Home Improvement

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Electrical work is something you should never tackle without training.

DIY house projects: Success or disaster?

Mary Van DorenVerified

Senior Editor


16 positive ratings
DIY home projects on your mind?

Be realistic about your home improvement skills. Some projects are incredibly easy, but beware of electrical, roofing and plumbing.

This JustAnswer customer’s DIY house project predicament could have come straight out of an HGTV show:

We tried to do a lot of DIY remodeling in our 1942, 760-square-foot house and messed it up. We took out a weight-bearing wall, and re-routed the heater exhaust.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the customer’s urgent question was …

How do we approach the process of hiring a contractor who will be willing to work with us?

That’s just the tip of the iceberg, as any DIYer knows. The do-it-yourself movement has spawned giant box store companies, including Home Depot and Lowe’s, and dozens of TV shows, including those that depict DIY gone very, very wrong.

In short, a lot of people make a lot of money convincing even the least handy homeowners that they can handle DIY house projects and remodeling.

Still, professionals cost a lot of money, and you may be determined to save some. DIY home renovation on a budget drives a lot of people to become their own best contractor. When deciding whether to do it yourself, keep in mind that you’re expending not only your own energy but also your time – and your sanity.

As Eddie, a Home Improvement Expert on JustAnswer, points out, “Sometimes it isn’t worth the aggravation to a homeowner, even if they think they’re saving a few sheckels.”

So we checked in with Eddie to get homeowners some guidance on when to DIY and when to step slowly away from the circular saw. There are plenty of things you can do to improve your home with minimal skills – and there are some DIY home projects that amateurs should never attempt.

Meet the Expert


Eddie is the owner of Island Pro-Craft, a home improvement contractor and repairs company. He has more than 40 years of experience and has been on JustAnswer since October 2015.

For expert guidance, you can contact Eddie directly on JustAnswer with your questions.

And now, the DIY house project questions we posed to our fearless Expert, concerning the average DIYer:

For the average DIYer, what’s the easiest project to do that will improve a home’s value and comfort?


Exteriors: You usually get five years out of a paint job, and after that, a fresh coat of paint will do wonders. A manicured green lawn and a multi-colored garden of small plants would add to the all-important, first look, curb appeal. Clay pot planters by the front entrance. A sprinkling system can be installed with a nominal tool rental and a medium degree of difficulty.

Interiors: Most people hate to paint, but when you can pick up a few pointers you’ll find it isn’t that bad. Next the gathering place, the very important kitchen if it needs updating. Maybe new countertops and appliances. In the living area, floating shelves and large family framed photos will add a classy, warm look. Last, I like curtain rods with a swag. Oh, and let’s not forget a home theater!

The takeaway: What’s the easiest project to do that will improve a home’s value and comfort? Paint inside and out! Simple projects that anyone can do, such as adding pots of flowers or replacing heavy drapes with a classic swag can have a huge impact, too.

For the average DIYer, which popular home improvement projects are probably best left to professionals?


There are many if you don’t have the experience, or the right equipment in doing them. New interior doors, kitchen and bath remodels, roofing, most plumbing, like rough-ins and setting a tub, most electrical, like panel upgrades and anything requiring a licensed professional.

Again, painting is doable, but here is the rub on that. To paint a room completely would take the average lay person three days to do. That’s patching, priming, two coats on ceiling and walls, closets and trim (windows, doors and moldings) and all the new cuss words he can invent. With all the tricks I’ve learned in my years, I’m in and out in a day.

I was NEVER afraid to tackle anything. One day I was working on the company van, and it was an arduous task. My hands and arms got all cut up, because it was in such a tight area. I had to make a few trips for parts. It took a couple of days.

I said to myself, “What am I doing?” My mechanic, who always got me up and running because of my business, said if I could get the van there at 7 AM, he’d have it done by noon. You can’t beat that.

The takeaway: Which popular home improvement projects are probably best left to professionals? Don’t try to tackle the big jobs that people have to get licenses to perform. Get a pro for major remodels, electrical, roofing, and plumbing. And while painting is doable, consider how much your time is worth versus hiring a pro..

Which DIY projects, without professional remodeling, add the most value to a home?


In my humble opinion, and going out on a limb – then again maybe not so much in today’s world – I would say home security: gun cabinet and/or built-in safe, panic room, and cameras. Also consider low-voltage wiring for all access ports.

The takeaway: Which DIY projects add the most value to a home? Home security is something many people don’t think of as a value-enhancing DIY house project, but it’s a great choice.

What’s the most common mistake people make in DIY renovations, and how can it be avoided?


I think it's not having as much knowledge that can be absorbed on the subject at hand and a little experience in knowing the how and why things work the way they do. That’s why I’m fully committed to JustAnswer. I ‘ve always liked helping my customers, and it’s very rewarding to me when they pick up on what I’m trying to convey and just about fix it themselves.

The takeaway: What’s the most common mistake people make in DIY renovations?  Take the time to get answers and expert advice before tackling any DIY house project you’ve never done before.

What are some new DIY renovation ideas for home value and comfort that most people don’t think of, but should?


Some of these should be done in conjunction with a contractor.

  1. A built in wall unit(s) or theater
  2. A walk in waterfall/jet massage shower
  3. Smart homes are becoming very trendy and convenient
  4. Flooring, because most carpets should be replaced after 10 years
  5. Fragrant house plants and planters
  6. Ambient lighting, for example, wall sconces or cove lighting, especially with the new technology in LEDs
  7. Gas zero clearance fireplace
  8. Combination swimming pools and spas with a waterfall.
  9. Exterior home movie screening and fire pit

The takeaway: What are some new DIY renovation ideas for home value and comfort that most people don’t think of?  So you thought an outdoor theater or waterfall shower would be an extravagance? Here’s your license to add not only comfort and family fun, but value to your home!

And finally … wallpaper: Yes or no? Why or why not?


I’ve been installing wallpaper for over 40 years. Including the old time flocks, wet-look vinyls, Mylars, foils and 54-inch commercial wall-coverings. In the past 20 years I leaned toward talking homeowners out of it, even though it meant money in my pocket. The reason being, because of the cost, you kind of have to commit to it, realistically for about 10 years.

In that span of time you get tired and want change. So then let’s say you want to paint, in most cases you’ll have to soak or steam off the old, scrub off all of the paste and rinse the walls. Spackle (three coats) any parts of the walls that have become damaged, guaranteed to be at least 30% of the area!

Prime and then then coats of paint. If in case the walls were never primed or sized before the wall covering was put up, then it’s more trouble and more damage. I’ve been on jobs where that was the case and I wound up putting up new quarter-inch drywall wall as a “skin,” and then they had brand new walls. Ultimately, you should try to make the ends justify the means.

The takeaway: Wallpaper: Yes or no? Just because wallpaper is making a big comeback in the glossy home décor magazines doesn’t mean you should jump in. Will you love it for at least 10 years? If not, it’s not for you.

Even if you find yourself in the jam facing the JustAnswer customer above, you can always get answers – and advice on finding the right contractor – from the Home Improvement Experts on JustAnswer. Even if you find your house falling down around you at midnight, they’re on the job!

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