7 DIY projects real estate agents want you to stop doing yourself – they could damage your property value

Projects never to DIY – attempting these can break building codes, result in safety issues, structural damage, costly repairs and replacements, and undermine your home's aesthetic value

Basement, house exterior with paving stones, white bathroom
(Image credit: R. Brad Knipstein / STEPHEN KENT JOHNSON/OTTO / Future/James Merrell)

Undertaking renovations and repairs without professional help may seem a great way to save money and eliminate the hassle of calling in professional help, however, this can be a big mistake. 

Potential buyers are quick to spot shoddy workmanship and may perceive it as a red flag, affecting their willingness to invest. In addition to this, attempting household projects you shouldn't DIY can inadvertently lower a home's market value, result in non-compliance with local building codes, and pose safety risks.

We talked to real estate agents about the DIY projects that have left homeowners regretting their decision and losing money, so you can avoid making the same errors. 

The DIY projects real estate agents want you to stop doing yourself

'While a DIY project that has been well done could improve your home's marketability, a poorly executed DIY project could also scare off interested buyers or force them to negotiate,' warns Martin Boonzaayer, the CEO of Trusted Home Buyer. 

'Knowing how to do some DIY projects successfully doesn't mean that all projects require DIY skills.' Some DIY jobs would make an excellent weekend project, but in terms of increasing your asking price tag for your house, it might not be a good idea to do certain jobs on your own, including those below.

1. Roof jobs

Exterior of a white house with terracotta roof

(Image credit: Molly Rose)

'Replacing or re-shingling a roof seems easy enough from the ground. But once you are up there, issues like improper underlayment, ventilation mistakes, and poor flashing installation can quickly turn into disastrous leaks and rot that will have inspectors and buyers running for the hills,' warns Richard Mews, real estate agent and CEO of Sell With Richard. 'Roofing is best handled by professionals.'

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2. Complex tiling jobs

bathroom with freestanding tub and patterned tiles with large window

(Image credit: R. Brad Knipstein)

While it is possible to tile a wall yourself, unless you are very confident in your ability to achieve professional-style results, attempting a DIY approach could be a costly error.

'Tiling requires a high degree of precision,' says Mike Wall, a real estate investor at EZ Sell Homebuyers. 'Poorly executed tiling in bathrooms or kitchens can lead to water damage and visually detract from the space.' 

And that's not all. Improper surface preparation and adhesive application means tiles won't adhere well, resulting in loose tiles. A poorly planned tile layout can lead to awkward cuts, misaligned patterns, and uneven grout lines. Other potential mishaps include poor grouting and a lack of expansion joints. 

Tiles can be a costly investment, but they can also increase the value of your property, so rather than adopting a DIY approach at the most essential stage, the installation of tiles, it's best to let professionals execute your tile ideas.

3. Basement finishing


(Image credit: Future / James Merrell)

'Turning that unfinished basement into usable living space seems straightforward, however, between properly waterproofing, installing egress windows, and running new electrical and HVAC – there are a million ways an amateur basement renovation can go off the rails,' warns Richard Mews. 'This can lead to moisture issues, code violations, and value-killing fixes down the road.'

For example, Jonathan Faccone, founder of Halo Homebuyers says: 'I think DIY basement waterproofing projects may provide temporary solutions but can fail to address underlying moisture issues and structural vulnerabilities. Inadequate waterproofing measures can result in basement flooding, mold growth, and foundation damage, compromising the habitability and value of your home.'

Due to the locations, positioned below ground, basements often require more extensive and specific measures than other spaces in the home, so to ensure they are properly waterproofed, ventilated, and insulted, consult a professional to prevent damage to your basement.

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4. Exterior modifications and landscaping

exterior of house in east hamptons


Exterior modifications such as landscaping can significantly enhance curb appeal, yet poorly thought-out designs can deter potential buyers.

Michael Kootchick, real estate developer and leader at OneStop ADU says: 'Exterior modifications such as DIY decking or landscaping undertaken without proper foundation and drainage considerations can lead to significant issues. Poorly executed outdoor projects can lead to problems like water damage to the property’s foundation or suboptimal curb appeal, both of which play crucial roles in the valuation of a property. 

'DIY driveway paving projects may result in uneven surfaces, inadequate drainage, and premature deterioration, detracting from your home's curb appeal and overall aesthetic,' adds Alex Locklear, realtor and the founder of NC Cash Homebuyers

'It's important to hire a professional contractor who has the knowledge and resources to properly prepare the area, use high-quality materials, and ensure proper installation for a long-lasting and visually appealing driveway design.' 

Ensuring that such projects meet professional standards not only boosts aesthetic appeal but also secures the functional integrity of the property, safeguarding your investment.

5. DIY bathroom remodelling

Wet room ideas

(Image credit: Future / Graham Atkins-Hughes)

Like with basements, DIY bathroom remodels are not a great idea unless you have professional grade knowledge, skills, and tools, since they are more complex than putting together flatpack furniture – they require complex installations.

The improper installation of water lines resulted in a severe leakage that compromised the integrity of the bathroom's structure. Going down this route may leave you having to not only redo the plumbing work but also address water damage and mold issues. These remediation expenses may double your initial remodel budget expectations, rather than cutting costs, plus it will make your home more unattractive to homebuyers.

6. Electrical work

sticking to budget, open plan kitchen with dining area, white countertops, statement pendant lights, open shelving, black cabinetry

(Image credit: Living with Lolo / Life Created)

'Dealing with a few light fixtures or outlet swaps is manageable for keen DIYers. But any major electrical work like upgrading panels, running new wiring through walls, or anything that could create fire risks is best left to licensed electricians who can ensure your home is safely up to code,' says Richard Mews.

Playing with wiring is a bad idea. It's bad for you, and bad for your pocketbook. Faulty electrical work is a major turnoff to buyers and could result in substantial repairs before you close. Leave wiring to the pros.

7. Exterior insulation

House exterior

(Image credit: Paul Massey)

When it comes to re-insulating, installing new house wrap moisture barriers, or re-siding your home's exterior, cutting corners leads to moisture intrusion nightmares. From rot and mold to complete system failures, improper installation negates any resale value you hoped to gain with these cosmetic upgrades.

'Inexperienced DIYers often overlook the importance of proper permitting and adherence to building codes,' says Brett Johnson, real estate agent and owner of New Era Home Buyers. Without the proper permits, you risk facing fines, having to redo the work to meet code standards, and potentially even lowering your home's value if the work is subpar or not up to code.

Lola Houlton
News writer

Lola Houlton is a news writer for Homes & Gardens. She has been writing content for Future PLC for the past six years, in particular Homes & Gardens, Real Homes and GardeningEtc. She writes on a broad range of subjects, including practical household advice, recipe articles, and product reviews, working closely with experts in their fields to cover everything from heating to home organization through to house plants. Lola is a graduate, who completed her degree in Psychology at the University of Sussex. She has also spent some time working at the BBC.