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Which Home Improvement Projects Should Never Be DIY?

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A set of tools laid out on a table

Photo: mihalec (Shutterstock)

There’s a YouTube tutorial or how-to article for pretty much any and every do-it-yourself home improvement project you could possibly want to take on. But just because you can DIY something doesn’t mean you should. In some cases, your time, money and safety may be worth more than what you’d pay a professional to do the same job.

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Look, we’re not here to discourage DIY—we are Lifehacker, after all. But sometimes the hack is “call a professional before you get in over your head.”

Bottom line: know your limitations. Here are a few situations in which you may want to reconsider DIY.

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Pros could do it for less

Calculate how much your time is worth per hour (or how much you think it’s worth) and how long the project will take, add the cost of materials and tools, and compare the total to how much a professional would charge for the same job. Of course, this approach breaks down if you’re doing home projects entirely on personal time that doesn’t have the same value as your professional time—or if sticking to a budget is your top priority.

But you should also consider the cost of having a pro come in to fix any mistakes or redo any DIY work you’re not satisfied with.

Pros could do it faster

If time is money, or if you have limited hours to complete a DIY project, it may be worth paying a professional, who can almost certainly do it faster.

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Pros could do it more safely

Some projects aren’t so easily tackled via a YouTube education or without training or hands-on experience. You probably want to avoid DIY when it comes to:

If there’s a chance that you’ll electrocute yourself, crush yourself, fall off a ladder, or burn down your house, consider hiring someone else for the job.

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DIY would void a warranty

Many home appliances, systems and materials come with warranties—and installing or fixing things yourself or using the wrong materials may void those warranties. Read your warranty info carefully before going DIY on the following projects:

  • HVAC repairs
  • Flooring
  • Siding
  • Roofing
  • Exterior painting
  • Appliance repairs

You don’t have the right tools

This goes back to the cost issue: some projects require specialized tools that you may not have on hand for one-time use. If you can’t rent them, DIY may be cost-prohibitive.

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The final result will look DIY

You could tile your bathroom yourself, but will you be satisfied with the final result? Will a future homebuyer be able to tell that it’s DIY? Bricklaying, tiling, installing and painting cabinets and plastering may fall into this category.

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You don’t even like DIY

For some, do-it-yourself is, quite simply, a pain in the ass. If you’re not going to enjoy the process, consider passing off the hassle to a professional.

This article was originally published in October 2012 and updated on October 14, 2020 to refresh dead links, perform a copy edit, add a new header image, and align the content with current Lifehacker style.

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Charge Your Phone Wirelessly With 50% off a Multifunctional LED Lamp

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Best Tech DealsBest Tech DealsThe best tech deals from around the web, updated daily.

White Wireless Charge Lamp | $18 | Amazon | Clip coupon + code ABC88699
Black Wireless Charger Lamp | $20 | Amazon | Promo code ABC88699

When you’re ready to turn in for the night, you don’t want to forget to charge your phone— especially if your mobile device doubles as your alarm clock.

With this wireless charger lamp, you can make this crucial step of your nightly routine even easier by just setting your phone on the wireless charging pad and… well, that’s all there is to it!

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Other functions include multiple lighting modes as well as a sleep timer option for auto shut-off of the light after 30 or 60 minutes.

This lamp can be yours in white for $18 if you clip the coupon on Amazon (it’s below the original $40 price) and add promo code ABC88699 at checkout.

You can snag the black version for $20 using the same code—no coupon though, sorry.

Don’t sleep on this deal! Who knows how long stock or the coupon code will last?

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Keep That Hotdish Hot With 65% Off a Luncia Casserole Carrier, Only $11 With Promo Code

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Best Home DealsBest Home DealsThe best home, kitchen, smart home, and automotive deals from around the web, updated daily.

Luncia Double-Decker Dish Carrier | $11 | Amazon | Promo code SDDU9S7F

It has been a long time since the days we could safely have a potluck or other gatherings, but we have a fantastic deal perfect for once those times return. These double-decker Luncia dish carriers can be had for 65% off when you add promo code SDDU9S7F at checkout and clip the coupon on the site (it’s just below the price). These holders fit 9″x 13″ sized baking dishes.

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That means you can insulate and keep two dishes of food warm for only $11 instead of $30. What’s more, your Luncia carrier will arrive by Christmas if you order today as a Prime member.

Just add promo code SDDU9S7F and clip the 5% off coupon to bring the price down to $11 for the blue or the grey option.

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Grab this offer while it’s still around!


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Conquer Your Pup’s Dander and Fur With $700 Off a Cobalt or Charcoal Bobsweep PetHair Plus Robot Vacuum

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Best Home DealsBest Home DealsThe best home, kitchen, smart home, and automotive deals from around the web, updated daily.

Bobsweep PetHair Plus Robot Vacuum & Mop (Cobalt) | $200 | Best Buy

Bobsweep PetHair Plus Robot Vacuum & Mop (Charcoal) | $200 | Best Buy

Allergies can be bad enough as the seasons change. Don’t let pet hair and dander add to that by vacuuming it up early and often. That chore is easier said than done— unless you have a robot vacuum to do the work for you. This lovely bright cobalt Bobsweep PetHair Plus robot vacuum and mop, only $200 today at Best Buy seems like an ideal option. That’s a whopping $700 off, by the way.

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You can get the same deal for the charcoal version of the robot vac, too. This model is not only specially made for picking up pet hair, it self docks and charges when it’s finished with the work.

It also comes with a mop attachment, so it can take care of those kitchen floors for you as well. Grab it while it’s still available for this fantastic price!

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