10 Home Fixes That Require a Pro

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By Lisa Frederick

We're all for empowering homeowners to take on their own house improvements. You save money, gain confidence and get the satisfaction of custom tailoring your home with your own hands. But when it comes to certain tasks -- plumbing, for instance -- we draw the line. Although these 10 jobs might be within the scope of a very experienced owner, for most of us, they require help from someone who handles them for a living.

1. Foundation repair. If your foundation is in trouble, so is the rest of your house. Wall cracks, sagging ceilings or floors, lopsided doorways and other red flags add up to one solution: a call to a foundation contractor. It's worth investing in professional help to ensure your house remains on sure footing.

2. Electrical wiring. We haven't yet met a builder who thinks that wiring is a DIY job. That doesn't mean you can't replace an old ceiling fan or install a garage door opener -- we're talking about serious, behind-the-walls electrical work. Not only do you need thorough knowledge of the most updated building codes, but the worst-case scenarios are really, really bad (house fire, injury, death). Hire a licensed electrician for your own safety and peace of mind.

3. Removal of a load-bearing wall. Knocking out a wall sounds simple, right? Well, if it's load bearing, meaning it carries and distributes weight, things get a lot more complicated. Eliminating such a wall wipes out support for the ceilings, floors and other structural elements that rest on it -- and that can have disastrous consequences for the entire home. Plus, the wall could contain wiring or ductwork that you don't want to disturb. Leave this tricky and time-consuming job to a remodeling contractor.

4. Major plumbing. Two words: water damage. You can probably install a new faucet, a showerhead or even a toilet, but when it comes to the bigger stuff, pro is the way to go. Pipe connections and other trouble spots can spring leaks that may cost you dearly in the long run. Here's a good rule of thumb: If it involves work behind the walls, don't try to handle it on your own.

5. Natural gas lines. Remember the worst-case scenarios with electrical work? Same with gas. It may sound simple to run a gas line directly to your grill or fire pit, but it isn't. Call the gas company and thank us later.

6. Tile and tub resurfacing. Although this is an affordable alternative to ripping out and replacing dated tile or an old bathtub, don't be tempted to save even more by trying it yourself. From the chemicals used to strip off the old finish to the delicate technique of applying a new one, it's a specialized job that calls for specialized help.

7. Roofing. Besides the fact that roof goofs can wreak costly havoc if they leak, balancing on a steep slope of shingles with a toolbox is dangerous, especially if you're not properly trained. Hire a roofing pro to be sure that the job gets done right and that you won't face a treacherous fall.

8. Tree removal. Smaller trees (say, 10 or 15 feet high) are OK to cut down on your own, but anything larger should have you speed-dialing the tree service. First, amateurs and chainsaws rarely mix well. Then there's the art of gauging where the tree will fall -- miss the mark, and it could hit a power line or crush a wing of your house. And trying to balance up high while you saw off limbs is an ER visit waiting to happen.

9. Stripping old paint. Don't take a chance with this one. Paint that dates from the late 1970s or earlier could contain lead, and breathing in the dust as you scrape it off may lead to health problems. Protect yourself and your family by turning the job over to a licensed lead-abatement contractor.

10. Wood-burning stove or fireplace installation. Fire safety is the biggest concern, but this also is an extremely complex job that requires an understanding of special considerations beyond the fireplace itself, such as insulation. Attempt it yourself, and you're literally playing with fire. And you know what they say about that!

See the original story over at Houzz.

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