The Worst Home DIY Advice You Should Never Listen To

It’s no secret that owning a home is expensive. There are basic costs like your mortgage, property taxes, and insurance, and the additional costs of maintenance and upkeep. When it comes to needing work done to your property, you might even consider avoiding a pricey contractor by embracing your inner Chip Gaines and attempting to DIY a few repairs and updates. But ultimately that might not be in your best interest.

With all the information available on the internet, there’s no shortage of advice on how to accomplish a multitude of projects. Some of them may not even seem all that difficult, especially if you have some experience as a DIYer. As hard as it may be to accept it, there really are some projects best left to the pros because the slightest mistake could be disastrous for you and affect how much you sell your property for down the road. This is the worst home DIY advice you should never listen to.

1. You don’t need to get permits

Contractor holding building plans
Contractor holding remodel plans | Helen H. Richardson/ The Denver Post/Getty Images

Some people may see it as a way to cut (or avoid) costs, but not getting the proper permits can cause more trouble than you think. Building permits serve as a way to ensure work is being done properly and safely and being caught without one could mean a hefty fine. While permit regulations vary depending on where your property is located, they’re very often required for any plumbing, electrical, or HVAC work.

Next: There’s more to this task than meets the eye

2. It’s easy to install a dishwasher yourself

A man works on a dishwasher
Serviceman working on a dishwasher | Anya Semenoff/The Denver Post via Getty Images

As far as appliances go, dishwashers are one of the most complicated when it comes to installation and even repairs. There’s a lot to consider from electricity to drainage and everything in between. A mistake could mean flooding your kitchen, potentially damaging your floors and kitchen furniture. Most stores offer installation for a fee that’s considerably less than the cost of an incorrectly installed dishwasher and subsequent clean up and repairs.

Next: You can’t hide this danger

3. Those exposed wires won’t be an issue in a suspended ceiling

a suspended ceiling in a building
A suspended ceiling | nnorozoff/Getty Images

Electrical work can be extremely dangerous for a number of reasons. There’s the obvious risk of getting shocked and also if the work is done improperly, there’s the potential for an electrical fire. While even a novice DIYer might know better than to leave wires exposed where they’re visible or could be touched, they also need to be properly covered even if they’re hidden.

Frank Lesh, a former executive director of the American Society of Home Inspectors, told U.S. News that it’s not uncommon for inspectors to find exposed wires in suspended ceilings. He noted that the danger isn’t necessarily that someone might touch them, but if any pests, such as mice, were to interact with the wires, it could cause large issues.

Next: Risky repairs could cost you more in the long run

4. You can save money by doing your own plumbing repairs

Handyman fixing a sink
| AndreyPopov/Getty Images

If it’s not a job for Draino, then it’s probably not a job for you. Plumbing can be tricky and often requires performing repairs in awkward or cramped spaces if you’re dealing with something beyond a basic faucet. DIY websites might try to convince you that your issue is “simple,” but when potential water damage is on the line, there’s nothing simple about it.

Next: Out with the old before in with the new

5. That new flooring can go right over the old flooring

Handyman installing carpet
Installing carpet over a laminate floor | AndreyPopov/Getty Images

Installing new flooring can be a simple yet effective way to refresh a room and with all of the different flooring options available today, it might not even cost you that much. But be careful of putting new flooring directly over your old flooring. Dave Geradine, who owns Expert Home Repairs in Hollywood, FL, told U.S. News that you run the risk of having to remove your new flooring if the old flooring underneath fails for any reason.

It’s also easier to make sure that your new flooring is level if you remove the old flooring first. The laminate kitchen flooring in my home was installed over old carpeting (of all things) before I purchased it and there are very noticeable dips, bulges, and gaps in the flooring that would likely not be there had the carpeting been removed first.

Next: One of the most serious health hazards in homes today

6. You can remove asbestos from you house yourself

A team works on removing asbestos
Asbestos abatement team | Photofusion/Crispin Hughes/UIG via Getty Images

It is legal in many states for homeowners to remove asbestos without hiring expensive asbestos abatement professionals. Just because it’s legal, doesn’t mean it’s the right choice. There is no safe level of exposure to asbestos and the average person won’t know all the proper precautions to take to minimize exposure as well as avoid spreading particles throughout your home. Don’t risk your health and leave this one to the professionals.

Next: It’s not always a good idea to just make do

7. It’s fine to work with what you have on hand

Work bench
Tools stored above a work bench | stoonn/Getty Images

There are plenty of times in life where making do with what you have is totally fine. But that shouldn’t be your go-to motto when it comes to DIY home repairs and renovations. Having the correct materials and tools makes a world of difference for most projects and can help ensure that your projects are being completed correctly and are closer to modern building standards. Not to mention that you can create a potentially hazardous or dangerous situation by not using the correct materials.

Next: Even a standard replacement is trickier than it may seem

8. Replacing a window is no big deal

window replacement
Man working on replacing a window | Doug Jones/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images

When it comes to windows, there’s more than meets the eye. Even if you have a standard size window, it’s not as simple as popping out the old one and putting the new one in its place. If the new window isn’t installed correctly, it could lead to drafts and possibly leaks.

Next: These are not cure-alls

9. Any tape or glue will work

Wooden door fixed with duct tape
Damaged door repaired with glue and duct tape | eyepark/Getty Images

It’s time to learn that duct tape and superglue are not a cure-alls. You might be surprised at the number of specialty tapes and adhesives on the market and there’s a purpose for each of them. Electrical tape, for example, is a rubber-based tape designed to insulate against electric current. Duct tape has no insulation so it would be a poor substitute and create a potentially hazardous situation. Figuring out the specialty tape or adhesive you need in any given situation will ensure that you are using the most effective product possible and also help prevent other problems in the future.

Next: Proper preparation is necessary for this project

10. You can just paint right over existing wallpaper or cracked paint

Cracked paint from water damage
Cracked paint | RYosha/Getty Images

For some DIYers, painting might be the easiest project to tackle. It doesn’t require as much skill as something like plumbing or electrical, and that makes it much less stressful. But there’s still more to it than simply slapping paint on a wall and proper preparation is necessary for the end result to look as best as it can be.

You should never paint directly over wallpaper or old cracking and peeling paint. You need a smooth service to work with when painting and putting paint over wallpaper can make it bubble up, which means you’ll have to cut out those sections, patch them, and then prime and paint them again. In the case of painting over old paint, as much as you hope it will, new paint won’t properly fill any cracks or adhere sections where old paint is peeling off.

Next: Hidden dangers

11. You don’t need a professional opinion before doing your own work

old asbestos floor tile
Old floor tile | Bridget DeMeis/The Cheat Sheet

You may have had a home inspection before purchasing your property so there’s a chance you already have a complete list of everything wrong or potentially dangerous. If for some reason you skipped an inspection, you should be extra cautious, especially if you have an older home. Things like asbestos can be found in places you might not expect so if you aren’t sure or suspect that there might be asbestos present on your HVAC ductwork, in old flooring tiles, on old plumbing pipes, or in a myriad of other places, it’s in your best interest to call a professional who will be able to tell you for sure. If it’s safe and easy to do so, you can also collect a sample using a home asbestos test kit and send it to a lab for analysis.

Next: Beware where you try to save money

12. Save money by doing the demo work yourself before you contractor starts work

Home renovation
Home mid-reno | Lisa5201/Getty Images

Say you’re undertaking a project that you did decide to pay a professional to complete. Chances are you might look for ways to save on your contractor bill by looking for work you could complete yourself, such a demo. Why pay someone to tear down walls when you could easily do it yourself, right? Wrong.

Although demo appears to be straightforward, if you don’t know what exactly you’re getting into it could spell disaster. You need to know if a wall is load bearing before knocking it down not to mention all the potential plumbing, electrical, and gas lines that could be hidden behind that drywall. If you don’t know what you’re getting into, leave it to the pros.

Next: One wrong move could spell disaster

13. Cutting tree branches is no big deal

Sawing a tree trunk
Cutting a tree trunk | Prepperka/Getty Images

Trees can be a beautiful and useful aspect of your yard, but depending on how they grow, they can also be a nuisance. There’s also the risk that they may become diseased and die, which makes them a safety hazard. Cutting down branches, or entire trees, requires more than just a chainsaw. There’s the obvious risk of falling off a ladder or out of the tree, as well as the risk that what you cut off could fall in the wrong direction and damage your or your neighbor’s property.

Next: A surprising revelation

14. All you need to install trim is a saw and nail gun

Installing trim in a room
A man installing crown molding | photovs/Getty Images

Something you may not have ever realized, because it’s not necessarily discernible to the naked eye, is that no wall is perfectly straight. That means installing molding is not as straightforward as simply making cuts and nailing it to the wall. There can be a lot of painstaking work involved, such as scribing or coping, which is shaping the end of a piece of trim to almost perfectly match up with an adjoining piece. If you want it to look near perfect, call a professional to take care of it.

Next: If it seems to good to be true …

15. Easy projects are usually straightforward

Inspecting blueprints
Looking at blueprints | Kerkez/Getty Images

When it comes to the majority of home renovation projects you should always assume anything that can go wrong will go wrong. According to Architectural Digest, one the biggest mistakes homeowners often make is assuming everything will go along according to plan. While there’s a better chance that may happen in newer homes, that’s not always a guarantee and you can pretty much forget about it in older homes. Save yourself the frustration and always plan, and budget, for the worst. It also doesn’t hurt to research local pros ahead of time in case you need to call one in.