Home Renovations You Definitely Shouldn’t Try on Your Own

Written By: Julian Lane

Nobody will blame you for having grand plans for how to renovate your home. After all, it’s your biggest investment, and you want to maintain its value. What you don’t want is for your efforts to be in vain. Some renovations are best left to the experts, especially when it comes to your home’s value. Major home improvements, such as an updated kitchen, renovated bathroom, and new patio can increase your appraised value, but only if the workmanship is high-quality.

Unless you have a contractor’s license, the following remodeling projects are not DIY-friendly.

Demolition

Many major home renovations involve some sort of demolition process that involves a structure, concrete, or other home feature being torn down and hauled away. This is not something you should take on yourself. For one thing, you could expose wire, pipes, or other elements that can lead to disaster if not handled properly. Plus, the cost of renting equipment for the demolition and hauling your materials away is substantial if you do it yourself — most of the time, you’ll pay the same or less to work with pros who will save you the hard labor and aggravation.

Room addition

If you’re planning to add a room to your home, the potential $80,000 price tag might leave you looking at your toolset thinking that it couldn’t be that hard, could it? Don’t be tempted. The cost of not hiring a professional may be much higher.

Dwell Real Estate explains your homeowners insurance might not cover damages or losses from an unpermitted construction job. Your expansion will also need a permanent foundation, electrical, insulation, ventilation, and a host of other hidden features that you might not consider unless you are a professional builder.

Kitchen remodel

Remodeling your kitchen is much less expensive than adding a room. According to KBR Kitchen & Bath, the average cost to remodel a kitchen is at $22,134. However, the price can run anywhere from $10,000 to $50,000 depending on your location and what you decide to have done.

Keep in mind that this usually includes a complete overhaul: new flooring, new appliances, new cabinets, a new range hood for your island, etc. If you’re not ready to spend that kind of money, you can paint your kitchen cabinets, swap out the old hardware, and change out the appliances for a new look. Anything more complicated than this, and a contractor is your best bet.

Exterior deck

Depending on where you live, you might be prohibited from building a deck without a contractor’s license. And if you do decide to erect an outdoor structure, you’ll have to apply for a permit — many areas have pretty strict rules and regulations when it comes to altering a structure.

Even more alarming than a hefty fine is that a poorly built deck can endanger you and your family. If the footings are not poured properly, for example, your structural integrity will be severely compromised, and that can result in deck failure. All things considered, building a 10 x 12 deck can be expensive, a new wood deck coming in at an average of $14,360 according to House Beautiful. Of course, the cost goes up if you want composite materials, a multi-tiered structure, or custom design.

Plumbing

Plumbing involves working with a complex system of pipes and fittings, and even a small mistake can result in costly repairs. In addition, plumbing work often requires specialized tools and knowledge, both of which most homeowners lack. Even something as seemingly simple as unclogging a drain can quickly turn into a nightmare if done incorrectly.

As a result, it is always best to leave plumbing projects to the professionals. If you’re having an issue with a dripping faucet, leak, or clog, a local plumber could probably repair that in no time. Not only will they be able to complete the work more quickly and efficiently, but they will also be able to identify and fix any potential problems before they cause serious damage. When searching for local plumbers, look for prescreened professionals and be sure to read feedback and reviews from past customers.

HVAC installation

Your home’s HVAC unit is one of its most complex systems and is not something you should install or repair after simply watching a how-to video. You will probably be required to have a license to purchase an HVAC unit, and you also have to have a working knowledge of mechanical, electrical, and plumbing installations, as well as airflow and ventilation.

Tree Removal

At first blush, tree removal may seem like something you can handle on your own. However, this is a job best suited for professionals. Tree removal can be dangerous to you, your family, and your home, especially when dealing with large trees. Instead of doing this task yourself, hand it over to the experts. Make sure that the company you select offers a free estimate.

Tips before beginning a major remodel

  • Interview several contractors for each project. When looking at estimates, compare each cost line by line.
  • Figure out how you’ll pay for renovations. Many homeowners choose to refinance which allows you to give up some equity in your home for a cash payment. If you’re going this route, carefully research house refinance rates.
  • Rent a storage unit if you have a large demolition project. This includes remodeling a bedroom, replacing a severely damaged roof, or expanding a room. This will ensure your personal belongings are not damaged.
  • Book early. Most reputable contractors can’t start a new job within a matter of days. If they can, you may be best off looking elsewhere.
  • Get references. Whether you’re hiring an electrician, plumber, deck builder, or general home remodeler, they should be eager to give you local references and provide photos of their work.
  • Keep notes and receipts. When making upgrades to your home, keep track of what you’re doing — this could result in an increase in your property’s appraisal value if you decide to sell your home.

Your home is an investment, and you should treat it that way. Don’t guess your way through a major renovation. Doing so will only cost you time, money, and equity. Hire a professional for any job that fundamentally changes the structure of your home or affects its major systems.

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