Should you do it yourself or call in a contractor?

April 13, 2009

By Staff

In terms of both the challenge and saving money, home improvement projects can be a temptation to many homeowners. But when should the do-it-yourselfer call a professional?

With 35 years of experience under his belt, Ed Del Grande, expert, cited several situations in which even the most talented amateur should throw in the towel.

“If the job requires working on the roof and you’re not comfortable on the roof, do not go on the roof,” he said. “The same goes for ladders. If you’re not comfortable, don’t do it.

“And don’t put your house in danger by opening up walls. You don’t know what might be behind them,” he added. “There could be pipes, electricity, vents or it might be a bearing wall.”

Working with electricity and wiring are absolutely off-limits, too.

But if you have free time and are reasonably handy around the house, there is much a do-it-yourselfer can accomplish.

“Read up on it and you can tackle most plumbing projects, if they don’t involve pipes in the walls,” he said. “Things like changing faucets are fairly simple, too, as long as the shut-off valves work. And even if you mess up, the worst that happens is you get wet and may have to call the plumber.”

Homeowners can also handle preventive maintenance tasks, such as routinely changing filters on forced air systems and keeping the basement drainage system and sump pump in good working order. These are chores that, if neglected, could cost thousands of dollars in repairs.

Be on the lookout for new products that are easy to put in your home.

“One cool do-it-yourself project is laminate flooring,” Del Grande said. “It just snaps into place without any glue. A couple can get the job done in no time.”

Equipment and time may also affect a homeowner’s ability to do a job.

Bathroom remodels present specific problems. People working on bathrooms are often unaware of water, moisture and mold issues. If you don’t do the job right, you’ll have severe problems.

There are also other factors to consider when wanting to do it yourself. Do you have the time? Do you have the ability to finish the job, or will it just be left hanging?

It takes both time and know-how to be sure work is done properly. If the decision is made to seek professional help, how should a homeowner select a contractor?

Look for companies with a track record of doing good work for a long time. Then, ask for current and past references, and follow up with those clients.

Copyright 2009 Creators News Service

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