Guess what? Not everyone can do and/or fix everything about a house despite what we see on Reality Home Fixing and Flipping TV shows.
Here are 13 home fixes NOT to do regardless of how talented and skilled we as investors, clients and agents may be. Some of these fixes are illegal to do without required certifications.
1. Converting Ovens/Cooktops from Electric to Gas – Only licensed contractor are permitted to install natural gas equipment, according to Consolidated Edison. Because those licensed contractors may be required to cap gas lines, convert 2-pole circuit breakers to 1-single pole break, tap existing gas lines and run new gas lines, they are required to get work permits and clearances before they even begin these conversions.
2. Replacing water heaters – Due to the risk of fire, leaks, explosion and exposure to gas fumes, replacing water heaters requires permits and exact procedures for heater connectors and control values. Ventilation, temperature control and pressure control are also involved here.
3. Wall demolition – Load-bearing walls are critical to the structural integrity of the house. Knowing which walls are load bearing and which are not is critical here. This work requires a permit.
4. Asbestos removal – The EPA requires certified professionals to do this work. Period.
5. Lead removal – The EPA and Congress are extremely strict about who can be involved with the removal, handling and discarding of lead. Common in older homes, like asbestos, lead is too easily found in water, soil, the air and paint. Just remind yourself of Flint, MI’s water supply.
6. Cutting down large trees. – Most localities require permits for tree cutting and/or removal. Aside from the tools necessary for the work being dangerous in and of themselves, a tree, branch or limb falling on a person, vehicle, structure and/or electrical pole is too common.
7. Removing Water or fuel from a storage tank – Local, state and federal regulators do not allow DIYers to do this.
8. Roof repair – DIT roof repair very likely voids any roof warranties the owner may have.
9. Installing a skylight – Some localities require permits for skylight installations. This work usually involves gouging a precision hole into the roof and then resealing that opening with expert waterproofing.
10. Removing nuisance animals – Know that different jurisdictions have different rules. Animals could be endangered, diseased (rabies) or, if removed, could disrupt surrounding habitat. Also, trapping, shooting and/or poisoning could be forbidden.
11. Pumping septic systems. This task is regulated up to the federal level because of potential impact on water resources, environment and public health. There are also specific regulations about how contents of a septic system are to be handled, transported and disposed of.
12. Building a staircase. International building codes provide standards for building staircases. Local building codes may require legal approvals and permits.
13. Installing a furnace. This task is highly regulated. Permits are required before and inspectors are required after the job is done due to risks of fire, explosion, exposure to poisonous gas during both the removal and installation of furnaces.