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Times you're glad you didn't DIY

edited May 2013 in Saving Money
We had an expensive run in with an electrician this weekend. While I feel we overpaid for the work we had done, I am SO glad we didn't handle it ourselves. I have replaced light fixtures before but we just didn't get to it so we finally decided to hire someone.

We had a ceiling fan in our kitchen that was much too large for the space (you couldn't open the cabinets when it was running, and my husband was always hitting his head on it. We had it replaced with a flush mount light that is much less obtrusive. We also wanted the light switch box replaced because it was loose.

The electrician took down the light and we discovered that there wasn't an electrical box, just wires hanging down from the ceiling. The fan was being held up by screws into the drywall. And finally, behind the light switch box was newspaper stuffed in an attempt to stop it from wiggling. You know, just a little tinder for a house fire.

I am so spooked by this that I can't look at any electrical fixture in my house without wondering...


  • Any questionable electrical stuff we always hire someone for. Also anything that involves scaffolding, so for us having our chimney repointed and having the whole house painted. Both of those were pricey but I am glad we didn't try to do them ourselves.

    Sometimes I wish we would have hired someone to rebuild our porch. Just because we are going on 2 years I think at this point, but at the same time it is something we can physically do and we can use the money to pay for other things.
  • Anything that involves a risk of death (i.e. messing with anything electrical other than outlets, scaffolding, etc.) hire a pro! I figure my life is worth it! ha :-)
  • how scary! i live by myself, so when i decided a rotten exterior door needed to be replaced, a friend and i thought we could tackle the project. thank goodness we didn't get farther than removing the moulding. what i thought would cost the amount of a door, some shims, and a case of beer as payment ended up running over $3K because of a rotten exterior wall that needed to be rebuilt and about 5 feet of rotten siding. ah the joys of home ownership :( i am willing to try any small project, but i am glad that there are experts available if needed.
  • This last week! I need to have my main sewer line replaced. I of course wasn't going to do the sewer work (and legally couldn't), but I did toss around the idea of excavating myself and then just hiring for the sewer line replacement. So glad I didn't. For the minimal amount of extra money it cost, they dealt with digging next to my hundred year old tree and my water line that came in from the city. Plus digging up a billion yards of dirt, 8 feet deep.
  • plumbing. sweet lord plumbing. I know this is a task plenty of DIY gods tackle, but I will never. I had one bad run-in with a plumbing problem years ago and never again! I'm fortunate enough now to have a landlord that will foot the bill for plumbing work, but I will definitely spring for pros when I finally have my own place.

  • HouseUpdatedHouseUpdated Seattle, WA
    I am glad to hire it out when the project is time sensitive and I can't get done fast enough! When we had our front door replaced this winter/spring, we hired the labor and it took the professionals a 10 hour+ day to get the old door out and new one in and buttoned up - I can't imagine how long it would have taken me and how long I would have been without an operating door!
  • I agree about plumbing! I'll swap out a faucet or fixture like a shower head or toilet, but actually running plumbing I leave to the pros :)
  • Two projects I'm glad we hired out were roofing and replacement windows. Our roof is high and very steep, so I didn't feel my limited roofing experience would bode well in those circumstances. As for the windows, we had old iron windows that were embedded in the masonry surrounding the window opening. The workers pulled out and hauled away the old windows, and had all the replacement windows installed in one day. They came back to button everything up the next day, making me happy to have such a drastic change when I pulled in the driveway.
  • On Easter one year, my father and husband took it upon themselves to knock a giant hole into our brick enclosed entertainment center to fit a larger t.v. It was an awful gaping hole. Shockingly, no alcohol was involved. And they promised they would fix it.

    A year passed.

    They didn't fix it.

    I cried. And hired a contractor. Best money I ever spent. Probably saved my marriage!

    865 x 575 - 124K
  • edited May 2013
    I used a professional for a major drywall project and then another to install all new windows in my house. Sometimes it's best to call a pro, otherwise I do mostly all myself (with the occasional help from my dad)! :\">
  • My new front door...we considered doing it, but were time poor at the time, so we hired in a took him all day to do the frame and the door, as apparently my house doesn't have a single right angle or straight square wall or it was a right bugger to get in...looks awesome though!
  • @EveyBM hopefully you paid him by the job and not by the hour!!
  • @swagner10 hahahaha yes, it was a fixed he is our go-to guy for all things windows and doors so if it wasn't he would have cut us some slack as we are repeat customers. He is also making us some door signs and a coat rack which he is hand carving from our old door, isn't that so sweet.
  • It's tough because my dad is truly the jack of all trades and has done jobs from rekeying a lock to installing new toilets for me. BUT his time is the hardest thing to coordinate and he's often caught up for months at a time.

    Recently I hired someone to replace a retaining wall in my backyard (super short 2" tall max) and he's also digging out rocks, building brick patios and will next build my garden beds. It's a good thing to DIY if you have the time but it's back breaking work and I'd much rather be inside with my sander or a paint brush than outside with the bugs.
  • Rebuilding my chimney and replacing broken slates on my slate roof. I live in a three-story Queen Anne and nothing on this earth short of a zombie attack could have induced me out onto the roof. The chimney was a code violation, so I had to get it rebuilt before I qualified for homeowner's insurance--that was a no-brainer. I hired a guy who only does slate roof replacements on antique homes when my roof started leaking after Hurricane Irene, and it cost a shocking amount of money, but it's totally worth it to have the roof last another 120 years...
  • Our chimney for sure!! I knew it had problems and needed some work, but I had NO idea how bad it really was!!

    It was seriously ready to fall on someone's head!!

    I had the contractor take some photos while he was up on the roof, and I nearly kissed him when the job was done!!

    I now have a GORGEOUS red brick chimney, with a proper cap and flashing. It was well worth the $2000 we paid to avoid some possible/probable serious damage to a head or vehicle down below.

    4288 x 3216 - 3M
    4288 x 3216 - 3M
  • There's not much we don't diy, we just laid hardwood flooring though and we wish we would have hired that out...what a complete headache. My husband is a structural engineer and the stories I've heard from him, my goodness! Some people think they can do anything. Some of the houses that we looked at buying people had cut straight through the main structural support for the entire house, and another one cut through the support for the second floor. Death traps really. Now it's one thing for a private residence but some of the businesses that he has to survey, you wonder if they paid for the "work" that was done. It's good to know when you should say "no".
  • I come from a family of electricians. My father is a master electrician of over 43 years. If I've learned anything in my life it's don't mess with electricity. My husband and I bought our home and the inspection did not reveal the depths of the homeowner DIY electrical work that was done in conjunction with the knob and tube wiring. Whenever my dad comes up from NY to fix something he gets redder and redder as he looks deeper. The former homeowner actually wired something that could not be shut off by flipping the breaker. If my dad had been giving me directions over the phone to fix what should have been a small fix, I would have been electrocuted. Luckily something in my description and iphone photos gave him pause and he drove 2 hours to fix it. I really dodged that bullet.

    Don't mess with the electrical. Changing out a light fixture is one thing if you're just matching wire for wire but any wiring needs to be done by a pro.
  • We had our air conditioning system replaced to the tune of $2250. We didn't try to do that ourselves (not that many would have I'd guess, unless they're actually a contractor themselves). And next week we're having a ceiling light moved and having a plug/ceiling fixture rewired so the light switch turns on the light and not the outlet. Both will involve running wire and will cost around $400. In talking to friends, both prices seemed fair.

    YHL has been really helpful in determining what we should and should not try to tackle ourselves. We replaced our bathroom vanity ourselves, but electrical? No thanks! Risk to life and limb is not for this DIYer.
  • Yes! Electric and Plumbing. But you should know that replacing or adding in the support for a celing fan is not a big scary undertaking. Its still something you can DIY. Get your research on though!
  • Jessica_CapeofDreamsJessica_CapeofDreams Westchester, NY
    We had our windows replaced. The windows had to be custom made because ours were not the standard size. What took the professionals a couple of hours in two days would have been months of miserable work for us. We are sooooo glad that we did not attempt to do this.
  • Sometimes it is the little things that make sense to hire a pro. I got a good price on a carpet sample for my daughter's room. We decided to install it ourselves- we bought a knee kicker, and a staple gun, and the padding. Pulled up the old carpet- always a fun task. My husband about broke his knees with the knee kicker, and limped around a long time. Next time we waited for someone to install it for us- it happened to be 50 dollars and they supplied all the tools and accessories. And took their "moaning" elsewhere!
  • jahornbeekjahornbeek Oklahoma City, OK
    We hired professionals to paint our kitchen cabinets and I couldn't be happier with our decision! The cabinets are a combination of existing bases with new doors, and the pros made the transition seamless. Since we had DIY-ed practically everything else in the space - this was a nice treat!
  • I am ALWAYS happy seeing a professional do whatever I whimped out of trying. Haha! They'll get started and I'll see just how hard it is and think, whew! :)
  • aereed3aereed3 High Point NC
    I am about to have a company come in and work on my upstairs bathroom shower. I have made "minor and few unsuccessful" attempts at repair...and I am soooooo glad I am not taking on the replacement of the tub/shower....I am so excited I am changing it to a walk-in shower....I can't wait!!!!!!
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