4 Home Improvement Jobs You Should ALWAYS Hire Out

by | BiggerPockets.com

I am a huge fan of doing it yourself. My husband and I have flipped numerous houses, but on a fairly small scale, one home at a time and doing almost all of the work ourselves. YouTube is a great source of information—there are videos for just about any task on that site. But just because you KNOW how to do something doesn’t mean it makes sense for you to do it yourself.

Here are four jobs we have attempted at least once—and will never again do ourselves.

4 Home Improvement Jobs You Should Always Hire Out

1. Gutters

The material cost at the local big box store was about $400 less than the quote we received for gutters on our house. We decided we could save that $400 and went ahead and bought all the parts (mistake #1). We thought, “How hard could it be?” We chose metal gutters (mistake #2).

The gutters themselves only come in 10 ft long sections, and as none of our roofline measures only 10 feet, we had to slide the sections together. They are metal and must be riveted together in order to stay. More supplies and more chance to misalign (and mistake #3).

By the time we carried this giant piece to the backyard where we were going to install it, we were bleeding, the gutter looked horrible, and I had silicon caulk all over my hands. (Note: silicon caulk is not easily removed, as it is waterproof.)

As we held this piece up to the roofline, we realized we would need about 17 more hands in order to install this. We quietly took the giant gutter back to the front yard, packed all unused materials into the car and returned them. We called the gutter company. They came out and installed seamless gutters in about 12 minutes. They didn’t bleed on anything, either.


2. Roofing

Roofing materials weigh hundreds of pounds, and getting them to the roof is an enormous ordeal. Removing the original roof is a giant task as well. Reputable roofing companies assemble teams of experienced roofers to remove the old and install the new, minimizing the chance that water will get into your home while it is uncovered.

Related: Do You Know Which Home Improvements Will Pay Off?

Our neighbor needed his roof replaced after a hail storm. He hired a roofing company that came out, assessed the job, and chose a crew that could finish the whole thing in one day. They arrived fairly early in the morning and started ripping off the roof. As they finished removing one section of roof, the installers got to work, putting down new roof paper and starting on the shingles. The first section of roof was installed before the last section was removed. One cloudless day had the entire job done and done right. They cleaned up the heavy, old roof and took away all materials. When they left, the only evidence they had even been there was the new roof.

3. Drywall

Drywall is a dusty, dirty job. The sheets of drywall are heavy—hanging it on the ceiling requires a lot of strength. Getting a smooth finish is an art. Getting a good finish with texture requires skill. It is very easy to do wrong and very time consuming for the novice to do correctly.

Our home was built in the early ’60’s. They used some sort of drywall artist to finish the walls. When we replaced the out-of-date supports, we had to open up some walls. Once those walls were closed, we needed to match the drywall finish as closely as possible. We didn’t have any clue how the finish had been applied. The drywall company we called employs several finishers, and they knew they had to use their most experienced finisher to complete this job. We have a stellar-looking house now because we knew our limitations. They completed in three days a task that would have taken us at least 2 weeks to accomplish, with the result likely not looking even half as good.

I do think it is worth learning how to repair small holes, but trying to match a finish is difficult if this isn’t something you do frequently.


4. Sewer

In the state of Colorado, the homeowner is responsible for the sewer line from the house until it gets to the main line, usually in the street. When we bought our house, we didn’t have a sewer scope. We should have, which would have told us the line was almost completely clogged and needed to be rooted out. (We bought it in foreclosure, and the very old trees and shrubs growing DIRECTLY on top of the line should have been a clue.)

Related: 4 Mobile Home Improvements for Landlords That Are Worth Their Weight In Gold

We discovered this on a Friday morning not long after we moved in, when the (only) toilet backed up all over the bathroom floor. We rented a sewer scope/snake and started. We thought we had it cleared, but when we flushed, it all came back up over the top again. It was getting late, my father-in-law was staying with us, and we have two small children. Not having a toilet wasn’t an option. So we called the sewer guys.

Roto Rooter came out and snaked the line. It took several hours, and the aroma from the open line to the sewer was overwhelming. That guy definitely did not get paid enough for that job.

There are plenty of tasks that you can do yourself, but knowing your limitations can save you thousands of dollars and tons of headaches.

We’re republishing this article to help out our newer readers.

What are some jobs you always hire out? Have any stories about projects you wish you hadn’t tried on your own?

Don’t forget to leave a comment below!

About Author

Mindy Jensen

Mindy Jensen has been buying and selling homes for almost 20 years. She buys houses, moves in, makes them beautiful, sells them, and starts the process all over again. She is a licensed real estate agent in Colorado, author of How to Sell Your Home, and the community manager for BiggerPockets.com, where she helps new and experienced investors learn the proper ways to invest in real estate to grow their wealth. Mindy is an alumnus of the School of Hard Knocks and will happily share her experiences with anyone who asks. When you can get her to stop talking about real estate, you can find her on her bike or adventuring in the beautiful mountains of Colorado.


  1. Another task that can get away on you is concrete finishing. More heavy work and it seems a few minutes can make the difference between naughty and nice…I do the prep but let the concrete guys place and finish.

        • Mindy Jensen

          Nathan, that is money well spent. I have had my fair share of home improvement projects that went wrong, but I could always fix them. This one was monumental! And I couldn’t fix it! And it was Friday night! And we only have one toilet!!!

  2. Paul Ewing

    Having done all of these, the only one I would almost always hire out is the sewer cleaning mostly because it can be pretty nasty occasionally and I would have to rent the equipment anyway. All the rest is mostly pretty basic skills. Now if you are in a position where your time is more valuable on other tasks than what it will cost to do these things then hire them out, but those of use starting out or staying at a stable situation with extra time these are not the things I would have expected. I was expecting the article to be things like foundation repair, house leveling, AC repair, major electrical without the experience, etc.

    • Mindy Jensen

      Thanks for reading, Paul.
      I agree that all these skills can be done yourself. I think it is valuable to know how to do as many different home improvement tasks as possible. Honestly, I didn’t even think of foundation repair or house leveling. Those are not issues I have ever had to fix – mostly because I stay away from houses with those problems. I would absolutely hire those jobs out, too.

    • Mindy Jensen

      Thanks for reading, Tyler.
      Electrical and plumbing don’t necessarily have to be hired out. My experience has me living in the homes I fix for two years to avoid capital gains taxes. Conveniently, if I am fixing my own home, I can to the work myself. It has to pass inspection, which it did. My father-in-law is an electrician, so I realize I have a huge advantage there.

  3. These are definitely the big four. I have done them all in 40 years of real estate investing. When I was much younger it was good learning experience. Today being much older I have learned to hire people to do these fout things. They also know I cant be fooled because I have been thru it.

    • Mindy Jensen

      I am an advocate for DIY. We do almost all of the work ourselves – mostly because finding someone who can do the work well is next to impossible. We have found good suppliers for all four of these jobs, and my heart sings at the thought of never doing drywall again.

  4. Alan Mackenthun

    Sadistic as it is I do like to re shingle a roof occasionally. Otherwise, I agree. Someone mentioned concrete and I agree. I can switch out fixtures just fine but have found that having a professional come in to install new recessed lighting or an extra switch or outlet can make a lot of sense. Sometimes it helps a property work a lot better.

  5. Jonna Weber

    You brought up points I had never even thought about before! I wasn’t planning to ever tackle any of these things myself….and now I will advise my clients against it as well. There are companies that specialize exclusively in these exact jobs for a reason.

  6. Here’s another one I *ALWAYS* hire out: Tar & gravel roofs. Jerry don’t mess with hot tar.
    On the other hand, I have taken steps to master trades that interest me –
    electrical, HVAC ( cracked the books, took the EPA test, am now a licensed professional ), locksmithing –
    every property has a key machine, and I learned how – and trained my staff how – to rekey.

  7. JP Hill

    I have tried installing carpet. It was easy enough to remove the old carpet and prep the tack strips for the new job, but getting new carpet properly streched is tough. Seams between rooms never look as good, and stairs are for pros only. I have hired carpet pros every since the first lesson.

  8. Darren Sager

    Gutters are easy! Next time if you decide to handle this just get a company to do drop off service and cut the gutters to length so you have a seamless system. Unless you have a lot of corners (which can be tricky) hanging gutters is not much different than hanging a picture.

    Good thing you stayed away from doing the sewer, that job stinks (literally)!

    • Mindy Jensen

      Darren, that is a good idea. However, I have a lot of weird angles on the house. I love to save money, but I also have no problem spending it when I can’t do as good a job. And these guys were about 1000% faster than I ever could have been. I don’t shop at the Tall-Girl stores…

    • Mindy Jensen

      It depends on how easy it is to get to the joists. I have a crawlspace and it is about 4 feet tall. Not very easy to get those large boards in, but luckily my joists weren’t rotted very much. One spot, and it was easy to slide a board in through the top, then sister to the good parts of the board with construction adhesive and lag bolts.

      Extensive damage may have had me hiring that one out too.

      Good luck, Dan!

  9. While I always strive to be a go-getter and perform as many DIY projects as possible, this post makes some good points about hiring out instead of DIY. Like especially when it comes to doing roofing in the hot sun or worse, sewer work. For me that’s something I’d gladly pay a little extra for. I do like to save money, But I also like to save headaches as well. Thanks for the good article.

  10. John Murray

    Bunch of unskilled sissies. I do all my own demo, I’m journey electrician, I dig ditches and replace sewer laterals, rough and finish plumbing, rough and finish carpentry, landscape, shoot paint, hydrojet clogs and any other grunt work that I need to do. OKone thing, finish roofing that the extent of my sissy. attitude.

  11. Wilson Churchill

    Plastic gutters are pretty easy to install, at least on small houses. Drywall is not bad either, if you’re just hanging it on bare studs or over existing wall. I do roofing only because I am still young enough. I may pay extra for a roof delivery next time, though. Patching roofing is easy. If I owned dozens or hundreds of units, I would have no choice but to hire everything out. But since I’m only managing about a dozen, I have time to get my hands dirty. I need the exercise anyways. It’s fun to do a bath or kitchen remodel and for people to like the results.

  12. Tim Niemela

    How about having the roto rooter guys fail to unclog the plugged sewer line getting stuck about 70 ft in with every sharp head they have! this happened to me on my duplex and ended up digging up 120ft of concrete sewer line and replacing with PVC. luckily I knew someone with a large excavator and had an operator so I was able to save lots on the project but I spent countless work hours myself helping on this project to get it done quick since I had renters!

  13. Many people watch TV and see some of these jobs completed and they believe all it takes is one Saturday morning. If you have the slightest doubt don’t try it. I have worked in residential construction for over 20 years. Jobs usually take at least twice as long and cost twice as much as you think.

  14. Merritt S.

    Some good insights. I laughed at the blood on the gutter comment.

    Gutters are not that tough, but you do need to know the tricks and its true that a contractor will have it done in a fraction of the time it will take a novice. LOL – you learned the hard way that seamless is the only way to go.

    Roofing is great to hire out for all the reasons you stated. You missed the fact that roofing is the single most accident prone home project – pretty much each and every roofer has a falling-off-the-roof story to tell. However, if you need to lose a few pounds, it’s not rocket science and could save you thousands if you have the time and tarps.

    I think drywall is easy enough, the mud is an entirely different animal. Id say it depends on how much of it you need to have done. It is messy. Definitely another task a contractor will finish in much less time than a novice.

    Sewer. I think there are two sides of this story. In simple cases, it is certainly easier to just call someone and pay $50-$150 bucks more than a rental to have them do it. However, they may just get the water to run and leave, then it clogs again a month later. You have to make sure the entire pipe is clear of all the roots, then kill the roots or even better cut the trees down, or else it will be a reoccurring problem. Also, if you have to call a plumber on a holiday, which as Murphys Law would have it is when pipes like to back up, you may pay double or triple or may not even be able to get anyone right away. Knowing how to snake a drain could come in handy if you have guests coming over.

  15. Daniel L Brown

    Dig the holes to fix a foundation. All four of the items in the article had me laughing so much, because I have experienced the tasks before. About the sixth bundle of asphalt hauling on a ladder to the roof really make you question your sanity.

  16. Billy P Whyde

    Not mentioned is the real advantage of contracting out the repairs you listed.
    1. The possible death or injury to another human is reduced.
    2. Work associated risk. Do it yourself, offer a few bucks for helpers and someone gets injured, hello to a possible nasty lawsuit you may end up paying for for the rest of your life not to mention your state government and workers compensation. Criminal prosecution as well.
    3 A legal contractor will usually offer quality workmanship while complying with labor laws.
    4. A legal cost of the repair that can be used in a tax audit. A $14K roof job write off with no documentation might just set the off a deeper audit in taxes.

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