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These 5 Home Improvement Projects Require A Contractor

March 10, 2016 , In: Advice, Repairs , With: 9 Comments

Thinking about undertaking a do-it-yourself project? Are you sure you’re up to the task?

Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of great guides and books out there, not to mention the click hole that is Pinterest.

While handy homeowners can make lots of improvements, some really should be left to experts. If you don’t know what you’re doing, you’re a danger to yourself and your home. 

For these five jobs, play it safe. Call a contractor.Closed Room

Knocking Down a Wall

Doing some remodeling? Tearing out an interior wall might really open up your space.

Don’t go grabbing a sledgehammer quite yet. The wall could simply be a room divider, but it might be holding up a lot of weightIf the wall is load bearing, and you unknowingly knock it out, more than just the wall will come tumbling down. A contractor knows how to determine if a wall has a structural purpose. The wall might also be concealing plumbing, electrical or HVAC components.

Hiring a contractor to assess a wall’s function is comparatively affordable. Just imagine the cost if you mistakenly remove a supporting wall or tear into electrical lines or water pipes. It’s worth the call, right?

Installing a Gas Water Heater

Gas is a perfectly safe fuel for a water heater if it’s set up correctly. But there’s no margin for error.

Mess up the job and suffer the consequences: fire, explosion or a potentially deadly carbon monoxide leak. Carbon monoxide poisoning causes “flu-like” symptoms, such as headache, stomachache, vomiting and dizziness.

There’s worse news: Carbon monoxide can sneak up on sleeping people with deadly results. That’s why a gas water heater requires a competent, experienced installer. Make the call.

Doing Serious Plumbing Work

You can probably put in a new kitchen faucet. However, if you’re doing significant remodeling that involves plumbing, contact an expert.

For instance, bathroom renovations often mean moving sinks, toilets, bathtubs and showers. Initially, it may seem far less expensive to do it yourself. After all, the average bathroom overhaul costs more than $9,000If you botch the plumbing, though, you may not even realize it immediately. Misaligned or poorly tightened pipes can leak into walls or floors causing fairly expensive damage.

You may never know about a mistake until water has weakened the surrounding structure. A simple call prevents this.

Adding or Replacing Electrical Circuits

Sure, you know that when you do electrical work, you need to turn off the main power switch. (You do, right?) Lots of homeowners put in ceiling fans and replace electric switches without incident.

Beyond that, you’re asking for trouble. Major electrical work often requires a permit from your local municipality, and that’s a tip that the job is likely beyond your scope.

The safety issue is another clue. If you’re repairing or expanding your home’s electrical system, you don’t have a lot of wiggle room. You don’t want to risk a house fire or serious (even fatal) electrical shock. Pick up the phone.

Handling Asbestos

Asbestos is a terrific insulator. Unfortunately, if its fibers get into the air, it’s a terrible health hazard. The insulator causes breathing problems, respiratory tract inflammation, lung damage and cancer. Asbestos is not something to fool around with.

When asbestos is sealed up nice and tight, it’s not a problem. The danger appears when those fibers escape. Perhaps a protective barrier disintegrates, an accident or fire occurs, or removal is done improperly.

Don’t open yourself up to a serious health hazard. If you need to get rid of asbestos in your home, contact a contractor.

Hiring a Contractor

You’ve made the smart decision to consult a contractor. Now all you have to do is find a reputable one. Here are some tips:

  • Ask for recommendations. Have friends, family members or coworkers had work done recently? Lots of neighborhoods also have social media connections. Go online and ask around.
  • Check if a prospective contractor has a license and insurance. A license suggests competency, while insurance protects you if a worker gets injured in your home.
  • Find out who’s actually going to do the work. Will the contractor personally send employees, or are subcontractors involved?
    • It’s not bad if the contractor uses specialists for jobs like electrical and plumbing tasks. But it’s your home — this is something you should know.
  • Check out contractors thoroughly. Ask for references from recent or current clients, and then call them. If subcontractors are involved, get their opinions. Look for online reviews, as well.
  • Find out about payment schedules. Ten percent of the total cost upfront is typical. Payments are spread out over the course of the work, with the final fee due upon completion.
  • Get competing bids from the contractors you like. Cheapest is not always best. Notice if the quality of materials is comparable.
  • Before the job starts and before you pay a dime, get it all in writing. Make sure a contract spells out the:
    • Work to be completed
    • Price and payment schedule
    • Materials to be used
    • Time frame

If you’re still debating whether or not to go the contractor route, ask yourself these questions

  • Do I have the knowledge and experience to tackle the job?
  • Do I have enough free time to commit to this project?
  • Is the job potentially dangerous to my home or myself?

If the answer is yes, get on with your Home Improvement era Tim Allen self and go make your house better than ever!

If the answer is no, I’m going to ask you nicely to put the drill down.

Home Improvement GIF

What’s one home improvement project you probably should have called a professional for? Let me know in the comments below!


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Editor at Your Wild Home
Hey! I'm Megan. I am a dog-lover and enjoy exploring the outdoors. Your Wild Home covers a lot of topics, including (but not limited to) home improvement, home decor, construction, real estate, and sustainability. I enjoy writing in third-person and I am addicted to chocolate, coffee, and terrible puns. Learn more on my About Me page!
These 5 Home Improvement Projects Require A Contractor
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These 5 Home Improvement Projects Require A Contractor
Thinking about undertaking a do-it-yourself project? Are you sure you’re up to the task? For these five jobs, play it safe. Call a contractor.
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Your Wild Home
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  1. Reply

    There are some jobs that I highly recommend that you call a contractor in for as they can be very dangerous unless you have had previous experience – i.e. electrical work, asbestos removal. I have known people that have been shocked pretty bad and have had to go to the hospital, trying to fix their own electrical. Great tips, thanks for sharing.

      • Megan
      • March 22, 2016

      I’ve heard those horror stories too 🙁 Thanks for your thoughts, Laurie!

  2. Reply

    This is some great information, and I appreciate your point that asbestos should be removed by a contractor. My husband and I live in an older home, and there is some asbestos in the family room. We want to do some renovations there, so we’ll definitely look into having a professional come to take care of that. Thanks for the great post!

      • Megan
      • April 4, 2016

      Asbestos is definitely a serious concern in older homes. Thanks for your thoughts, Lillian!

  3. Reply

    We have been able to replace our ceiling fans without too much trouble but our next home improvement job will most definitely require an electrician. My husband seems to think that he will be able to do it all himself but I wasn’t aware that bigger projects actually require a permit. We will have to look into what sort of permit we will need for our project.

      • Megan
      • May 25, 2016

      Hey Aria! It can definitely be tricky to determine what kind of project you can take on. DIYing can definitely be rewarding (not to mention cheaper!) but ultimately some projects can be too complicated for non-experts. Thanks for commenting 🙂

    • Sarah Smith
    • July 6, 2016

    My husband and I are planning on updating the insulation in our basement. Thanks for the advice bout how older houses run the risk of asbestos and its best to have a contractor deal with it. We’ll have to see if we can find a contractor within our budget that deals specifically in insulation.

  4. Reply

    I had no idea that major electrical work requires a permit! That is really great to know. My husband and I have been thinking about doing some renovations for a while now and we think that hiring a contractor will definitely help us get things to where we want them. We will be sure to keep this information in mind, thank you for sharing!

      • Megan
      • December 8, 2016

      Thanks for commenting, Danni! 🙂

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