The internet is full of great ideas for your home and all kinds of videos showing you how to “fix things”. It’s easier than ever to compile a lookbook for every room in your home, landscaping your backyard, redoing your home’s exterior, and pretty much anything else related to renovating. With all that never-ending “inspiration,” you might be tempted to tackle a few DIY projects yourself! After all, those you-tube tutorials are detailed, and those social media influencers make it look so easy, right?
What you don’t see, though, is the behind-the-scenes chaos. It gets edited down into a few fun snippets or sped up into a ridiculously fast timelapse, if not thrown out altogether. It’s understandable why DIYers do this. After all, their bread and butter relies on the number of likes and click-through conversions they get. Don’t worry if most of that technical jargon goes over your head. The main takeaway is that DIY is a big niche in the design world right now — a lucrative one at that — so some of what you see might not be the most accurate depiction of DIY. If the content is too edited, you end up missing out on the bigger picture. And that can set you up for some significant missteps.
Here’s a list of some typical DIY-gone-wrong projects that will have you thinking twice about picking up that screwdriver yourself.
OVER BUDGET, OUT OF TIME
Scheduling and timelines are often grossly underestimated by do-it-yourselfers. Just because you are handy doesn’t mean you are a professional, but many homeowners assume they’ll be able to do the work as efficiently as those who do it all the time.
This miscalculation can lead to rushed work, leading to unforeseen surprises, costly mistakes, and even job-site accidents. Imploring a professional to fix the project last minute will likely cost more than the original work would have.
Even if mistake free, the work will almost always take longer than planned. If you have other trades lined up, or you’ve set up appointments for services installation, they will need to be rescheduled — possibly holding things up even longer.
Overspending on building materials can grind your project to a halt rather quickly. Trade professionals have developed relationships with distributors, local businesses, and other tradespeople to receive the best price on materials and supplies. They know who to go to for windows and where has the best price for lumber.
POOR QUALITY MATERIALS
While there are deals to be had, they are only worth having if they are actually good. Too often, homeowners try to cut corners on quality materials to stretch their budget. The outcome is shoddy craftsmanship and, inevitably, short-lived success. Redoing a part of the project, or the entire thing, will undo any savings gained by doing it yourself to begin with.
Contractors have experience using all kinds of products. They know which brands are reliable, the type of product that will work best for the job, and what to avoid altogether.
Save yourself time, excess by-product, and frustration by planning ahead. Before the project starts, go through your materials list again to make sure nothing’s missing. Knowing what materials, supplies, and tools you need will make ordering much more manageable — there’s nothing worse than a lack of decision making holding a project up.
Once you have the list completed, order as many products and materials as your budget allows. Having things on hand will keep the project moving forward. And always order the full amount of any item. You don’t want to run the risk of putting the work on hold while waiting for the rest or, even worse, the product being back-ordered for months or discontinued entirely.
This is another area where hiring a professional pays off. They have the space to store many materials or know who to call to find out the inside scoop on manufacturing and delivery.
ANYONE CAN DO IT MENTALITY
Just because the neighbor two doors down pulled off a DIY kitchen overhaul doesn’t mean you can. And just because your good buddy at the hardware store says he can lay tile doesn’t mean he actually can. The local handyman referred by a friend of a friend? They might appear to save you money, but more times than not, they cost homeowners more because projects either aren’t completed, or the results are subpar. With no contract or business insurance in place, these kinds of wink-wink agreements are impossible to rectify without spending a significant amount more – you’ll have to pay to undo the mistakes on top of paying to have it done correctly.
TURNING A BLIND EYE
So many homeowners ignore the required permitting ordinances when doing their own work. This can lead to so many problems in the future. It could impact insurance claims if something goes wrong or hold up an offer to purchase if selling. Attempting to pull permits after the work is done can be a nightmare — especially if building codes and best practices have changed.
THINKING IGNORANCE IS BLISS
No matter what the project, there will be surprises. If you are doing a DIY and come across a hidden issue, you don’t want to ignore it. Just because you couldn’t see it before doesn’t mean you weren’t this close to seeing its consequences.
Don’t pretend you didn’t see it and continue on your way. Call a professional to help rectify the situation. Yes, it will be an unforeseen renovation cost, but it will save you much, much more than that in the long run.
KNOW YOUR DIY BOUNDARIES
If you do happen to be one of those Jack of all trades type of homeowners who possesses a few of the skills necessary to check a few boxes off the to-do list, absolutely put them to work. Just make sure to focus your strengths on the right places and call in a professional for the areas that could use one.
It’s not just about knowing how to read a measuring tape and double-checking the numbers. Some projects require a particular way of measuring. For example, windows need to be measured from opening to opening and in at least three different spots. Measure incorrectly and face considerable delays in installation. Not to mention a massive bump in price.
Sometimes, it’s not just the trade that’s worth paying for, it’s also the tricks of the trade.
INADEQUATE SPATIAL AWARENESS
Uneven floor transitions, insufficient clearances, sticking doors, and awkward fixture placement are instances of poor space planning. Preparing proper scaled drawings, using tape to visually layout a room, or having a 3D virtual illustration done up will help eliminate those “we didn’t think of that!” moments when everything is finished.
LACKING DESIGN INTEGRITY
Don’t diminish the character of your home in the renovation process. Newer isn’t always better, and traditional doesn’t always tie in with everything. Sometimes homeowners get caught up in popular trends when remodeling and end up with clashing interior design styles in their home.
Using a professional to do the work means you can benefit from their industry connections. A good contractor will have worked with enough designers to connect you with someone knowledgeable. They may even have an opinion to offer on your plans based on their experiences in similar homes.
Many remodeling and maintenance projects don’t require inspections, which leaves it up to the homeowner or the person they hire to ensure local codes and structural load requirements are met. As a homeowner, you may choose to rebuild an existing structure by replacing and replicating what was originally done. Of course, what the original construction may not meet today’s standards. As you can imagine, the consequences for improper load integrity on something like a deck could be devastating.
Remember, there are t.v. shows dedicated to bad home renovations. While they may be entertaining to watch, they are certainly not enjoyable to be seen on. Save yourself the time and embarrassment of a DIY project gone wrong. Get it right from the beginning by hiring either a reliable contractor or a specialized professional. You want your projects to last a lifetime.
Santa’s Little Helpers, LLC is a handyman and home repair company based out of Tallahassee, Florida. We specialize in helping homeowners fix DIY mistakes and complete minor home renovations and repairs. If you would like to find out how we can help you tackle your home renovations and repairs, give us a call at (850) 297-2468