Can't decide between fixing up an older home or buying a new model? Start by counting up the costs. While DIY can save money, some jobs require an expert and costs can add up. Here are seven home repairs you absolutely need an expert for.
1. Roofing Replacement
Adding a few shingles or replacing a piece of rotten fascia might be child’s play, but when it comes to extensive roofing repairs, your first step should be to call in the pros.
Improperly installed roofing can easily become damaged by water or heavy winds causing leaks and potential damage to home interiors. Professional roofers can assess the extent of damage, meet building codes, and ensure that your roof will last another 25 years. Conversely, roofs on new homes are included in your homeowner's warranty without added costs or worries.
2. Household Wiring
Sure, you may have practiced wiring in your high school electronics class, but most building codes require homeowners hire a licensed electrical contractor to install or upgrade residential wiring or service boxes. An improperly wired house is a calamity waiting to happen.
Crossed wires, faulty junction boxes, or shoddily installed receptacles and switches can easily cause a fire inside your home’s walls—igniting when you least expect it. Don't risk losing everything to save a few bucks; hire a licensed electrician.
3. Sinking or Uneven Subfloors
Soft floors are a dead giveaway that sills have shifted or plywood subfloors are in disrepair. Don’t sink hours and dollars into doing it yourself. Shoring up a floor that’s soft due to shifting or rotten sills requires skills most homeowners sorely lack.
Call the pros and get an estimate on how much it will take to replace termite-infested or rotten sills with pressure treated lumber and level the floor where needed. It may be necessary to replace the subfloor with new plywood and hardwoods to stay on even footing.
Uneven floors also result from a house settling over the years. A professional can level the house using heavy duty pneumatic jacks while minimizing damage to walls and doors.
4. Plumbing Woes? Call the Pros
Not for the faint at heart, plumbing repairs can be quite nasty. While many homeowners can change a faucet or replace a shower head, some kitchen and bath clogs require skilled hands.
When raw sewage is backing up in the bathtub, the toilet is overflowing, or water won’t flow properly, it’s time to call a licensed plumber. Galvanized pipes found in older homes can also rust or corrode. To bring them up to code, municipalities may require replacing them with PVC–not a job for a novice.
5. Flooring Installation
Before you contemplate replacing that worn-out carpet or damaged hardwood, think again. Unless you’re a professional installer, attempts to change out flooring could go awry.
Improperly installed carpeting can creep and crawl, leaving you to deal with unpleasant lumps and bumps and uneven wear. And installing a hardwood floor correctly is strenuous and time-consuming.
Rely on the pros to properly remove old carpeting, replace padding where needed, and stretch your new carpet for the most durable, long-lasting wear. Hardwood, laminate, or ceramic tile flooring should also be professionally installed for the best results.
6. Chimney Cleaning
One of the dirtiest and dustiest jobs is cleaning the chimney. An old fireplace can become clogged with years of soot and creosote (a toxic mixture of wood resins, coal tars and chemicals), birds’ nests, or branches. Before you contemplate using an old fireplace, call a professional for an inspection and cleaning.
Companies that specialize in cleaning chimneys and fireplaces can also install a cap to keep out birds and debris, install glass doors to increase safety and efficiency, and repair or replace flues. A clean chimney will have the proper updraft, burn logs more efficiently, and keep the air in your home cleaner.
7. Household Hazard Abatement
Older houses can be beautiful but, internally, many may be full of toxic asbestos and lead paint. Older dwellings can also harbour mould and mildew. Consequently, DIY repairs could expose you or your family to hazardous construction waste.
Call a local asbestos, mould, or lead paint abatement company to safely rid the house of potentially dangerous toxins and meet OSHA and EPA standards. HAZMAT technicians use high-volume vacuum systems, pressure washers, and encapsulation equipment to rid older dwellings of toxins hiding in asbestos drywall, flooring, popcorn ceilings, plaster walls, or pipes. Be safe and not sorry: call a pro.
While there are benefits to buying an older house, repairing years of wear and tear can be costly. Simple home fixes are a breeze for the average handyman, but extensive or hazardous repairs usually require professional help.
If expensive repairs on an older residence seem daunting, as a potential homeowner you might want to consider buying a new or move-in ready house. You'll get all the curb appeal without the high cost and headaches of renovating.
Take a look at our post on What to Expect with New Home Maintenance to see where you'd save.