One of the great sources of anxiety for homeowners is the prospect of expensive maintenance. Whether it’s an appliance failure, a problem with heating and cooling, or a leaky roof, we shudder at the thought of a huge bill for repairs. Our worries become even greater when we ultimately find out we could have done the work ourselves.
So it pays in both financial and emotional terms to know which jobs are solved with a flashlight and a screwdriver and which ones warrant a call to the experts. It’s impossible to name every potential task and assess it, but we can establish some broad guidelines that will help you decide.
The Specialization of the Problem
It’s one thing to do your own electrical work when a breaker blows or a switch stops working. It’s another to attempt it when you’re dealing with the entire breaker box or your connection to the utility. The more specialized the work, the better the chance you’ll be better off to hire someone.
Consider pest control. It’s one thing to handle a routine outbreak of ants after the kids spill a jug of orange juice. It’s entirely different to take on a colony of fire ants or to deal with a termite infestation. That’s the time to call in a professional. If you happen to live in Southern California, look for a pest control company in Orange County that residents seek out when they encounter a bigger pest problem.
The Scale of the Problem
We’ve all had a door swing too far and jab a hole in the drywall with the knob. Even a really poor job of repairing that hole can look decent. But when someone has fallen through the ceiling from the attic (probably while trying to fix something else), it’s time to get a professional drywaller to hang new sheets and to properly texture them or prep them for painting.
Think about outside. A few weeds in the crack of a sidewalk is no big deal, but a full-yard epidemic of dandelions is more than you will want to bite off. You can trim the trees, but you don’t want to be the one who cuts them down. You get the idea: When it’s a big job, it’s a professional’s job.
The Danger of the Problem
Many home repairs and maintenance tasks are dangerous, and that alone–regardless of the relative simplicity or difficulty of the task itself–is reason enough to let a professional take care of it. DIY accidents get a lot of people hurt each year.
Bear in mind that you’ll want to make sure your homeowners’ insurance is valid for any potential claims, and only hire someone who can show proof of their own workers’ compensation coverage.
Let’s review some of the examples we’ve looked at so far. Pesticides are dangerous substances. If you have to apply them in a confined space, let a pro do it. If that tiny hole in your sheetrock is 14 feet above the floor in your vaulted foyer, let a pro do it.
The Urgency of the Problem
There are a lot of things that almost anyone with basic mechanical skill can learn to do. A little research online, maybe some advice from an experienced friend, and sometimes reading up can indeed qualify you to do some things yourself.
But what’s your time frame? Can that blown capacitor in your heat pump really wait until you have had time to read up on it, remove the old one, order a new one, and install it? Especially in the context of soccer practice, overtime at work, and a 90-degree heat wave?
When time is tight, call a pro.
It is smart to save money on home repairs when you can. The money you hang on to will be available for those major repairs when you do need an expert. But don’t let that spur you to take on more than you should. When in doubt, hire somebody.