The home improvement job you may want to do yourself always looks easy on a TV show – done smoothly, with one problem for a bit of television drama, and finished just in time for a commercial. But the reality is that some of these projects can turn out to be quite tricky.
Done properly, a DIY home improvement project can save you money.
But the other side of that coin is that a botched DIY project is a waste of money, time and effort. Can you really do it? Do you know the ins and outs? Is the job worth the effort? Is it worth the expense of correcting mistakes?
Think Before You DIY
Most people should know that electrical work or major remodelling that changes the structure of a home should be done by professionals. But even then, some think they can handle it all. I can’t tell you how many times our company has undertaken renovations and found dangerous and illegal electrical work that a previous owner had decided to do himself.
When a home improvement project seems fairly simple, that’s the time people think about DIY without considering all the appropriate factors. Here are 8 projects that have hidden problems and complications waiting to trap the DIYer.
You may think you can save money on renovations by doing the demolition work yourself. What can be simpler than knocking down a few walls? But, behind those walls could wiring, water lines, even gas lines or… asbestos. What if you hit a lode bearing support?
Molding and Trim
If you are a competent carpenter with all the right tools then go for it. This might seem like an easy DIY home project, but you’ll need a professional mitre saw, a steady hand, and a carpenter’s eye for measurement. Baseboards require measuring three times before making perfectly straight cuts. Crown molding is even more challenging. It has a detailed profile and those details have fit together seamlessly. Screw ups, wastage, and extra trips to the hardware store are unbelievably common. Pros could have done it in a third of the time.
In addition to being very good at measuring and cutting, you’ll need to purchase specialized tools that you may never use again. If you don’t truly understand how to deal with an uneven subfloor, for starters, don’t even start this project. What if you find wood rot in the joists or even mould or an infestation?
Every DIYer thinks he can handle tiles. But cutting and positioning tiles just right is a honed skill. The difference in a great tile job and an average one is the layout and surface prep. The reason a pro makes it look so good is they have the skills to plumb up walls and square the areas to be surfaced. If you’ve elected to go with expensive tiles, remember you’re going to break many during cutting. Professionals will ensure it’s all done right.
Unclogging a toilet or fixing a drain are easy DIY jobs. But bigger projects that require reconfiguring or replacing pipes are best left to a skilled professional. Mistakes can lead to serious water damage.
To start with, working on top of a roof is very risky. Furthermore, roofing work requires very specialized knowledge. One mistake can wreck your home.
If siding is not installed securely, rain can seep underneath and cause water damage. There are many new building codes and rainscreen systems that are used on homes in the Vancouver area now and if you do not get the flashings and laps right your building envelope will not function properly to protect your home from Rot and moisture.
If you want your windows to be well insulated, secure, and water proof you’ll need specialized tools and be familiar with installation methodology. The way windows are installed now is not the same as they were in the past before rainscreen technology and new codes for insulation, vapor barriers. You need to understand the way your specific house was constructed to know how to install a new window properly. A professional will install them quickly and properly, ensuring that you’ll be comfortable and safe in your home.
So before you launch head first into any DIY home project, think a little with your ego in check. Be realistic. The financial costs of botching a DIY job can be far more than if you called properly skilled, experienced, renovation contractors. Then there’s the stress of doing it yourself and the risk of injury.
Sometimes it’s just better to leave a home project to the pros. It’s money well spent!
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