By Jim Donovan

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Have you considered taking on a home improvement project yourself in hopes of saving money?

More and more people are doing it. But in this week’s Angie’s list, Jim Donovan tells you why that’s not always a good idea.

In an effort to save money, many people are skipping the experts and opting to do their own home improvement projects. But in some cases, that can be a costly mistake.

“What they find out is they get in over their head and end up having to hire a pro to come in and fix a botched job, which can cost even more money,” said Angie’s List founder, Angie Hicks.

Not only can it be more expensive, it can also be more dangerous.

“There could be some serious injuries involved in Do-It-Yourself projects when people are handling equipment or trying to do projects they are not familiar with,” said Hicks.

Whether from falling off a ladder or getting a serious cut or other injury, 164,000 Americans end up in the emergency room every year because of do-it-yourself accidents.

“And now because of the injury, they are out of work for a prolonged period of time and they’ve got a health expense that they certainly were not budgeting for. It all boils down to often times loss of appreciation of how dangerous the tools are,” said Dr. James Creighton.

If want to tackle something yourself … Make sure you’re skilled enough to handle the job and the tools. Just because it looks easy, doesn’t mean it is. And recognize some jobs should be left to the experts.

“Homeowners should avoid projects related to plumbing and electrical as far as do-it-yourself and hire in a pro for those,” said Hicks.

3 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Tackling Any DIY Project:

1. What experience (if any) do I have? Just because you’re not afraid to take on a project – doesn’t mean you should. Be realistic about your skills. Not having the expertise could lead to additional costs and work. Also, you might find it difficult to find a contractor who will fix your snafu.

2. Do I have the time? Many home improvement projects take weeks rather than days. Measure the inconvenience against the cost of hiring a professional.

3. Do I have the right tools? If you have to go out and buy a power saw, but don’t plan to use it again in the future, it’s probably not a good investment.

Angie’s List Tips for Making Hiring Decisions:

• Call at least 3 contractors for estimates and check references, credit history and business standing.

• Ask about licensing. Make sure the contractor is properly licensed for the job they will perform.

• If your home was built before 1978, confirm that they are meet the EPA’s new lead paint certification requirements.

• Get estimates in writing. Documentation is often the best ammunition you have if things go wrong.

• Beware contractors who give you only a PO Box or answering service as contact.

• Clearly communicate the updates/repairs you want done. A rough idea on paper is better than nothing.

Reported By Jim Donovan, CBS Philly

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