4 DIY home improvement projects to avoid

A do-it-yourself approach to home improvement projects can lower your initial costs. However, for certain jobs, the risks far outweigh the potential savings. If any of these projects are on your to-do list, turn to the pros unless you have adequate experience.

1. Roof replacement

Roofing is extremely hard and dangerous work. Any savings that you can make with a DIY roof replacement can easily be dwarfed by the cost of expensive mistakes or dangerous accidents. In addition to the skills and tools required to do a decent job, you will also need to climb ladders, lift heavy material, and navigate a steep surface high above the ground. The risks include:

  • Serious Injury or Death: Roofers are at one of the highest risks of work-related injuries and death in any profession, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics – and that for trained professionals. In addition to possible slips and falls from a great height, there is also the risk of burns from hot bitumen (a petroleum-based roofing material) and electric shocks from accidentally touching power lines.
  • Warranty Issues: Roofing materials manufacturer warranties may cover processing for a limited time if the materials are installed by qualified contractors, but generally not for DIY installation.
  • Costly damage: Improper material selection or installation can damage the roof. If water gets in, your home’s ceilings, walls, floors, furniture and cables suffer too.

Cost of hiring a professional

Roofers charge about $ 150 to $ 300 per roof area on top of the cost of materials, which typically brings the total price to install a new roof over your existing roof to about $ 5,400 to $ 10,900, according to home services company HomeAdvisor . Removing the old roof or repairing damage can add to these costs.

In some cases, homeowner insurance can cover some or all of these expenses. Opting for cheaper materials can also lower the bill. If you install an energy efficient roof that meets certain criteria, you may receive a tax credit.

2. Mold removal

Everyone got rid of a little bit of mold at some point, and even the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency gives the green light to DIY mold removal for areas under 10 square feet. However, once the mold infestation is widespread, it may be necessary to open walls, lift carpets, or remove fixings to completely remove it and thoroughly clean and dry the room. A DIY approach in this case means risking:

  • Mold exposure: Contact with mold can cause asthma, sore throat, skin reactions, allergic reactions, eye and nose irritation, coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath and other lung problems. This is especially important if you do not have access to the correct protective equipment. During the COVID-19 pandemic, N95 respirators, which provide protection against mold and other particles, were largely unavailable for public purchase.
  • Heavy Chemical Exposure: Chemical cleaners commonly used to kill molds are also harmful to the lungs, eyes, nasal passages, throats, and skin.
  • Exacerbating the problem: improper removal or sealing can release mold spores into the air. When spores get into HVAC systems, mold blows all over the house. Do-it-yourselfers can also miss mold lurking in unexpected places like crawl spaces or floors, which can cause further damage.
  • Incomplete cleaning: If you do not clean properly after work, traces of mold can remain, which simply grow back.

Cost of hiring a professional

According to HomeGuide, a household services referral website, a professional mold remediation generally costs around $ 1,500 to $ 3,150, or $ 15 to $ 30 per square foot.

To make sure the money is well spent, reach out to a skilled, well-rated mold remediation specialist who can do a thorough job.

3. Change of toilet

To install a new toilet, you need to turn off the water. Disconnect, drain and remove the old toilet. and seal and connect the new one. This is a manageable task for someone with basic plumbing skills. But if you’re a DIY newbie, it’s harder. The risks include:

  • Injury: A toilet can weigh about 100 pounds and is awkward to use. Homeowners can be injured when lifting or carrying the toilet.
  • Vapors: Wastewater gases are odorous, unhealthy and possibly flammable. If you don’t stuff a rag in the exposed drain pipe after removing the old toilet, you can be exposed to dangerous fumes – especially in poorly ventilated rooms. (And forgetting to remove the rag before installing the new toilet creates a very annoying installation problem.)
  • Toilet Damage: Improper installation, over-tightening, or simply dropping the toilet can cause serious damage.
  • Leaks and Mold: If the soil isn’t properly sealed, water can seep into the soil, damaging and weakening the area, while creating the right conditions for mold and mildew to grow.

Cost of hiring a professional

The average labor cost for simply installing toilets is anywhere from $ 70 to $ 190, not including the price of the toilet, according to the Thumbtack service market website. Basic problems your plumber finds (such as leaking pipes, a cracked flange, or leaking valves) can add to the cost. It costs around $ 50 to $ 200 to dispose of your old toilet, according to the website.

If you install a water-efficient toilet, you may get a discount from your state that can cover some of these costs.

4. Window change

Replacing draughty old windows can cut your electricity bills – but only if done correctly. Installing a window is a careful process, and mistakes can unexpectedly leave your home vulnerable to the elements. Other pitfalls are:

  • Injury: Windows are heavy and fragile, and there is a risk of injury from broken glass and lifting. Falls from ladders are just as much a problem as injuring passers-by when a window falls on the street.
  • Poor Energy Efficiency: An improper fit or seal can lead to drafts, air leaks and higher energy costs.
  • Water Damage: Poor waterproofing can lead to water leaks that damage the wood, drywall, and even the wiring in your home.
  • House damage: You could accidentally hit a pipe or an electrical line.
  • Warranty Problems: Improper installation of your own windows can invalidate the manufacturer’s warranty in whole or in part.

Cost of hiring a professional

Professional window installation typically costs anywhere from $ 175 to $ 700 per window, but it can be much more expensive for high-end windows, according to Angie’s List, a website that offers recommendations for home services professionals. If the frame needs to be replaced, that’s extra.

Choosing cheaper materials will lower upfront costs. If you move to more energy efficient windows that meet certain specifications and are professionally installed, you can qualify for discounts in some states.

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Roberta Pescow is a writer at NerdWallet. Email: [email protected]

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