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Three reasons not to attempt a do-it-yourself project

Consumer Reports News: May 07, 2013 03:08 PM

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It's National Home Remodeling Month but don't make the mistake that many homeowners do when they attempt home repairs for which they have neither the skills nor the know-how. Doing so can cost you time and money or even put you in the hospital. Repainting the dining room is likely doable but rewiring the chandelier, probably not. The National Association of Home Builders says there are some jobs that are best left to professionals.

"Remodeling can be complex and often times full of surprises, even for experts like our members," said NAHB Remodelers Chairman Bill Shaw, a remodeler from Houston. Here are some of the hurdles, according to the trade group:

Hidden costs. Some of the products available for the do-it-yourself market, although they carry name brands, aren't the same quality available to contractors. It's also important to verify the terms of the product warranty. Many warranties become void by improper installation.

Safety. Without the proper training and preparation, a do-it-yourselfer can, and has, landed in the emergency room. Unfamiliarity with new tools and techniques can lead to life-threatening accidents. A good rule of thumb for any homeowner is to avoid projects that require a license, such as electrical or plumbing, or those that involve structural changes to walls, roofs or floors.

Time. Troubleshooting unexpected issues often takes more time and expertise than originally planned. Hiring a professional will ensure that you have a contract with a completion date and that the remodeler will bring in whatever help is necessary to get the job finished on time.

Even if you hire a contractor, you can direct him to use the materials you want. Check the results of Consumer Reports' tests of paint, flooring, roofing, siding, decking and more to find the brands and materials that held up best.

Mary H.J. Farrell

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