Do-it-yourself home repairs can be a way to save money, but there are some risks to keep in mind. Whether it’s installing a water heater or tile flooring, there are a few common safety mistakes a lot of people make when setting out to take on a home remodel or repair project on their own.
Home Depot Supervisor Charles Hesselbein and Pro Desk Supervisor Glenda Adams offered some general tips for individuals seeking to tackle those projects.
“People get in too big of a hurry,” Hesselbein said. “They finish it quick and cut corners. They don’t let stuff dry and it messes up and you have to redo it. Another thing is they cut corners on the stuff they are buying. They will see this cheaper item (and) well, it may not work as you expected and you will spend more to fix the problem. Those are typical.”
Adams said it’s all about knowing what you’re getting into ahead of time.
“Before you start a big renovation, check the codes in your local area so you don’t run into problems,” Adams said. “Make sure you get permits if they are needed so they are not shutting down your projects. Something as simple as a toilet can turn into several hundreds of dollars if you are not changing out all the supply lines, bringing those things up to code. Know the material and research the material you are going to work with.”
One mistake Adams said people make when working with flooring is picking the wrong type of flooring for their home. She said a mobile home owner shouldn’t use laminate flooring, as it won’t adjust to the house settling like it would on a house with a concrete foundation. For a mobile home, she suggests it would be better to use allure, a PVC-based product that will expand with the floor to prevent buckling.
When it comes to selecting the right tool Hesselbein said cheaper isn’t always better, noting that while someone may think they can get by using a less expensive tool, in the end they may have to buy the more expensive tool to redo the job. He said a lot of times tools are expensive because they are designed to do the job right.
If cost is a factor when it comes to tools, Adams says to consider renting the tool(s) instead.
“Before you buy tools look at the price,” she said. “Look for a rental center. You can rent anything from a hammer to a drill to bust up a parking lot. If you are not looking to continue to use the tool, check into renting it. If you do need to spend the money to upgrade the product, you aren’t spending the money on a tool you are never going to need again.”
Hesselbein said there are a number of projects people like to take on themselves. More popular ones include flooring, painting, doors and patch work — projects that can update the look of a room and are typically easy to perform.
According to Hesselbein, the best way to get the information you need for a project is to come into a store and talk to an experienced associate or to someone who has completed a similar project. Sometimes people can share tips they picked up while working on different types of projects. He also warned those who turn to YouTube for how-to videos should be wary of watching a single video and running with it. Instead, watch multiple videos to gain multiple perspectives, as every project will be different.
Adams said researching a project ahead of time as well as planning (along with some basic math skills) are the keys to a successful outcome. In addition, drying times are one aspect of DIY projects people often underestimate.
“The biggest thing truly is patience,” Adams said. “I am guilty of doing it. You have to have time. Make sure you have all the resources you need.”
Adams notes you don’t want to start a project you can’t finish — if it’s a plumbing or electrical project, for example, not finishing sometimes is not an option. Have all the stuff you need before you start. Likewise, Hesselbein notes that another common mistake is that if DIY-ers don’t measure right, they may either have to make their project a different size than anticipated or throw out their work altogether and start over.
“The best thing to do is plan it out. Don’t rush it,” Hesselbein added. “(With) a lot of the flooring, people will take it home without letting it acclimate. What happens is the boards will shrink and pull apart. If you put it up against a wall like a lot of people do, what happens is the walls in your house are constantly moving. Put it all the way up against the wall when the walls move in and the floor buckles. You have to leave that space. Read, to go YouTube, talk to people. As the old adage goes: measure twice, cut once. Double check stuff before you start doing it.”
What are some of your do-it-yourself tips? Let reporter Richard A. Todd know by sending an email to email@example.com. He can also be reached on Facebook and Twitter @RichardAToddHD.