr. Handyman" radio program airing on Christian Talk Radio, KCRO 660AM Saturdays @ 9:30AM.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

11 Projects homeowners should not DIY

Watching the cable TV shows you may think the DIY projects seem easy.  Some are.  Here are a few projects you should never try to tackle unless you have quite a bit of experience.

Roof Repair. Not only can you hurt yourself if you attempt to fix your roof on your own, but you can also damage your roof and end up in need of even more costly repairs from a pro. Limit your interaction with your roof to seasonal check ups to remove debris from gutters and check for cracked or broken shingles. Since most roof systems can last for up to 20 years, this is definitely a case where you should leave it to the pros.

- Window replacement. Installing new windows is a great way to save energy and in turn, lower your monthly energy bills. However, from the specialized tools that may be required to the proper installation techniques, this is one job left to the pros.

- Exterior painting. Paint and preparation vary depending on the surface, but no matter the material, the steps of power washing, sanding, paint scraping and caulking must be completed. The goal of most DIY’ers is to save money but not properly tackling the preparation part of the work may cost you much more in the long run. Keep in mind that older homes likely have lead-based paint issues, which can be hazardous to your health.

- HVAC. Unless you're performing a relatively simple task like installing a programmable thermostat to save energy, most HVAC projects require the help of a professional because very few homeowners know more than just the basics of air ventilation and circulation.

- Attic Insulation. If your attic is easily accessible, it can be tempting to attempt to insulate your attic on your own, but think twice before installing any. There are several types used in this area and knowing how much to add and where to put it is key. Too much in the wrong places or up against the bottom of the roof can cause wood rot to form.

- Structural changes. While most homeowners know to keep away from loadbearing walls, some forget to also avoid walls that contain water or gas pipes, electrical wires and ductwork. Hiring a professional can save you the time you'd spend with the guesswork involved in figuring out what walls can go and what must stay.

- Gutter repair. The installation of new gutters can add great value to a home, but keep in mind that it's difficult to near impossible to repair gutters without impacting your roof, fascia and soffit. If the slope of the gutter is not correct they may rust out prematurely or not function properly.

- Building a deck. In most municipalities, homeowners must secure a permit when building a deck higher than 18 inches off the ground. Building codes will also affect your build and how far you'll need to dig before installation of footings. Improper attachment to your home can cause wood rot and water intrusion into the living space.

- Basement Waterproofing. Do your homework before attempting to solve your water problems. While minor issues can be temporarily fixed with waterproofing paint, the results are sure to fade after one or two heavy rainstorms. For a permanent solution hire a professional who will troubleshoot and recommend the best solution.

Tree Removal. Forget that you'll need to figure out what to do with the tree once you've knocked it down and consider the time you'll spend measuring and preparing for the fall. There are a lot of factors at play here that a professional tree remover will be much better equipped to handle, oftentimes at a relatively low cost.

- Tile Work. Especially in ‘wet’ areas like the tub surround or kitchen backsplash. Improperly installing tile in these areas can lead to water intrusion and mold, mildew and wood rot issues. Tile can be expensive so having it installed properly by a professional is your best value.