Before You DIY

Make sure you do plenty of research before taking on a do-it-yourself home improvement project.

With dozens of home improvement shows on TV and online instructional videos that show everything from how to fix a squeaky door to how to replace flooring, it’s no surprise that DIY has become a mantra for many homeowners throughout the Bay Area and beyond. But unless you’re fairly knowledgeable about this type of work, taking on a home repair or construction project yourself can set you up for expensive mistakes and unintended consequences.

“Some people attempt home repairs or improvements even though they don’t have the skills and abilities of a true craftsman,” says Moorice Tarik-El, owner of We Love Small Jobs Handyman Services-Remodelers & Builders in Oakland. “There are many fine points to construction work that can only be learned through experience. That’s usually what’s missing in DIY construction projects—the work just isn’t the same quality as you’d get from a professional.”

Mr. Tarik-El says the real danger comes when individuals with some DIY experience market themselves as professional contractors. “Inexperienced people aren’t able to offer the same quality and service as a licensed contractor or tradesman. It’s important to hire licensed contractors who have years of professional experience. Anyone can build a beautiful website or give you a few references, but you need to look at a company as a whole and make a decision based on its entire reputation.” To determine if you should tackle a job yourself or leave it to a professional, consider the following information:

Do it yourself Decorative projects such as indoor painting, moulding and replacing trim Changing drawer pulls and hardware Replacing existing light fixtures and ceiling fans Small tiling projects

Leave it to a contractor Anything to do with gas lines or electricity Window replacements Insulation and weatherproofing Removing trees Roof installations or repairs Major home renovations such as additions and gutted remodels

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