If you’re tackling a DIY project, the first thing you should keep in mind is that it will likely take much more time and money than you expect. All DIYers make mistakes, and some make more than others, but you can learn from them. We asked home improvement gurus from around the country for the most common DIY disasters they’ve encountered.
- Not getting the necessary permits. Many DIYers consider these a big hassle, but permits serve a purpose other than generating revenue for local authorities. They’re in place to make sure the job is done correctly, and so you don’t make a mistake that can end up injuring you or someone else. For some jobs, you need proof of permit, or else it won’t be covered on an insurance policy. The general rule is: you need a permit for any job larger than wallpapering or painting. If you’re unsure whether you need a permit to hang internal doors, call your local building code enforcement office and ask.
- Trying to do the job without the right supplies and tools. There’s no better way to slow a job down than to try to do it without the right equipment. There’s a reason why the pros are so good at what they do- they take the time to prepare and assemble all they’ll need to do the job. If you’re going to be doing a lot of DIY work, invest in some quality tools; buying from the bargain bin will save you money now, but it will cost you in the end.
- Not preparing the job site correctly. If you’re adding a small room, you’ll have suppliers delivering things, and you don’t want your supplies exposed to the elements while work is going on. To prevent damage and theft, properly store your supplies.
- Trying to economize on materials. The experts see it all the time. For example, many DIYers use ¼ inch drywall instead of the 5/8 inch required for an adequate sound barrier. The same rule applies for subfloors; choose a minimum of ¾ inch plywood for a stronger floor (especially if you’re installing wood flooring).
- Using the wrong type of paint. Painting is one of the most common DIY projects, and done correctly, it can give your home a new look. However, many people make mistakes when painting; they use flat paint on walls, or they use a clear sealer on their outdoor deck. Use flat paint only on ceilings, not on walls where stains and smudges can occur.
- Inadequate prep work. A good paint job is 90% preparation; clean walls, sand them down, and patch holes before you apply that first coat. A coat of stain blocker or primer is a good idea if you’re covering peeling paint, stains or oil-based paint, or if you’re painting over a dark colour.
- Dangerous conditions. There’s no quicker way to realize a lower ROI than taking a trip to the ER. Wear your safety goggles when working with wood or using power tools, and wear your hard hat when you’re under scaffolding. Don’t wear loose clothing, especially when you’re using power tools.
- Incorrect measurements. “Measure twice, cut once” should be your DIY mantra, because it’s important to remember when cutting oak skirting, pipes, drywall and wood. If you’re going to make a mistake, cut it too long, because you can always cut off a little more; you can’t add length!
- Exceeding your limits. Everyone has them- some people are afraid of heights and can’t get up on the roof, and some are afraid to work with electricity. Don’t climb up to the top rung on a ladder, and don’t try to do work that’s beyond the scope of your technical knowledge.
- Being clueless. You shouldn’t learn skills by practicing on your own house! If you know someone who’s an avid DIYer, offer to help- no one turns away free labour. If you’re in doubt about something, consult a professional; don’t try to do it on your own.
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