Milwaukee/NARI Advises – Don’t Try this at Home: 10 Renovations to Leave to the Pros

July 6, 2012

When it comes to home repairs and renovations, it’s important for homeowners to distinguish between projects they can do alone and tasks that require assistance. Even individuals who consider themselves handy around the house should leave certain projects to the experts, as they require special tools or knowledge or are too dangerous to try. Members of the Milwaukee/NARI Home Improvement Council, Inc., the area’s leading home improvement and remodeling industry resource for 51 years, explain 10 renovations homeowners should not typically attempt without the assistance of a professional.

1. Plumbing
There are certain projects that do-it-yourselfers can handle, such as replacing a showerhead or faucet, but more advanced jobs require a professional plumber. Even the smallest leak can cause extensive damage, including rotted wood or mold. If there is a leak behind the wall, it can be almost impossible to detect until structural damage has occurred. It’s best to let a plumber take care of complex projects to ensure that all connections are accurate.

2. Wiring
When it comes to extending, replacing, or adding electrical circuits, it’s important to hire a licensed electrician. Electrical work can present a great risk to homeowners, with two potential outcomes if not properly executed: electrical shock and fire. There are also numerous codes that govern electrical work.

3. Asbestos Removal
Asbestos is a toxic mineral fiber that was added to a variety of construction materials to strengthen them and provide insulation. Once asbestos particles become airborne, they can pose a major threat to individuals’ health, so it’s important to hire a specially trained and accredited professional to ensure that all necessary steps are followed to keep it contained.

4. Roofing
Roofing is a difficult job because individuals are exposed to the elements, and there is the risk of falls. Professionals are equipped with years of experience and practice proper safety techniques. Also, often when homeowners attempt to repair their roof, they do more harm than good or just provide a temporary fix. For example, patching a hole could just redirect water elsewhere. Professional roofers have the knowledge to properly install or replace shingles, determine if the roof is weatherproof, and more.

5. Gas Appliance Repairs
Gas appliances include products like a clothes dryer, oven, and hot water heater. Whether a person attempts to repair an appliance or move it for a home improvement project, such as painting, it can lead homeowners down a dangerous path. Gas can find the smallest leak, so while people may have properly cut off the gas supply when moving the appliance, they may not have hooked it back up accurately. This mistake could lead to carbon monoxide poisoning.

6. Window/Door Installation
Window and door installation must be done to a manufacturer’s specifications to avoid water or air from seeping through, as well as to maintain the manufacturer’s warranty. Also, many people don’t realize a header must be placed across a window and a door to transfer the weight from one end to the other. If not used, doors can get stuck and windows can sag.

7. Structural Changes
It’s difficult to determine if a wall is load bearing or non-load bearing until you examine it. If a homeowner wants to open up a room and doesn’t have blueprints, it’s essential to contact a professional.

8. Siding
When working with siding, an individual needs appropriate licensing and the proper tools to ensure that it is installed correctly. The prep work for siding can be tricky because the existing wood and siding must be removed and discarded. Once installation begins, there are many obstacles to work around, including vents, windows, doors, and more. If it is completed improperly, homeowners may have to deal with leaks and other issues due to weather.

9. Tiling
There are numerous things to consider before a person can begin tiling. First, it’s important to determine if the floor or tiles are even and the walls are square. If people don’t look at these details ahead of time, there could be gaps due to an uneven floor or odd room shape. Preparation before installation may include correcting room issues, such as building up a floor that isn’t level, and planning the tile pattern. Once tiling begins, it’s important to focus on the small details. For instance, there are specific grout requirements for different spaces, and a kitchen has different needs than a bathroom shower.

10. Ceiling Fan or Chandelier Installation
Installing a fan or chandelier may seem like an easy task, but it’s important to follow the necessary steps for safe installation. Professionals understand that ceiling fans get heavier when they’re running, so they need to stabilize the fan while allowing it to turn. They also have the training and knowledge to create the required support for chandeliers to make sure they don’t damage the ceiling or fall.

The Milwaukee/NARI Home Improvement Council was chartered in July 1961, as a Chapter of the National Home Improvement Council. In May of 1982, the National Home Improvement Council merged with the National Remodelers Association to form NARI – the National Association of the Remodeling Industry.

The Council’s goals of encouraging ethical conduct, professionalism, and sound business practices in the remodeling industry have led to the remodeling industry’s growth and made NARI a recognized authority in that industry. With over 800 members, the Milwaukee Chapter is the nation’s largest.

For more information or to receive a free copy of an annual membership roster listing all members alphabetically and by category, and the booklet, “Milwaukee/NARI's Remodeling Guide,” call 414-771-4071 or visit the Council’s website at

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