You’ve watched DIY home project videos. You’ve seen fantastic home renovations completed by your friends and family. You’ve heard horror stories of professionals doing bad work. Now you feel encouraged to take on some home projects yourself. Hold on, not so fast.
When it comes to most home renovations, I don’t think you can do it yourself unless of course you are a licensed contractor.
Let’s take the issue of water staining on your ceiling or wall as an example. A quick google search will show you how to cut out the damaged drywall, how to cut a new piece to size, how to fit the patch, mud and tape and sand and prime it. You do the job and it looks great.
But next winter you are going to see water staining again. Why? Because what the DIY video you watched didn’t tell you that you need to inspect the cause of the water staining. It could be ice dams causing snowmelt to back up under your shingles and into your attic. And the wall and ceiling are water damaged again. I always say this- understanding why is more important than knowing how to fix it.
You expect your doctor to look into the reason for your medical issue, not just treat the symptoms. Think about this when you are fixing things around the house.
Electrical or plumbing work is not DIY. Improper electrical work is extremely dangerous. A few years ago, there were some DIY books recalled in North America because they actually had incorrect instructions in them regarding installation and repair of wiring. The instructions in the books could lead to fire or electrical shock.
Just goes to show you that you can’t believe everything you read. Coming from a guy who’s written a couple of home improvement books and who writes a newspaper column every week that may seem a bit strange.
In my defense, I’ve got to say I never recommend you do-it-yourself in my books. Always hire a pro.
Ever try putting up trim? Crown moulding? Hanging a door? How hard can it be, right? Aren’t there instructions to follow or a weekend workshop you can attend?
Hanging a ceiling fan? Installing pot lights? They all sound like DIY projects a homeowner could handle, right? Wrong.
Improperly sealing your pot lights can create heat loss and condensation that saturates your attic insulation and leads to mould and rot. Or using the wrong kind of pot lights close to insulation can cause a fire.
Even if you’re planning minor projects around the house—like painting, drywall repairs, finishes, trim work or even gardening–remember to wear the proper safety gear.
You might think a small job isn’t dangerous, but no job is safe without the right protection and protocols. You also need to be careful if you’re doing any demo work or making any repairs to plaster or stucco. If your home was built before 1980, it could contain asbestos. If it does, don’t disturb it—that means no sanding, no chipping, no chiseling, no nothing.
Disturbing materials with asbestos releases tiny asbestos fibers into the air. If you breathe them in they get lodged in your lungs.
If you’re doing landscaping or moving heavy stones wear steel toe work boots. Too many broken or injured feet could have been avoided–don’t ruin your summer.
One day I was helping my dad gut a room and the floor got completely covered with garbage. My dad tells me I should stop and clean it up, but I was almost done so I told him I’d clean it up later. I needed to pull down the rest of the ceiling so I grabbed a chair.
What I didn’t know was that one of the legs was standing on top of debris that was covering a hole in the floor for the heat register. When I stood on the chair the leg went through the hole and I hit the ground. A lot of the DIY blogs and videos won’t tell you that you need safety equipment.
No matter how much reading you do, how much you surf the net—or even how many chats you have with the nice helpful people at the hardware store, you will not be able to match the knowledge and experience of a professional.
Especially ones who are good at what they do. It takes years to become good at anything. It takes commitment and a lot of hard work. And that’s why no DIY.
– Mike Holmes, Professional Contractor and TV Host