Things to be careful about when remodeling on your own
By Erik J. Martin
Going it alone in life can have its advantages. You don’t have to depend on others who can let you down. You can set your own schedule and agenda. And you call the shots, of course.
But when it comes to a home improvement project or home renovation diy, the do-it-yourself projects can sometimes backfire if you are not cautious or prepared.
“There are a few dangers that come with DIY remodeling. First, if you are not experienced, you could end up damaging your home. Second, you could end up injuring yourself. And third, you could spend more money than you need to,” says Shaun Martin, owner/CEO of Real Estate Solutions.
For instance, if you’re not a skilled handyman carpenter or have talent in electrical work, you could easily produce inferior work or harm yourself during the project, he cautions.
“Even if you are experienced, attempting to do something beyond your aptitude level could still result in negative outcomes. And if you don’t have the right tools or materials, you might spend more money than if you had hired a professional contractor to do the job correctly from the start,” Martin adds.
Rand Haj Hasan, an architect and spatial designer with Rand HajHasan Architectures, says one of the biggest no-nos she observes among DIYers is poor planning.
“When interior remodeling, you might lose a lot of time and even money when you have to repeat steps,” she says. “A very common DIY mistake I’ve seen is when they buy furniture before measuring and double-checking the available space.”
Granted, DIY work has ample benefits.
There is generally a cost-saving, and the work is done the way you want it. It’s also done within your timeframe.
You can also gain a proud sense of accomplishment from your sweat equity applied to the job.
Plus, by doing something yourself, you should better understand how things work – so if something goes wrong in the future, it’s even faster and easier to fix.
If you are determined to go it solo without hiring a pro, it’s essential to follow best practices.
Before attempting a project, talk to a professional contractor about what that project will likely require. Most interior renovation projects will require a permit from your local building department. Getting a permit is a good idea because it will ensure you follow safety standards and that the project follows building codes. This becomes important when selling your house – the future buyer will want to know that home improvements were done correctly.
Avoid starting any project until you know the full scope of what you are getting into.
One of the most common problems is disturbing toxic materials like mold, lead, or asbestos. Once disturbed, they can contaminate the entire home or workplace. This is why having your home tested for environmental toxins is highly recommended prior to an interior renovation, or exterior remodel, especially in older homes.
Additionally, aim to stick to basic projects within your skill set, such as painting and trim work. Leave specialized work like electrical, HVAC, plumbing, and roofing to experienced professionals, or professional contractors.
Also, check out YouTube DIY. Not all diy youtube videos will show you the correct methods, but many will give you an idea of what a project will require. Watching multiple tutorial videos will give you more information and ideas than just watching one.
Ponder the disruption and mess your work will create, too.
Something like drywall sanding can spread throughout an entire house if not contained, so take proper precautions.
Lastly, don’t get in over your head. Get assistance if you feel overwhelmed or outmatched by a project you’ve started.
“Know your strengths, but more importantly, know your weaknesses. Make sure you ask for help in areas where you are less talented, and avoid pretending you can do it all on your own,” says Haj Hasan.