Are you facing a home improvement project that you’re not sure you should tackle? Sometimes doing it yourself turns out to be as simple as watching a tutorial video clip and turning a screwdriver — but other times trying to do things yourself makes a small problem even bigger. Here are some questions to ask yourself before you take on a questionable project.
Have You Done Similar Work?
Knowledge builds with experience, and each small project that you tackle teaches you skills that you’ll need for more sophisticated projects. It’s best to learn in small doses, though, rather than take on major projects when you don’t have skill with any of the steps required. Installing a ceiling fan might be a job for the pros — especially in an older home that doesn’t have standard electrical boxes. But if you’ve already replaced light fixtures, you know about grounding, and you’ve already replaced an older ceiling box with an expandable bracket, then a ceiling fan will be a piece of cake.
What Are the Risks?
There are some downsides inherent in any project. Obviously, if there’s any chance that you might be injured or killed, you should definitely leave that work to a pro who has the tools and training to do it safely. But there are other risks besides those to life and limb. Knocking out the wrong wall or porch support column could damage the structure of your home. If a window or roof isn’t properly installed, water damage could destroy your house. In other cases, your biggest risk is that you’ll ruin the finishing materials you’ve purchased or that you’ll invest so much of your own valuable time that you’d have been better off hiring a pro.
How Much Help Is Available to You?
If you can find only one YouTube clip that shows how to make an appliance repair, what will you do if you get yours taken apart and discover that it doesn’t have the same parts as the one in the video? Don’t take on a repair unless you can find multiple resources to help you, including video clips, text-based articles, a class at your nearest hardware store, and knowledgeable friends.
Are You Just Trying to Save Money?
Do you really enjoy the challenge of mastering DIY skills? Or are you only doing your own repairs to save money? The learning curve can lead to tremendous waste, as anyone who’s ever made three trips to the hardware store in one day to try out a different material knows. There’s also a risk that you’ll spend the money on tools and materials and still have to hire a pro in the end. If your main goal is to save money, you might be better off using other strategies, like making sure you have a home warranty in place to protect your most expensive appliances and systems.
Some jobs are obviously left to the pros, but other times the line is less clear. If you ask yourself these questions and you’re still not sure, you should probably call a professional.