Princeton Capital Blog

Home Maintenance and Repair: DIY vs The Professional

October 6th, 2016

Man fixing wooden plank withWelcome to the joy of owning your own home. Back when you were a renter, the landlord or management company took care of most everything that needed repairing or maintaining. Now you have the role. Some of you may feel pretty confident with tools and that’s a great first step. But, there’s even some jobs you should think twice about doing.

Home Projects You Should Leave to the Professionals

There are five major tasks you should probably leave to the professionals, unless you are the professional.

  1. Tree removal. This could be an accident waiting to happen especially if the tree is close to your house. Or a powerline. Plus if you’re removing the stump, the roots could cause serious damage as they’re pulled up.
  2. Electrical and plumbing work. People go to school and then work with other qualified professionals for years. It’s a highly skilled profession. Incorrectly done, it could cause a fire hazard or damaged walls due to leaks.
  3. Pool repair and installation. Measurements must be precise, permits and inspections must be passed, and you must consider how the ground and concrete will settle and shift over time. The professional knows how to seal the cracks and has the compounds.
  4. Removing a wall. If the wall is load-bearing or supports any part of the house, or if it holds electrical or plumbing, you could cause serious damage to the structure of your home.
  5. Flooring. You might not know what's underneath your carpet and if the subfloor is damaged or rotten, you could wind up spending thousands in extra costs just to repair it. Laying tile or hardwood properly is another highly skilled profession. They know how to ensure the floor is straight and true.

Start with Maintenance

If you’ve never done any home repair, then look into starting slowly. Some simple maintenance projects you can try yourself are:

  • Replacing washers in dripping sinks
  • Cleaning out your dryer ducts
  • Power wash your walkways, driveways, decks and patios. You could also use it to wash the sides of your house while you’re at it.
  • Replace weather stripping on your windows
  • Replace your furnace filter. Preferably before you turn it on for the cold season.

Home Projects to Try Yourself

As you get comfortable, you can move slowly into more advanced improvements. The best way to learn depends upon your learning style. Some people prefer hands on instruction that you could get at a hardware store. Others prefer reading books with lots of photographs. And still others prefer watching videos. All three could help you fully understand the scope of the job.

You could replace a sink faucet to update the look. The next step is replacing the whole sink to update a bathroom. If you have an old style sink built into a cabinet but would rather have a pedestal sink, it’s straight forward to remove the old and slip in the new.

Another easier job then it sounds is to replace the wax seal underneath the toilet. Just make sure you have a partner to help you lift the toilet straight up and over so water doesn’t spill out of the tank.

To completely change the look of a room, buy some paint, tarps, tape and brushes and rollers. Just paint the walls and leave the ceiling a different color. Painting a ceiling is a bit more advanced. If you’re going to do the whole room, start with the walls until you’re comfortable with the application process. If it all seems daunting, just paint one wall a bold color. Accent walls are pretty popular these days.

If you’re handy with a sewing machine, you could make some new drapes or curtains to quickly change up a room. You could make matching throw pillows. With a glue gun and some fabric, you could reupholster chairs.

As you feel more comfortable, you could remove old cabinets and replace them with more modern ones. If that’s a leap, start with replacing the fixtures on the cabinets. It changes the look of the kitchen.

Outside, you could build some raised bed gardens. And you could convert your sprinkler system to drip line irrigation.

You could change out your front door and your doorbell.

And you could change out the type of light switch. If you don’t like the old fashioned style, you could modernize it or add in a dimmer option. Just remember to turn off the electricity first at the fuse box.

Start slowly and build up your skills and the tools in your toolbox and you’ll be an old hand at home repair in no time.

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