4 DIY Home Improvement Projects to Avoid

For these tasks, you'll want to hire a professional to make sure everything's done safely and correctly.
Roberta PescowDec 9, 2020

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A do-it-yourself approach for home improvement projects may reduce your initial costs — but for certain jobs, the risks far outweigh any potential savings. If any of these projects are on your to-do list, call in the pros unless you’ve got plenty of related experience.

Roofing is extremely hard and dangerous work. Any upfront savings you might get with a DIY could easily be eclipsed by the costs of making expensive mistakes or causing dangerous accidents. Aside from having the skills and tools needed to do a decent job, you'll also need to climb ladders, lift heavy materials and navigate a steeply pitched surface high above the ground. Risks include:

Roofers charge about $150 to $300 per roofing square in addition to the cost of materials, which typically brings the total price of installing a new roof over your existing one to about $5,400 to $10,900, according to the home services company HomeAdvisor. Removing the old roof or repairing damage can add to that cost.

In some cases, homeowners insurance might cover some or all of these expenses. Opting for less-expensive materials can also lower the bill. And if you’re installing an energy-efficient roof that meets certain criteria, you might qualify for a tax credit.

Everyone's cleaned up a bit of mold at some point, and even the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency gives the green light on DIY mold removal for areas under 10 square feet. But once mold infestation becomes widespread, it might become necessary to open up walls, lift up carpeting or take out fixtures to fully remove it and clean and dry the space thoroughly. A DIY approach, in this case, means risking:

Professional mold remediation generally costs about $1,500 to $3,150, or $15 to $30 per square foot, according to HomeGuide, a home services referral website.

To make sure that money is well-spent, go with an experienced, well-reviewed mold remediation specialist who can do a thorough job.

To install a new toilet, you'll have to shut off the water; disconnect, drain and remove the old toilet; and seal and connect the new one. That's a manageable task for someone with basic plumbing knowledge. But if you're a DIY newbie, it's trickier. Risks include:

The average labor cost for basic toilet installation runs between $70 and $190, according to the services marketplace website Thumbtack, and that doesn’t include the price of the toilet. Underlying problems your plumber finds (such as leaky pipes, a cracked flange or leaky valves) can increase costs; disposing of your old toilet also runs about $50 to $200, the site notes.

If you're installing a water-saving toilet, you might qualify for a, which could defray some of these costs.

can reduce your utility bills — but only if it’s done correctly. Installing a window is a meticulous process, and any mistakes may leave your home unexpectedly vulnerable to the elements. Other pitfalls include:

Professional window installation usually runs between $175 to $700 per window, but can be much more expensive for high-end windows, according to Angie's List, a website that provides referrals for home services pros. If the frame needs to be replaced, that's extra.

Choosing less-expensive materials reduces upfront costs. And if you're switching to more energy-efficient windows that meet certain specifications and are professionally installed, you might qualify for rebates in some states.

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