If you’ve spent the last few years binge watching your favourite home renovation shows and looking for #DIYInspo projects all over social media, you’ve probably considered making a few tweaks around your home. 

However, when it comes to home renos, knowing when to hire a professional is essential.

recent survey conducted by Leger examined how Canadians changed their homes during the COVID-19 pandemic. The survey found of the 17% of people who had improved their homes, only one third hired professional help—the rest opting to tackle the jobs themselves.

While it may be tempting to take on home renovation and home improvement projects that don’t appear to present any risks on the surface, there are several instances when the expertise of a professional should be employed to ensure mistakes are avoided

“It’s always better to use a professional to help you steer clear of avoidable big-ticket mistakes down the road,” says Jessica Kee, REALTOR® and sales representative with Right At Home Realty in Toronto, Ontario. “Perhaps something that’s not so obvious is how it could affect a future sale. In markets where buyers can bargain, they’ll certainly notice cut corners and try to bargain the price even more.”

From electrical work and plumbing changes, to structural changes and work requiring specialized equipment, we’re going to delve into why it’s best to leave these types of projects to the professionals.

Electrical repair

Electrical work

The rise of online resources can often give you the confidence to try tasks that would otherwise be left to the professionals. However, just because you’ve seen how to do something doesn’t necessarily mean you should attempt to—and this is particularly relevant when it comes to electrical work.

It goes without saying electricity is dangerous. Regardless of whether the job is major or minor, unless you’re a trained professional, attempting to do electrical work yourself runs a much higher risk of injury, or even death, as well as significant damage to your home. While it may seem thrifty to do the work yourself, the best course of action is to reach out to a certified professional who has the skills and adheres to the latest electrical standards. This will also give you peace of mind when it comes time to sell your home, as you’ll know the work is up to par and will pass a home inspection.

A woman sitting on the floor next to the kitchen sink calling a professional plumber

Plumbing work

Major plumbing work should be done by a licensed professional who has the knowledge and experience to assess the full extent of the issues and react quickly to resolve anything unexpected in an effective and efficient manner. 

“For many homeowners, taking the DIY route is all about those quick and easy ways to save money,” says Loloa Alkasawat, architect at Retouche Inc. “Skip a permit here, skip the architect or contractor there, but the simple truth is there are costs to cutting corners and it’s going to cost you much more in the long run.” 

Hiring a reliable, licensed plumber will give a more holistic view of potential plumbing issues an untrained eye would likely overlook, not to mention the access to tools, parts, and plumbing materials the average DIYer won’t have at hand.

A man inspects insulation for a home renovationPhoto by Greg Rosenke on Unsplash

Structural changes

While it might be incredibly satisfying to tear down walls and create an open-concept floor plan, you just don’t know what could be lurking behind the walls or what those walls could be supporting so, when in doubt, hire a contractor. If there’s a reno that’ll impact the structure of your home, the only option should be to hire a professional—structural changes require a permit, and for good reason. 

Though it may sound dramatic to suggest a catastrophe could take place if structural modifications aren’t carried out by a trained professional, the truth is it’s a very realistic outcome. As highlighted by Alkasawat, “when you cut out the experts, you cut out the expert work.”

A professional uses a power drill on a drywall

Anything that requires specialized equipment 

It’s not only a case of considering whether you have the required expertise, it’s whether you have the tools to effectively complete the home improvement job at hand. Many jobs require specific gear and may need specialized equipment to ensure a properly completed project.

Certain projects will also contain hazardous waste, which needs to be disposed of safely. This includes: 

  • high-intensity light bulbs (HID bulbs), which can contain mercury;
  • certain thermostats;
  • types of caulking which contain polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBS);
  • older windows which contain lead; and
  • many other materials or components required for certain renovations. 

The bottom line is, while many products are designed with the modern-day DIYer in mind and online tutorials make everything seem doable, there are no-go zones that should be left to the pros. When in doubt, get in touch with your REALTOR® to ask for a list of professionals they trust to help get the job done.


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