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To Do or Not to Do?

March 22, 2012

I know you want to be a DIY’er, pick up the hammer, screwdriver, chisel, and do it yourself. However, there are times when it is smarter (and safer) for you to pick up the phone to call in an expert.

Yes, labor costs can be over 50% of the budget when it comes to renovations and home repairs. However, if you get hurt or the project doesn’t go well…..Well – you know. It could be 100% of the budget to get things back on track. So, I am going to list below some of the projects you can tackle yourself and which projects may be best left to experts.

Painting and wallpapering: You can do this yourself if you are a patient person. Painting takes time if you want a clean look. If your house was built before 1978 you may have lead paint. Check before scrapping and sanding. Wallpapering is HARD work – be prepared or hire an expert. It is time-consuming and very frustrating. You need to be patient and work slowly. Mistakes are costly.

Wiring: Basic switches, outlets, replacement of a ceiling fan are simply and okay for a novice to try. You should have a basic idea of electricity and how electricity works. Do NOT work in the electrical panel or run new cable. That is to be left up to the expert.

Plumbing: Toilets, sinks, and faucets, are all easy replacements and installations – for the most part. If you are relocating the fixture, or adding piping or installing a new shower, tub, dishwasher – call an expert. It makes for a very bad day when you cause your house to flood.

Cabinets: It is a lot harder than they make it look on the DIY shows. You really do have to have them lined up and level. They are heavier than they look. If you want it done correctly get someone in who knows what they are doing. It does not require an expert but it does require lots, and lots of time, measurements, more time, and more measurements. Work slowly and be patient.

Flooring: Vinyl and laminate can be done fairly easily. Ceramic tile is a bit harder. Wood requires an expert for sure. Any of these are going to require that you can measure, cut corners, use a level correctly, be precise and be patient (that word again).

Tiling: If you have an eye for detail and don’t mind being on your knees if it is a flooring tile job, tiling is for you. The backsplash is simple so that is a definite yes for a basic DIY’er. Grouting is not fun but it is simple to do, adhesive stinks but is simple, and cutting tile takes a bit more skill. This project will be more of a judgment call since only you can decide on how much you want to take on.

So there you have it. My opinion on what you should, or maybe should not do yourself. I know that each of you has her (or his) own set of skills. Start with something small and work your way up. Don’t tackle a project that is too big for you. Hire an expert for the big project. Be smart and safe. Life’s too short to do it any other way.

Here’s to women holding hammers!

Jo Ellen Soesbee, The ToolBox TomGirl

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