Homeownership comes with many expensive projects, and it is natural to want to try and handle some tasks yourself to keep costs down. For a handy homeowner, outdoor home repair is a tempting place to save money.

Roof repairs, gutter cleaning, and even tree removal are all tasks that can be enticing to the do-it-yourselfer. However, depending on the size of your project, it is important to take the time to assess the risks.

Ladder Safety

First things first: if you’re looking to do work on the exterior of your home, you are likely going to need a ladder. Falling from a ladder is a very common way that people injure themselves.

It is very important that you consider the following:

  • Heed all warning labels on the ladder and inspect the ladder before you climb to ensure it is in proper working condition.
  • Ensure that the rungs are dry and free of slippery material.
  • Make sure that the ladder is on a firm and stable surface.
  • Have a friend or family member nearby who can hold the ladder steady and spot you while you work.

Should You Repair Your Own Roof?

Some tasks are best left to seasoned experts, but how can you determine if a task is something you can handle? When it comes to the roof on your house, you’re probably better off calling a professional.

Roofers are highly trained and use proper safety equipment to keep themselves safe during the job. They are also experts at repairing complex roofs, installing various types of shingles, and knowing what underlying roof damage looks like—things a homeowner won’t always know how to address.

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Gutter Cleaning Best Practices

man on ladder cleaning gutters

When cleaning out gutters, your number one priority should be ladder safety. But here are a few other things you’ll need to think about:

1. A bucket to collect the leaves from the gutter will need to be firmly secured to the ladder as you work. This can be accomplished with a carabiner or a hook.

2. Decomposing leaves inside a clogged gutter will be slippery. Be careful not to get any on the rungs of your ladder.

3. When you have completed a section of gutter that you can reach without stretching, move the ladder to continue cleaning—stretching to reach just a little bit more puts you at risk for a fall.

Cut Down a Tree Safely

While roofing is best left to a seasoned pro, tree and stump removal is something that can be handled on a case-by-case basis.

Some things to consider:

1. How tall is the tree? If you would need a ladder to take it down, call a professional.

2. How close is the tree to your home or a neighbor’s home? If it would hit property when it falls, it’s too risky to take on yourself.

3. What kind of equipment would you need? A wide tree will require a chainsaw, which introduces new potentials for injury.

4. If you’re assessing a stump, how big is it? If you can’t dig it out and move it yourself without tying it to a truck, call for help rather than risking your safety or damage to your vehicle.

When Should You Call in a Professional?

When considering repairs to a house, think about the size and shape of your home and how hazardous it would be to climb up against it. Repairs on a single-story home are going to be far less dangerous than repairs on a multistory home, and the introduction of a ladder to the equation will always increase risk.

Think about the complexity of the job as well. A gutter cleaning job might be simple enough, but a gutter replacement will require more work, the movement of supplies, and the use of tools, all while suspended high above the ground.

Cleaning Up

broken glass on ground

The risks of home maintenance don’t end in the tasks themselves. Some home repairs are going to result in debris that needs to be cleaned up afterward.

Whether you do the task yourself or hire someone to do the work, roofing, gutter work, siding repairs, and similar jobs can lead to dangerous debris.

Be careful and thorough when collecting broken glass.

If glass has shattered in your yard, make sure you are wearing thick-soled shoes and heavy-duty gloves when you collect it.

Collect the pieces you can find in a hard container like a bucket or a paint can. If the ground is hard and dry, you can even use a wet-dry vacuum to pick up smaller pieces.

Buy or rent a rolling magnet to collect fallen nails.

Roofing and gutter replacements and repairs often involve nails, and this inevitably leads to nails winding up in your landscaping.

A reputable company will do its best to clean up after the work is complete, but if you’ve done the work yourself, you need to find a way to make sure no nails are left over. Magnets can be rented or purchased to help you collect nails off the ground quickly and easily.

The Bottom Line

Before you take on an exterior home repair yourself, consider the following:

  • Are you comfortable and capable of handling the task at hand?
  • Do you have everything you need to do the job safely?
  • Have you considered yard cleanup needs in the scope of your task?

If the answer to all three questions is “yes,” then you are well on your way to getting the job done safely. But remember: when in doubt, call in the pros. It’s always better—and more affordable—to be safe than sorry.