Life as a homeowner means consistently performing home maintenance, but despite what many YouTube videos claim, not every task makes a great do-it-yourself project. Although a quick Internet search reveals many how-to articles, videos, and tutorial slideshows, no one except for a professional contractor should complete certain projects. Some project types require a licensed and certified professional because doing it as a DIY project would negate a warranty or because the state or municipality requires it. This article considers modern DIY projects that require a professional in that specialty.
1. Fighting Crime
Sure, you can purchase law enforcement badges on Amazon and eBay, but leave the vigilantism in a Clint Eastwood movie, where it belongs. TV shows like CSI, Law & Order, and NCIS have made it cool to learn about criminal investigative techniques, especially forensics. Regardless of the online classes you complete, leave the crime-fighting to actual police, sheriffs, and federal investigators.
You can do some things to help reduce crime where you live. Form a neighborhood watch and report anything suspicious or illegal that you observe. Call 911 to report the crime as it happens.
Hold child safety workshops in conjunction with your local police department. These workshops provide professional fingerprinting and photographing of each child. In the event of a kidnapping or natural hazard, the parent and law enforcement have up-to-date photos and fingerprints of each child in the neighborhood. Learn self-defense. Many police departments offer free self-defense classes, so people can learn essential ways to defend themselves if attacked. If you want modern DIY projects, instead of investigating crime yourself, try assisting police by forming a watch group or holding one of these workshops.
2. Dental Work
In the very old days of the 1800s and earlier, people would tie a string to a door knob, then to a bad tooth, and slam the door to pull the cavity-ridden tooth. Obviously, by your reaction to this, this practice no longer proves appropriate. In those days, dentists only served large cities. Today, this has fallen off the modern DIY projects list because even the most rural communities receive dental services from either traveling dentists or rural dentists.
In 2023, Americans go to the dentist about twice per year for cleanings and checkups. Employers provide medical insurance that frequently includes dental and vision care. Dentists fit those who need them with braces or Invisalign, handling pulling teeth, cleaning, and whitening them.
3. Veterinary Aid
Veterinary risk assessment numbers among the things that fell off the list of modern DIY projects. Just one hundred years ago, vets proved much less common than today. People traveling 50 to 100 miles to visit a vet with a sick animal proved common. Many pet owners, ranchers, and farmers learned essential care themselves to reduce travel.
According to the American Veterinarian Medical Association (AVMA), in 2022, 124,069 veterinarians serve the U.S. The proverbial Fidos and Fluffys of the U.S. have many doctors that their owners can turn to for help when they fall ill or get hurt. Instead of trying to diagnose and treat your pets yourself, take them to a local vet.
Lock repair lands firmly on this list of modern DIY projects to skip. Feel free to install a new doorknob on your own or add a bolt lock, but call a professional to repair a broken lock. Whether a key breaks off in the door or the lock’s tumblers go awry, a locksmith has the knowledge and experience to properly repair a broken lock.
Rely on a professional locksmith to re-key locks, cut new keys, and conduct security audits. Locksmiths can help you upgrade your lock types, too. For instance, if you operate an Airbnb, consider switching to smart locks that use programmed pin codes instead of keys.
5. HVAC Repair
HVAC repairs make the list of modern DIY projects to skip. YouTube videos describe how to fix almost anything, but here’s what they don’t tell you. You void the HVAC system warranty if you work on it yourself. It might have a simple problem with it that a pro could repair in minutes and that the warranty covers, but as soon as you open the system to work on it, you void the warranty.
That means when you realize that you can’t fix it and phone an HVAC service professional, you end up paying out-of-pocket for something the warranty covers. Since HVAC repair has become ubiquitous, most towns offer at least one HVAC pro. Call them for repairs and rely on your warranty and home insurance to cover the repair costs.
6. Pool Installation
Build the deck around your new swimming pool yourself if you like. Leave the swimming pool installation to the professionals in pool construction. Why try to teach yourself the rigors of trenching, cement work, concrete laying, forms, and more? Make inflating the kiddie pool the only swimming pool on your list of modern DIY projects.
Professionals in swimming pool construction can design more than a pool. They can integrate it with other hardscapes in the yard, including fountains. A pool installation pro can add water slides or other children’s play equipment.
7. Roof Installation
While patching your drywall inside your home might seem easy, roofing your home falls firmly on the list of modern DIY projects to skip. Roofing materials come with warranties that you void if a non-pro installs them. Hire professional roofers to install your new roof.
Research roofing materials first. Choose the roof you want installed, then use the “find a contractor” option on the manufacturer’s website. Each manufacturer offers training and certification to contractors who want to learn the proper way to install their products. Hiring one of these contractors provides you with added warranty terms.
8. Septic System Cleaning
Most rural residents know that cleaning a septic tank would never belong on a list of modern DIY projects, but if you recently moved to a rural area, this may be a new thing for you. Septic systems take the place of sewer lines and sewage treatment plants in a city. Raw sewage goes directly from a toilet to a septic tank buried beneath the ground. Every six months to a year, you’ll need to hire professional septic services to pump the sewage out of the tank.
These septic cleaning services pump the sewage into large tanker trucks and then haul it to the sewage treatment facility. Homes with composting toilets don’t have a septic tank and, therefore, don’t hire this service. RVs and some mobile homes with RV toilet systems remove their tank and dispose of their contents at designated dump sites.
9. Tree Removal
Tree removal makes the list of modern DIY projects to skip completely. Remove a stump from your yard on your own if you want to feel like Paul Bunyan, but leave the tree removal and large branch cutting to a professional tree service Feel free to trim your bushes and small tree branches close to the ground.
Much of the work required for tree removal also requires special tools and training. This equipment includes ladders, cranes, body harnesses, other safety equipment, chainsaws, and much more. Instead of trying to climb a tree and cut it down yourself, bit by bit, hire a professional to do the work.
10. Electrical Work
Here’s the last entry on the list of modern DIY projects to simply skip. Call a construction company or electrician, depending on whether you want to put in new outlets, re-wire as a part of renovations, or just add an outlet to an existing wall. Sure, YouTube shows you how to install an outlet; but it doesn’t mention that it’s illegal for you to do this work yourself in most jurisdictions.
Each state passes its building code as law. Each municipality, in this case, city or town, creates its own building code that must use at least the same code requirements as the state building code. Unincorporated areas refer to areas that haven’t formally established a city or town. These areas use the state building code.
Every state requires that any electrical work be performed by a licensed electrician. The electrician obtains a permit for the work from the city or town. Once completed, a city code enforcement official reviews the work of the electrician. This process ensures the safety of the building’s residents and their neighbors by negating a potential fire hazard (bad wiring).
A List of Quick, Fun DIY Projects You Can (And Should) Do
On a more positive note, plenty of DIY projects exist for the bored homeowner. If you want to boost the curb appeal of your home or improve its value and comfort, consider one of these easy, quick projects that don’t require a professional contractor. Most of these projects require a day or less to complete, too. Instant gratification can provide an incentive to complete more projects.
of various sizes to match your house paint and trim. Pull together the many pots for plants you probably own or turn some terra cotta pots into perfectly matched planters with some spray paint. Lay down some newspaper on the driveway, place the pots to paint on them, face down, and spray them all to match. Once dry, place plants in them and line the walkway and porch with a bounty of plants.
Change the wall color
of a room. Paint your home’s interior or paint one room. Choose a vibrant color that expresses your personality and creates an enjoyable surrounding for you. If you can’t find a paint color you love, visit the Behr counter in a large Home Depot store to have them custom mix a paint color for you, based on an item you bring them.
Divide a room
by constructing a simple wall. YouTube does offer some terrific tutorials on this topic. Your building materials list includes two-by-fours, nails, drywall, plaster, and wall tape. Once you build your wall, finish its exterior with paint, wallpaper, paneling, trim, wainscoting, or a mural.
to a room. If your laundry room or home office lacks storage space, install shelving on the walls. Hang the shelves at chest height and higher to offer storage space without impeding movement through the room. You preserve floor space this way, too.
Clean your garage.
Renew your acquaintance with many of the items you own by cleaning out the room of every home that becomes a dumping ground for stuff. Throw away what you no longer use that isn’t of sentimental value. Organize it in plastic bins or shelves you install to keep the garage clean.
Commonly Needed Tools
Those who want to develop into serious DIYers need a set of tools at hand. Some individuals invest thousands of dollars into their tools, but this list includes the reasonably priced bare minimums. Consider purchasing items such as hammers, saws, and wrenches. The hammer should come with a nail puller attached. Choose a laser level that can illustrate the corners of the world, along with creating straight lines.
Read the reviews on all power tool purchases to find the right tools for your needs. For example, some manufacturers make power tools that prove easier to use for individuals who develop arthritis or lack hand strength. By reading the reviews, you learn which of these manufacturers succeeded in making a tool for use by everyone.
Though many people purchase chainsaws, they typically don’t need them. The same goes for the ubiquitous ax. Unless you need to chop firewood for a long, cold winter, skip those two expensive purchases.
Most DIYers purchase their power tools after finding themselves interested and excited by their first few home improvement projects. Around the time they find themselves watching as many Bob Vila videos as episodes of “Home Improvement, ” they invest in power tools. Many projects don’t require them.
Dos and Don’s of DIY
Skip the dangerous projects like tree felling and electrical work. Hire a professional contractor instead of trying to do it yourself. Stick with projects like painting a room or building a divider wall, which doesn’t require pro knowledge.