“It always looks so simple, especially when they do it on TV. Anyone can caulk the bathtub, or install a new light fixture…and think of all the money you can save by Doing it Yourself? But before you tackle one of these projects, do yo have the right tools, do you really know what you’re doing? Maybe you’re ready, but maybe you’re not.”
Denise Buck & Ed Johnson – DC Metro Realty Team
“The road to the hardware store is paved with good intentions,” says David Pekel, president and CEO of Pekel Construction in Milwaukee and a master certified remodeler. He is often greeted at his office on Monday by frantic calls from homeowners who failed in their DIY weekend projects.
Just know this: “It takes twice as long as you think it’s going to and generally costs twice as much,” Pekel says.
Here are 11 tips for avoiding your own DIY disasters.
Measure twice, cut once. There is a reason this proverb has been around for decades. If you cut your crown molding, tile or paneling too short, you can’t go back and make it longer.
Beware of plumbing projects. Most people can change the insides of a toilet, but problems can still arise, as Prescott discovered. If you have just one bathroom, be prepared to stay overnight elsewhere if something goes wrong. Make sure you turn off the water before you start any plumbing project.
Leave electrical projects to the professionals. If you know what you’re doing, you can change a light fixture. But replacing a light fixture with a ceiling fan involves more than just changing the fixture. Other electrical projects are even more complicated. If you do give it a shot, turn off the breaker before you touch anything.
Look for instructions online. You can find a YouTube video or detailed instructions for any project. But if that’s all the information you have on a project that you’ve never done before, beware. A video on building a deck from someone in Florida may not tell you what you need to get the deck to withstand 80 inches of snow, and a video from Minnesota on building a deck may not have the instructions you need to ensure your deck can survive a hurricane.
Take a class at Home Depot. Nearly every week, Home Depot stores nationwide offer free classes on everything from replacing a faucet to tiling a room. Be mindful that you need to register ahead of time to participate in these workshops.
Ask questions at the hardware store. Most hardware stores, and even some big-box stores, have experts on staff who can answer questions about home projects. If you’re replacing specific parts, bring along the parts if you can rather than trying to remember what they look like.
Use the right tools. You can rent or borrow some tools if you don’t own them yourself. Hint: If you’re going to assemble a lot of Ikea furniture, invest $20 in an electric screwdriver.
Know which work requires a permit. Some cities are stricter than others about permits, and only licensed contractors can obtain permits for some work. Doing major renovations without a permit could cause problems when you sell your home. Some cities require presale inspections, which can result in fines and the need for retroactive permits. That can mean redoing the job to city specifications.
Know what you can and can’t do yourself. “If you have to go to YouTube to learn something, you probably don’t know what you’re doing,” Pekel says. Homeowners often “don’t know what they don’t know.” If you mess up a painting project, you can always redo it. But if you take down a load-bearing wall and bring the second floor down with it, you’ve created a very expensive problem. With DIY projects, being cautious is typically the way to go.
Consider what your time is worth. If you earn $100 an hour and replacing a faucet takes you three hours, you would probably save money by hiring a plumber.
Be prepared to live with the results. That includes both the quality of work and the time your house will be in disarray. Can you install crown molding well enough to be happy with the results? Or will it forever bug you that it’s not exactly straight? That goes for more complex projects, too. If you gut the kitchen and end up taking six months to redo it, can you live without a kitchen that long?
Written by Teresa Mears, Originally appearing in US News