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To DIY or not: Projects you can do yourself and those you shouldn’t

(Public Domain Photo)

Maybe you’re planning to paint the back bedroom or retile the bathroom or install new lighting in the kitchen. But if you’ve never done DIY projects before, how can you tell if you’re trying too hard or going too far?

On the other hand, that DIY effort could save lots of money. After all, there’s nothing wrong with learning something new while getting started on fixing up your home.

Here are some examples of the projects that you can do yourself as well as some that might require hiring special help:

Running new gas lines

This might be done to provide fuel for a barbecue or a fireplace, inside or outside, or for a new location inside the house for your range and oven. With any project like this, you need the help of a plumber who’s certified to work with natural gas.

Fixing plumbing

Simple repair jobs — such as replacing a cartridge in the kitchen faucet, cleaning out the trap in the pipe under the sink or replacing some apparatus inside a toilet tank — are jobs you can take yourself. You might want some advice about the work, but you can probably find that online or from a sales person at the hardware store.

Bigger jobs that might involve serious leaks in your plumbing or replacing a failing water heater  or water softener are probably jobs you can’t do yourself.

Making electrical repairs

Some homeowners worry about doing electrical jobs, and they should. If you make a mistake with electrical wires, even if nothing goes wrong at first, eventually something could catch fire.

Still, plenty of homeowners are confident about their knowledge of electricity and wiring and successfully change outlet boxes and install new lighting fixtures or dimmer switches.

“They can do that if they have a little know-how and common sense,” said Michael Bensel of the Mighty Electricians in Phoenix. “But sometimes they go down to the hardware store and ask someone what to do and he tells them the wrong thing.”

One electrical job most handy homeowners can do is replace a broken ceiling fan, provided you’re replacing an old fan with a new one that’s the same as the old.

It’s a lot more difficult, however, replacing a ceiling light with a ceiling fan that also has a light.

Repairing your roofing

Most homeowners don’t want to climb too high on ladders, so fixing a leak in the roof is probably a job better left to roofing experts. Though you might be interested in finding out how to get up to a flat roof on a one-story house to clean off storm debris when needed.

Knocking down walls

You see this kind of fun happening all the time on home improvement shows and it looks easy, right? But if that thing you’re knocking down is a load-bearing wall, trouble could lie ahead.

You also want to be cautious about destroying any wall with electrical outlets or with plumbing pipes inside. Probably your best bet is to leave this job to the experts.

Applying for building codes and permits?

Believe it or not, you need a building permit to throw up walls around your covered patio or to turn a carport into a garage.

But applying for a building permit is also be a good way to learn something about doing a project yourself. City officials can give you good advice on how your plans can be made better.

Painting a small room

This is the kind of job that you probably can handle without too much trouble. You’ll learn a lot in the process and can save some money as well.

Be sure not to skimp on the prep work, such as cleaning the walls and patching holes. Be generous in your use of masking tape and primer.

Advance preparation is one of the most important paths toward a successful paint job.

Replacing flooring

If you’re thinking about laying new tile in the bathroom, try doing the tiling in a very small area first – such as a closet – so you can find out how to do it with very little risk.

Lastly, before you begin any job, check out what tools you will need, and buy any items that you don’t have already.

Let this always be your motto: Safety first.

For more homeowner advice, DIY tips and videos, and information about all the projects around your house, home, castle or cabin, visit Arizona’s largest collection of homeowner DIY advice and information at

And if you are in need of a quality contractor you know you can trust, visit our list of Arizona’s very best contractors or service providers for your home improvement projects at – Arizona’s most-trusted referral network.

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