My New Outside Blog: When Should I Call In A Professional For A Home Repair?

When Should I Call In A Professional For A Home Repair?

Jason writes a well thought out blog about repairs. Tell your sellers about this post.

If you are handy, that's one thing. If you have a garage full of tools that show signs of actual use, then good.

But, if you are like a lot of us, and are "normal" when it comes to actually doing something more complicated than changing a light bulb, call someone!

That someone can be a super hi tech licensed repair company, or a trusted handyman.

 Good ones are out there and usually, thru word of mouth, stay busy. Get references if you don't have personal experience with the handyman.

I try to use a handyman myself on something so I will have a first hand experience to relate to a client.

When Should I Call In A Professional For A Home Repair?

Most homeowners like to turn as many home improvements as possible into a DIY project. The economy has been tight, jobs and finances uncertain, and, let's face it, there is a fantastic feeling of accomplishment doing something to the house.

But some tasks are simply too risky for a do-it-yourselfer. There are certain home repairs are dangerous to get involved with unless you have specialized training to safely complete them.

Let's take a look at what qualifies as DIY, and what requires a professional. At least, in my opinion.

a licensed and insured pro


Be Aware Of The Risks

Homeowners need to follow the basic safety rules, just like the pros do. Most home repair projects contain many potential dangers for a homeowner who ignores this advice. And I'm not just talking things like using power tools the right way and wearing safety glasses. This also includes not taking on something that the homeowner isn't qualified to do.

Wiring incorrectly can start a fire. Digging a hole may rupture the gas line. Messing with the furnace can lead to leaking carbon monoxide. Discarded rags soaked in different chemicals can spontaneously combust if not disposed of correctly.

It may be old and cliche, but it is true: the most important element in safely carrying out home repairs is the human element. Homeowners can take on many home repairs without requiring a professional, but they must understand the risks.


Environmental Issues

Do you have a flooded basement? Don't take a pizza and a six-pack to your neighbor in exchange for borrowing his wet/dry vac. Hire a professional water extraction company. Not only must the water be removed, but the humidity must be lowered below a specific level to prevent the growth of mold. The fans and dehumidifiers available to homeowners just won't cut it.

Speaking of mold, homeowners shouldn't ignore mold problems in the house. Get a pro to remediate the problem. A bottle of Clorox just isn't going to get rid of the problem... mold is there because of an underlying cause -- either extremely high humidity or a water intrustion. Don't just get rid of the mold -- get rid of the underlying problem.

Do you have asbestos building products? You can't tell if a material contains asbestos merely by looking at it, and any older home may have asbestos-containing flooring, insulation or ceiling texture. And you don't want to mess with asbestos fibers unless you've been trained to handle the dangers.

If your home was built prior to 1978, chances are good that at least one layer of paint contains lead. Lead dust can be especially hazardous to children. All renovation contractors working in a pre-1978 home have to be trained and licensed in how to safely work with, and contain, lead. Homeowners might want to consider hiring a professional for anything that might disturb and spread lead dust.

Also keep in mind that some states and federal law may restrict a homeowner from doing any work that disturbs asbestos or lead, even in their own home (under certain circumstances).


Insurance Issues

Be aware that in some states, DIY work may be excluded from an insurance policy. For example, a brother-in-law may be super-handy, but hiring him to re-wire the house (if he isn't licensed) may keep a homeowner's insurance policy from covering damage caused in fires.

In fact, let me run off on a tangent and state that homeowners should use only licensed and insured professional contractors. Unlicensed Pete may offer good prices, but using him may open a whole mess of troubles. Sure, there can be trouble with a licensed contractor, too, but ultimately, they don't want to tick off the State Board and lose their license and ability to earn a living. Unlicensed Pete just moves on to the next neighborhood.

Homeowners need to read that fine print and talk to their agent. Know what the insurance company expects.


Reaching For The Skies

Ladders are dangerous. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are hundreds of deaths annually due to falls from ladders, roofs and scaffolding -- but this numbers only include professionals! It doesn't include homeowners who were killed or injured from falls.

Newer ladders have "safety and use directions" on a sticker attached to the ladder. If you plan on doing any work involving ladders -- particularly extension ladders -- observe ladder safety and be aware of your limitations.

I've fallen off a ladder on two different occasions. It hurts. Real bad.

Fortunately, I learned ladder safety about 20 years ago, and I haven't fallen off since. But based on my experience, I'll state this: If a homeowner is uncomfortable on a ladder, call a pro.

Circumstances Beyond Your Control

Hurricanes. Earthquakes. Floods. These can make a house structurally unsafe and dangerous -- so let a licensed and insured professional make the repairs.


The Bottom Line

It may be tempting for a homeowner to do home repairs in-house to save money, but it isn't always be as cheap as expected. And a messed up job doesn't do much when it comes time to sell the house, either.

Licensed and insured professional contractors have the tools, equipment and expertise to come in and do the job efficiently and safely. Buying or renting equipment to get the job done right can be expensive, and if the homeowner doesn't have the experience and skill, the job will take much longer than expected.


Jason Channell     Twitter - Home Inspection LinkedIn Twitter - Home Inspection

Diadem Property Inspections
(888) 699-8710

Learn more:

Learn more:

Michigan Builder's License 2101198700
Environmental Solutions Association 3818 -- Certified Mold Inspector & Assessor, Certified Allergen Inspector
International Indoor Air Quality Commission CC1983 --  Indoor Environmental Certified Consultant


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Comment balloon 1 commentJon Quist • January 24 2011 03:10AM


Hi Jon, excellent post on home repairs, thanks for putting it up again.

Posted by Dan Edward Phillips, Realtor and Broker/Owner (Dan Edward Phillips) about 9 years ago

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