DIY renovation projects are great for experienced homeowners or beginner projects. However, they could lead to headaches — and unforeseen expenses — for anything that requires extensive training, safety know-how, and/or pulling permits.
Here at GreatBuildz, we speak with clients every day who are deciding whether to DIY or hire a pro for their home improvement projects in Los Angeles, Orange, Ventura & San Diego Counties.
GreatBuildz is a free service that connects homeowners with reliable, pre-screened contractors, then provides ongoing project support to ensure a stress-free experience.
Here are the home improvement projects that benefit from a professional touch.
1. Fixing Your Foundation
Your foundation provides stability for your home. If it is cracked or crumbling, you’ll need to repair it. Diagnosing and fixing the problem may require the help of a foundation contractor or structural engineer. They understand how to build a stable foundation and have the right skill set.
It’s critical to leave these repair jobs to experienced professionals. Incorrectly repairing the foundation could weaken your home’s structure. This could create long-term problems and safety concerns for your family. These include a home more vulnerable to water damage, settling flooring, and other costly issues.
This doesn’t mean your input isn’t valuable here. When hiring a foundation contractor, ensure you understand the basics of the project. This way, you can find a quality professional and better assess their skills and experience. As always, confirm they have the proper licensing and verify their insurance.
2. Adding an Extension/Addition
Open floor plans are a popular concept for many homeowners, making extra space valuable. Adding more rooms, such as bedrooms, can also increase the function of the property. This makes a home extension a popular project for a growing family or a fix-and-flip investor.
However, creating extra space requires major construction. You will probably need to tear down walls. Some of these may be load-bearing, which requires plans, structural engineering, and a permit. You don’t want to go knocking down walls only to discover that the ceiling is about to collapse down on you.
Also, you may need to knock down a wall that has plumbing pipes or electrical wires. If this is the case, these will need to be rerouted. Plumbing and electrical jobs should always be done by a professional due to the risks inherent in working with these systems.
Finally, even if you did feel like you could take a sledgehammer to your wall, remember that timing is everything. Will you be able to finish the job on a schedule, as a professional contractor does? The last thing you want is a gaping hole in your house due to material delays you weren’t anticipating.
3. Removing Mold
A damp basement or roof leak can lead to mold growth. If you notice a musty smell or see cracking or peeling of surfaces, these could be signs of mold. To keep your family healthy, you want to remove it right away. Hiring a specialty contractor can ensure the mold is properly removed.
If you try to do it yourself, you may not get rid of it entirely. This can lead to health concerns for your family, such as skin irritation or headaches. Professional remediation professionals have safety gear to prevent overexposure to mold — investing in the proper PPE might cost you just as much as hiring experienced contractors who already own it.
Of course, there are some steps you can take when you find mold. Before the contractor arrives, remove any excess moisture from the area and seal it off.
4. Replacing Your Windows
At first glance, adding a new window may seem like a reasonably simple DIY project. However, there is more that goes into it than meets the eye. You need to size, fit, and seal the windows properly. This is crucial to prevent air from escaping — about 30% of your home’s heating energy is lost through windows. This can cause some chilly nights and increase your utility bills.
Also, if the window isn’t properly installed correctly, they can let water intrusion into your home. This can weaken your structure and lead to mold. If you’ve followed along so far, you already know that mold removal is an investment all on its own.
When hiring a professional, make sure they are certified. Also, get specific information about installation details and material costs. You can make sure the project stays on a budget without having to do it yourself with some good contractor vetting skills.
5. Updating Your Driveway
Since you use your driveway daily, you want to have a sturdy surface. Replacing it can be a complex project and you may not have the right skills and tools. Are you really prepared to rent a concrete mixer and a paver for this project? Probably not.
Also, if you’re not careful, a DIY driveway could end up with an uneven surface or cracks. It takes skill to mix materials correctly and pave/smooth the driveway with minimal issues. At the end of the day, it’s far less costly and more time-effective to outsource this one to professionals.
6. Fixing the Garage Door
Since garage doors are quite heavy on their own — they’re simply not safe projects to attempt to DIY. Garage door specialists can take care of tuneups or major repairs much more quickly and safely.
There are some garage door tips you can safely learn on your own. Homeowners can diagnose a garage problem to save time and money on a consultation. How? First, make sure the door is touching the ground before operating it. Then, learn where the emergency release cord is and lift the garage door up manually to identify where the problem may be.
You will be able to identify slow movement, broken springs, or unusual noises and report them to your mechanic.
7. Upgrading Your Electrical System
Professional electricians have years of experience working with complex systems. If you don’t understand how the wiring works, you could accidentally shock yourself.
Plus, you could rewire the system incorrectly. This leaves your home vulnerable to electrical issues, including fire risk. Improper wiring may also cause tripping breakers or damaged appliances. Plus, working with electrical systems is often a risk hazard.
To find the best electrician, ensure they have relevant training and experience. Before starting the project, verify they have all the necessary permits.
8. Repairing Your Plumbing
Fixing a clogged drain can be a DIY project. However, installing new pipes should be left to the professionals. If you complete the project improperly, it could lead to future leaks or worse. This can cause built-up moisture and increase your risk of mold growth or structural damage.
An inadequate repair job can even cause burst pipes and flooding. Also, keep in mind you may need a permit for specific projects. A professional plumber can help you quickly obtain permits and get the job done right. To find a good plumber, ask for reviews from trusted friends, neighbors, or other professionals you’ve worked with within the home industry.
Best Home Improvement Projects for the Pros
As time goes on, your home may need some updates. Home improvement projects can be a great way to give your space a refresh. While some tasks you can do yourself, others may require assistance. Before starting your next house project, consider whether you need to hire a professional.
When it comes to finding a pro you can trust with your project – GreatBuildz is simplifying the contractor search in Los Angeles, Orange, Ventura & San Diego Counties. GreatBuildz is a free service that connects homeowners with reliable, thoroughly screened contractors and provides project support from start to finish.
Call now (818.317.3567) to chat with a real person about your next renovation project or visit our website for more information: www.greatbuildz.com
Evelyn Long is a home & construction writer from Baltimore, MD. She’s the founder and editor-in-chief of Renovated, a web magazine for the real estate industry.