While oftentimes minor home repair projects can be handled by a skilled homeowner, there are other times when realize that you are suddenly in way over your head.

We’ve all been there. You see that seemingly small home improvement project – like switching out a light fixture – and gear up to tackle it yourself. While oftentimes minor projects can be handled by a skilled homeowner, there are other times when you dig into something and realize that you are suddenly in way over your head – like when removing an existing chandelier leads to the discovery of live, ungrounded wires resting against the insulation in your ceiling.

Particularly in older homes, where you might not be certain if all previous homeowners used qualified contractors or in cases where code is likely to have changed dramatically over the years (think electrical and plumbing work), you are likely to encounter problems. In those cases, we always encourage our clients to call us to make certain that home repairs are handled correctly.

Yet even in newer homes, there are certain projects that we think homeowners should be cautious about tackling on their own – either because they are beyond the skill level of a typical do it yourselfer or because they often mask far greater issues that a homeowner might miss. That’s why we encourage folks to use a qualified, professional contractor who is experienced in home repairs. Here are just a few of those items:

Anything that requires a permit.

It’s never a good idea to complete repairs on your own without pulling a permit. There are several reasons for this. First and foremost, you want to make certain that all repairs are made to code so that your family and your investment in your home are both safe. Also, if you ever plan on selling your home, the buyer’s inspection report will reveal whether permits were pulled, and the buyer can make you remove sections of walls, ceilings, or floors to prove that the repairs were done correctly – a process that can cost far more than the original would have.

Roofing repairs.

Your roof is exposed to – and takes the brunt of – the elements every day. As such, it is your home’s first and strongest line of defense. If roofing repairs are done incorrectly, rain can easily seep into any crevices, creating moisture issues that, if left undetected, can rot walls and flooring.

Electrical work.

Poor electrical work is a leading cause of fire. Dealing with older wiring can be a nightmare if connections were not properly made or if aging wires become damaged.

Complex plumbing repairs.

There are some folks who were just born to solder pipes perfectly the first time without having a single leak. Unfortunately, that’s not most of us! Anything more complex than replacing a toilet flush kit might be well worth bringing in a pro. Water always finds the weakest point, and even small leaks can cause an inordinate amount of damage to flooring and cabinetry if they go unnoticed.

Window and door repairs and replacement.

There’s generally a reason behind rotting door and window jambs – and it can be water or insect damage that’s hidden beneath the surface. If you replace the framing without addressing the underlying problem, you’ll likely find yourself making – and paying for – the same repair again in a few years, and the underlying issue may have gotten far worse.

Structural damage.

If you have sagging floors or sticking doors it’s generally a sign of an underlying problem. The DIY solution of shaving a little wood off the bottom of a door so it closes better might be ignoring a larger problem with a structural member in the floor, wall or even a failing foundation.

Lead paint or asbestos.

Homeowners should never attempt to handle these dangerous substances on their own. A trained professional should be brought in to properly remove and dispose of lead paint or asbestos tiles so that you don’t put your family’s health at risk.

For these and other major repairs, we encourage you to contact a qualified professional who can ensure that the job is done correctly.