When DIY Ends Up Costing Extra

Sometimes, calling in the pros can save money and prevent catastrophes.

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It seems like nearly every real estate TV show and magazine is dedicated to do-it-yourself home improvement. And while tackling home projects on your own can help save money, it can also end up costing you more if your DIY project goes wrong and you have to pay the professional to fix that and take care of the original issue.

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When you are eying your next home project, consider your experience, your time, and the tools you have lying around to help you determine whether calling the pros would be worth it in the long run. Here are a few times when calling a professional is a better idea than taking care of a project yourself:

When to call a plumber:

While it’s relatively easy to replace a faucet, or even tighten a pipe below the sink, once you go anywhere beyond that, it’s highly recommended that you call in someone who knows what they’re doing. If you run into any of the following situations, it's probably time to call in an expert: 

  • You can’t unclog a drain or toilet after several attempts. This could be a serious blockage in the sewer or main line.
  • There’s a problem with the gas line, water pump, or water heater. All three are very sensitive and possibly dangerous if handled in the wrong way.
  • You have busted, cracked or damaged pipes.
  • When to call an electrician: 

    Few homeowners feel comfortable doing anything beyond installing a light fixture. Handling electrical lines are obviously dangerous, so call an electrician if:

    • Your lights are dimming, which could mean a problem with voltage
    • You want any rewiring done or would like to install a new outlet
    • There is anything you feel uncomfortable doing. This is a safety issue more than anything else.
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      When to call a contractor:

      They tear down walls themselves on HGTV, but television doesn’t always mirror reality. If you’re considering a remodel or drastic change to your home, it may not be worth it to try it on your own, especially if you have little experience. Your attempt—even at building a deck—could end up being unsafe or unsightly, both of which can drag down your home value.

      Whether you call in a pro or deal with it on your own is up to you. But if you ever feel nervous about a project or don’t think you have time to complete it, save yourself the hassle and bring in the pros—it could help you save money in the long haul.

      Erika Riggs is a contributor to the Zillow Blog, a resource for real estate and mortgage news. Twitter: @zillow.