There is a huge fascination with DIY home improvement these days, with a new HGTV series popping up almost daily. And DIY is great, but you need to know when to look to the pros. Some projects are more complicated than they might seem when you first get started, and it’s important to know when you are in over your head. Here are a few you should never try to do yourself without the proper expertise or licensure:

Painting Kitchen Cabinets

Granted, the skills required to paint kitchen cabinets are not unlearnable, but you need to realize ahead of time that it is a much more complicated job than painting your bedroom walls. Kitchen cabinets are tricky. Most have years of grease buildup no matter how often you clean them. And depending on how old they are, there may be layers of old sappy varnish underneath that. The prep work alone for this can take days, and if you miss one step, you could find yourself having to redo them in six months. 

Tearing Down Walls

It doesn’t seem like it would be too difficult to tear a wall down. And in fact, laying into a structure with a sledgehammer may even give you some much-needed stress-relief. The problem, however, is that there are all kinds of things going on behind that sheetrock. You have no idea what wires, plumbing, or venting could be lurking back there, not to mention that there are load-bearing walls that could bring down the whole house if taken down. 


You may think you will be saving money by doing your own roof repair, but the truth is that roofing is complicated. If you have not been trained in what to look for and what tools and materials to use, a few YouTube videos are not going to make you an expert, not to mention the fact that a poorly-repaired roof can lead to major damage down the road. And according to Self Help and More, hiring a contractor may not cost much more than doing it yourself, especially by the time you buy the proper supplies and equipment. 

Installing a Dishwasher

If you purchased your dishwasher from an appliance store, chances are that it comes with installation, but if you bought it from a big box store, you are probably on your own. Many people try to install their appliances themselves, but they usually run into problems down the road when they attempt the DIY approach with their dishwashers. There are water lines to connect, electrical components to configure, and sometimes holes to be drilled. Without knowing anything about plumbing, drainage, and how dishwashers work, it will be difficult to handle this project alone. 

Electrical Work

Most of us realize that major electrical work is dangerous, but you’d be surprised at how many people attempt to do some of it themselves. But aside from being dangerous, electrical work done on a home usually requires permits. Failure to take the proper precautions and receive the right licensure could make your house unsafe for inspection should you ever try to sell it, and it can also negate your insurance policy.


According to the NEA, there are four specific questions you should ask yourself before you decide to tackle a home improvement project without hiring a pro:

  • Do you know what you will need for your project?
  • Do you have the proper tools and know how to do the project properly?
  • Do you have the time, and are you physically able?
  • Do you want to handle all the necessary licensing and permits your project requires?

If you answered yes to all these questions, then perhaps you are ready to take care of your home improvement project yourself. Just keep in mind that it is always good to go ahead and get a few estimates first. You might be surprised at how little you will save by doing it on your own.

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