Should You DIY It?
When to hang up your weekend warrior hat and leave jobs to the pros
You don't have to be a skilled weekend warrior to tackle some projects around the house. That said, there are certain jobs you should leave to the pros. We spoke to Robert Degni, owner of RAD General Contracting, in New York City, to get his tips on what to attempt yourself and what's best left to the experts.
Go for it! Anyone has the skill to finish a basement or garage. Sheets are relatively easy to hang, but finishing with tape and joint compound can be tricky, so if you go it alone, be ready to live with a few seams or to spend a fair amount of time sanding surfaces totally smooth. "Deciding whether to hang your own drywall comes down to three things: location, patience, and expectations," says Degni.
Replacing fixtures is straightforward, provided you have to shutoff valves and turn off the water first. Sweating and moving pipes is another story. "If you're not comfortable using a torch to solder pipes, don't try it," says Degni. If cost is motivating you to DIY, offer to cut out sections of the wall where the plumber needs access to pipes. You might get a discount.
Call a pro, unless it's an easy job. "An electrician can make determinations you can't," says Degni. In addition to inspecting the condition of wiring, a pro will make sure circuits aren't overloaded and can ensure your service panel will handle any new fixtures. "It's fine to swap out a light fixture; just be sure to turn off the breaker and check wiring with a circuit tester before you work," he adds.