Undertaking some of your own home maintenance could put you on the fast track to saving money on home repairs, upgrades and everyday upkeep. But in spite of your best intentions, the project could go south. The key to a successful do-it-yourself project is knowing what you’re capable of and what’s beyond your skills, knowledge and experience.
How to Determine What’s Possible
A good starting point with any project is to find out whether contractors who specialize in it need a license. Electricians, plumbers, HVAC contractors and technicians, and roofers in Florida need a license before they can legally offer their services. Each applicant has to pass a knowledge test and show proof of successful, accredited course completion.
Do-it-yourself projects involving these disciplines aren’t for beginners. Taking on an electrical wiring project puts you at risk for home fires or electrocution. Making a mistake with plumbing results in flooding, and HVAC projects often require handling high voltage mechanical components and combustible fuels. Roofing has its own hazards apart from ladder and roofing accidents.
See also 4 Ways to Decrease Maintenance Costs
Does Your Insurance Cover It
The next issue to consider as a property owner is whether your insurance policy will cover the damages if you do the work yourself. Insurance companies have been known to deny claims if the contractor who performed the work wasn’t licensed.
How Much the Tools Cost
Some projects may seem viable, but ask yourself if they would be better done with specialized tools. While painting walls may be a viable do-it-yourself project, painting ceilings isn’t. Painters use special rollers or expensive spray equipment to repaint ceilings. Undertaking it without these tools is laborious and you may not achieve the quality you expect.
Good DIY Home Maintenance Projects
- Home improvement projects and everyday maintenance chores that don’t require a high investment in tools or training that have high payoffs for homeowners include:
- Yard maintenance, like lawn mowing, weeding and pool cleaning.
- Cleaning chores around the house.
- Simple painting projects. Wall painting is fairly easy, but ceiling and exterior painting each offer their own challenges. Unless you’re up for them, it’s probably better to leave them to an expert.
- Air filter changes and outdoor condenser cleaning for the HVAC system. Performing any technical work without a license on the HVAC system may void its warranty.
- Prep work for new flooring like tearing out old carpeting or removing old vinyl flooring or linoleum. If the flooring material predates 1980, have it tested for asbestos before proceeding. If it tests positive, you’ll have to hire experts to remove it. Exposure to asbestos is a leading cause of mesothelioma, a devastating type of lung cancer.
- Ripping out walls or cabinets for a home remodeling project. You can probably save enough money to make the work involved with demolition pay off. It’s easier if you have a truck and a wheelbarrow. It still may pay off to do your own junk removal or demolition even if you have to rent a dumpster.
Picking the projects you can comfortably perform around your home or your rental property not only will save you money, it will also reward you with a sense of accomplishment. But before you take the time to learn a new skill and invest in the tools, remember that some projects require a license and manufacturers may not honor the warranty if the work isn’t performed by a professional.
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