Today we are pleased to share a special guest post from “Fix It Dads” blogger Danny Knight, who blogs on home improvement and hacks, woodworking and outdoor projects, and more on his corner of the blogosphere at fixitdads.com.

As a homeowner, you’re longing to do a zillion things to improve your house. You have plenty of data, drive, and even a few diagrams to help you turn dreams into reality. The problem comes into the picture when you start doing the math. How do you overcome those troubling financial hurdles?

One way is to do the work yourself. But going the DIY route is, all too often, a high risk endeavor. Yes, you might save thousands of dollars and end up with beautiful results. On the other hand, you might inflict major damage on your home and end up paying a contractor big bucks to fix your mistakes. So how do you know when to go it alone vs. hanging up your hammer? Here are some tips to help you make the right decision:

     Start by crossing off any projects on the “deadly danger” list. These include jobs involving high-voltage electricity, natural gas lines, foundation repair, structural changes, and major plumbing modifications. Are there a few DIY folks with the wherewithal to tackle these jobs? Yes. But, in most cases, they grew up working alongside their contractor parents and have calluses older than most people’s kids. If that’s not you, then call a pro.

     Do the math. You’ll find DIY apps online that will estimate the cost of the materials and supplies you’ll need. You can then compare the results to what contractors in your area charge for the job. If the DIY price comes up higher, then why expend all that effort?


     Prove your worth with small jobs before taking on bigger ones. Painting, installing laminate flooring, and replacing a sink are within the reach of most DIYers, according to home improvement website Zillow. Try a few of these tasks before moving on to the major league.

     Avoid projects in which small mistakes can damage expensive materials. This includes most types of kitchen counter materials, according to HuffPost. Granite, marble, and exotic hardwoods require the experienced touch of an artisan to achieve the right results.

     Take a good, long, honest look in the mirror first. We all like to think we can, and will, do anything to which we set our minds. In reality, though, each of us has our share of limitations as well as talents. Frank Sinatra succeeded because he focused on singing. His career might have taken a different turn had he tried out for major league baseball. Albert Einstein was incomparable when it came to science. We can thank our lucky stars that he focused on physics and not fashion design. There’s no need to beat yourself up if pouring concrete or welding pipe isn’t your forte.

Safety Comes First. Period.

No amount of savings, and no level of home improvement, is worth sacrificing your life  – or a leg, arm, or finger for that matter. So follow these essential safeguards when doing any DIY project:

     Kill the power to any electrical circuit or device you plan to modify or repair. Even a small amount of amperage can turn out your lights forever, according to experts at Ohio State University.

     Always use ladders with a strength rating sufficient for supporting your body weight. Standing on a stack of books will only lead to your downfall. Also experts recommend, “use the 4-to-1 rule: For every four feet in ladder height, the bottom of the ladder should be one foot away from any object or wall it’s leaning up against.


     Keep the work area clean as you go. Misplaced tools and materials can turn into trip hazards in a split second.

Few investments make more sense than home improvement. Assess the projects you want to complete and determine whether you truly have experience and hire a professional when you need to. Enjoy the ride, no matter which route you take. You’ll look back on the journey as a job well done.

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