5 types of DIY projects that could cost you a fortune

Family-Friendly Kitchen Remodel for Under $77,000

It's summertime, which in addition to road trips and backyard barbecues, is the season for DIY. All told, Americans will likely spend more than $300 billion on home improvement this year – of which 17 percent will be on do-it-yourself projects, according the Harvard University Joint Center for Housing Studies. That means lots of homeowners up on ladders, watching how-to videos online and making multiple trips to the big-box home supply store to pick up supplies and materials they forgot to pick up the first (or second or third) visit.

Before you join them on the rung and in the aisles, make sure the project you are planning to DIY to save money won't actually end up costing you in the long run.

1. Jobs that exceed your skills.

The proliferation of YouTube how-to videos has been a boon to the persistent home improvement do-it-yourselfer. In just a few mouse clicks you can be face-to-face with a knowledgeable expert who takes you step-by-step through a project, from caulking the tub, to installing a skylight. Unfortunately, there's no way to tell how expert any given YouTube "expert" actually is. Worse, even if the expert is knowledgeable and skilled, every home repair and maintenance project is different. As soon as your job fails to follow the script, you're on your own. A pro has the necessary experience, tools and supplies to roll with the punches. Most DIYers probably don't.

The costs? Poor bathtub caulking will soon cause leaks behind the tub or shower floor, where it's hidden from view, and result in hefty repair bills for damaged walls and floor joists. And while the YouTuber makes that skylight installation look easy, it's easy for us on the ground to lose sight of the fact that the job is up on the roof, where falling is easy, too.

2. Jobs that are dangerous.

A professional roofer will have the tools and the experience to do the job competently and safely. Most DIYers will have neither, which makes doing the job well and safely unlikely. Some electrical work falls into this category, with the danger occurring both during the work and afterward when poor workmanship can lead to risk of fire.

Some other dangerous DIY jobs to think twice about, according to the DIY experts at BobVila.com, include major tree trimming, interior wall removal, pest abatement and gas pipe repair or removal.

No savings on home maintenance and repair are worth risking life and limb. If you're unsure, or don't understand the risk involved, hire a pro. It'll be cheaper in the long run.

3. Stuff that isn't fun.

Everybody's idea of fun is different. If you enjoy laying down hundreds of pavers for your new back patio, go for it. Learn all you can about the process and set to it. If you decide after a few courses that you do not enjoy it and dread the hours of tedium ahead, put down the stone and consider hiring a pro. Your time is valuable. Spend it on a DIY job you do enjoy, or focus your effort on developing your barbecue recipe. While persistence and determination are admirable, sticking with a job you hate too often leads to distraction and ultimately shoddy work you'll pay for again later.

4. Big jobs that seem easy.

This goes hand-in-hand with taking on jobs for which the DIYer lacks the necessary skills. How hard could a bathroom or kitchen renovation really be? How difficult is putting up a fence, installing a deck or replacing the main sewer line?

Plenty difficult – and expensive, too. From the tools required to the supplies needed for the project, the costs for big jobs can mount, and for DIYers new to the work, estimating beforehand is not straightforward. Online project calculators can get you part of the way there, but every project is different and some DIYers lack the experience to adjust on the fly. That means more tools to buy, more supplies and more time finishing the project.

5. DIY jobs that require permits.

Permit requirements vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction – and many DIYers may not consider permits before diving into their kitchen or bathroom renovation. According to the National Association of Realtors, failure to get the proper permits can make it harder to sell a home later, as banks will be reluctant to loan money for unpermitted improvements. Worse, unpermitted improvements could result in lawsuits post-sale.

Reliable contractors will take care of the permits and the paperwork. Whether you do the project yourself, or hire a pro, it's a good idea to meet with your local building or planning department to discuss the improvement project beforehand. You'll understand the permit requirements before starting, and you can apply for the permits yourself, saving you a little money on contractor fees.

Copyright 2015 U.S. News & World Report

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