After spells of staying at home 24/7, we’ve all had a lot more time than usual to dwell on what our ideal home looks like. From cosmetic tinkering and tackling maintenance issues, to planning drastic changes to the household, many folks have used their excess time at home to build their skills in order to cut the costs of home improvements. However, there are those jobs that, when done poorly, can make a space look even worse. Here, we’ll go over five projects that homeowners are better off leaving to the professionals.

1.    Framing artworks and prints

We’ve all been there — pressing down on those fidgety metal points at the back of your newly framed print or poster for the third time, only to realise that it’s still wonky, gnawing away at your inner perfectionist. While this frustration goes hand in hand with the kind of bargains you can pick up online, we maintain that it always pays to have a delicate, expert touch when it comes to properly framing and hanging your artworks, posters, and prints.

If your art is particularly valuable, or even if it is a vintage picture that you want to make the centrepiece of your living room, you certainly don’t want to skimp on the framing. This is because properly encasing your print or canvas is a significant step in preserving an artwork. Soho Frames suggest that “​​having your work professionally framed not only helps you find the best way to display it, but also gives it the best possible protection from deterioration”. Framers also often have access to high-quality, durable materials and can produce bespoke designs that fit the remaining decor in your home. If you’re still set on going down the DIY route, it’s worth seeking professional consultation beforehand at the very least.

2.    Plastering

While there are plenty of resources for people who want to have a crack at plastering their walls solo (like how-to guides and YouTube videos), there are many factors that influence a job well done. Experienced plasterers will tell you that you need to use the correct equipment, such as rasps and specific types of trowels. They’ll also tell you that it requires painstaking attention to detail, such as applying the right amount of filler, and ensuring that it is sanded efficiently according to the particular aspects of your wall.

In short, unless you’ve done it a few times already and have become more accustomed to the ins and outs, it’s wise not to experiment with this job on the cheap. Professionals avoid rookie errors like mixing the plaster for too long and letting it dry out, or layering it on too thick which then demands even more sanding. What’s more, there are plenty of tricky spots, like ceilings and around window frames, that a novice may struggle with. If you’re feeling ambitious, that’s up to you, but at the end of the day, the service you’ll pay for is far less time-intensive and risk-prone than going DIY.

3.    Tiling

As The Spruce advises: “laying tiles is easy, but laying tiles and doing it well is difficult”. Since this is a particularly pricey undertaking to get wrong, if you’re looking to cut costs, the recommendation is that, at minimum, you should use professional services for “the most visible areas”.

Messing up a tile installation means inevitably relying on a tile setter to remove them, at extra cost to you. It won’t just be damage to your wallet — the drywall can suffer as a result. Successful tiling also requires properly measuring the space and ensuring that you have the right number of tiles to begin with. In our humble opinion, always go with a pro, as they will be able to determine the necessary quantities exactly, as well as cementing and preparing the subfloor for installation. Without one, the tiles may crack, which will demand a complete overhaul of the tiling, taking you back to square one.

4.    Tree removal

Davey provides a good rule of thumb for this job: “if you would have to use a ladder to reach and remove tree limbs, that tree is too big for you to remove safely.” Yes, that includes attempting to hitch your van to it to pull down that way — not only are trees often much heavier than you’d think, but there is no surefire way to guarantee that it will fall in the right direction. This method poses a risk of serious damage if the tree doesn’t quite land where you want it to.

In short, this is much more complicated than meets the eye. That’s why professional tree removers have to acquire a licence and certification before they are permitted to do their jobs. They will be prepped to handle equipment like chainsaws (which can cause serious injuries if the user is not well acquainted with them), and know exactly where to saw off branches. As Rocky Mountain Tree Service claims, the pros “are trained to determine which way a tree will fall and make sure it falls down in the right direction when it is cut down”, preventing any lasting damage.

5.    Garden landscaping

Especially after lockdown, the double-whammy of creative home improvements and spending quality time in the sun is not lost on gardening hobbyists or better yet, wannabe landscapers. The internet is also aflush with incredible ideas that can feasibly be done on one’s own, such as building a new vegetable patch. However, for more widespread changes to the design of your garden, there are many reasons why it’s best to seek professional services if it’s your first project.

As Real Homes remind us, if you’re keen to add a gravel walkway or redo your garden fencing, “this is all within the scope of an amateur”. However, more ambitious projects with higher maintenance requirements (such as using expensive stone slabs or installing brand new outdoor seating) demand the know-how and the dexterity of professional landscapers. Furthermore, the distinct aspects of your plot will also determine how much you can get done on your own: “if you have a big space where the soil is very compacted, or if you are working with a very sloped garden, then you may need to consider some professional help”.

Claire Preece