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.
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4 Home Improvement Jobs You Should Always Hire Out
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.)
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.
[Editor’s Note: We are 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?
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