Are You a DIY Disaster Waiting to Happen?

If Pinterest makes it look possible, then home improvement shows make DIY look downright easy. Repaint the outside of your home? Replace the hallway chandelier? Add on a deck? No problem… if you have the right skill set.

Television personality, designer, and DIY diva Kelly Edwards says there are absolutely places where it makes sense to tackle home projects on your own, but other times when you need to put down the power saw and call in a professional.

When to Call In The Pros

When it comes to major plumbing, electrical, roof, and structural work, that’s when you should summon someone with the right expertise, licensing, and bonding. There’s just too much that can go wrong, and it can become disastrous if those things aren’t done right. The person who decides to rewire his home via how-to videos, for example, can start a fire; someone who wants to take out a wall by bringing some buddies over and slinging the sledgehammers for a new basement rec room can be looking at six figures in foundational damages.

And if there’s ever a mold issue in your home, run – do not walk – to your nearest removal expert.

“Anything mold related can be dangerous. I always call someone in when I see any mold,” Edwards said.

Outside of those three “must call a pro” types of work, the general rule about calling in the pros is to weigh your expertise, time, and money. How long will your learning curve be? How much time can you spend on a project – and can you afford to hire someone?

“If it will take me longer to figure it out sometimes I’ll just call in the big guns. I know it’ll get done right and on time,” Edwards said.

Some improvements can also add value to your home after the initial investments. For example, there are energy-saving upgrades that can earn you tax credits and save you money on your bills. Also check out’s Cost vs. Value report to see which investments pay you back when you sell your home. For example, replacing a garage door returns nearly 99%, but adding a master suite might only get you half your money back.

Beginner-Friendly DIY Ideas

Edwards says there are simple DIY tricks that can add charm and value to your home for a fraction of hiring a professional.
“If you are new to the DIY world, but are looking to save some money, projects you can do that transform the space are painting, changing out hardware on cabinetry, general landscaping, and curb appeal,” she says.

Installing and refinishing floors are generally safe ventures to try yourself.

“Everyone loves hardwood. It makes the home look more expensive,” she said.

If you’re not willing to commit to the expense, her favorite non-wood alternative is called Allure, vinyl flooring that looks like wood that’s easy to install – no power tools necessary.

To make it look like you hired a designer, wallpaper a wall or the entire powder room and swap out old fixtures for shiny new ones.

“Polished nickel fixtures and finishes work wonders,” Edwards said.

You can maximize your outdoor space by building a pergola and/or installing an outdoor fire pit.

“It gives your backyard more of a resort feel. Your guests will love to sit outside during the day under the shade and around the fire at night enjoying a glass of wine,” she said.

And finally – when you upgrade your lighting fixtures, you can create new a new mood in a room. Though it involves a basic working knowledge of electricity and being able to follow a diagnostic drawing, you can also switch out lighting fixtures on your own.

“Changing out lighting fixtures can completely transform your space,” Edwards said.

Keep in mind that scouring the internet for “pinspiration” can overwhelm you as much as it can energize you. When it comes to DIY, start small, keep it simple, and let your first success lead you to your next one.

(Photo by Russ Hendricks)

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