DIY home repairs can be fun and cheap. But at the same time, if done wrong, they can be costly in the long run. Avoid these common DIY mistakes that homeowners tend to make.
If, like most homeowners, you’re interested in saving money while improving your home, building sweat equity through cheap DIY projects might seem like the answer. But DIY projects may not end up saving you any money if you don’t do them properly. In fact, many DIY improvements could end up costing you more in the long run than hiring home repair contractors, thanks to these common DIY home repair mistakes.
Using Cheap Materials
Cheap raw materials cost less for a reason. They’ll usually fail sooner, leaving you to do the job all over again. If you want your home repairs to last, plan to save money on labor, not materials.
By the same token, make sure you’re using the right materials for the job. Quarter-inch drywall might be cheaper, but it’s not going to provide the same quality of wall as the standard minimum 5/8-inch. Don’t cut corners on sturdiness and durability in the interest of saving money – unless you want to pay for the job twice, of course.
Not Getting the Proper Permits
For most fun DIY projects and Pinterest crafts, you won’t need a permit. But for some big jobs, you will need a permit and perhaps an inspection to ensure that the work is done properly and safely. Pulling the permits ensures that the job is done right – so that your new electrical wiring or wood-burning furnace is safe to use. Not only that, but it guarantees that your home will remain insurable and resalable, two important considerations for most homeowners.
Not Putting Safety First
Nothing will drive up the cost of your cheap DIY project like a trip to the ER to have a finger reattached. Always put safety first – wear safety goggles when you’re working with power tools, and hard hats when you’re working under scaffolding. Make sure areas where you’re painting, staining or stripping paint or finishes are well-ventilated. Use gloves to carry wood, rock or metal to protect your hands when hammering. Avoid loose-fitting clothing, especially when you’re working with power tools. Keep your tools and nails in a tool belt and nail pouch to protect your feet – and those of your loved ones, including pets.
Biting Off More than You Can Chew
When it comes to DIY home improvements, you need to know your limits. Working beyond them can, in the best case scenario, lead to shoddy workmanship, and in the worst case, to serious injury. Know when you need to call in the pros to tackle a project. If you’re not comfortable with a specific kind of project, maybe you’re better off hiring someone.
Similarly, make sure you’re using tools safely. For example, if you’re up on a ladder, keep your body between the rails – it might be tempting to lean over to reach that last bit of gutter, but your bodily integrity is worth climbing down and moving the ladder over. If you find yourself tempted to start using tools unsafely, it’s time to either put a stop to work for the day, or hire some help.
Not Preparing the Work Site
Whether it’s preparing the wall for painting or properly storing building materials while you work, preparing the work site in advance is crucial to getting things done right the first time, and minimizing costs. A failure to use drop cloths properly could require you to do that much more work cleaning paint off the floor when you’re done.
If you’re having building supplies delivered, you need a place to store them securely, where they’ll be out of the elements and safe from theft and vandalism, while you’re completing the job. Know where your septic tank is, if you have one, before you have a heavy delivery truck drive across your lawn to drop off materials.
There’s a reason they say, “Measure twice, cut once.” It’s important that drywall, lumber, pipes, and other materials, like countertops and baseboards, are cut to the right length for use in your DIY project. Improperly measured lumber, pipe, and other materials can easily drive up the cost of your home repairs, requiring you to buy more of whatever it was you cut too short – or do a shoddy job out of frustration. If anything, you should be cutting things too long; you can always cut it shorter, but you can’t add on more length if you cut it too short to begin with.
When it comes to DIY projects, you’ll only save money if you’re careful to do things right. Only tackle projects you’re comfortable with and hire professionals to undertake those outside of your skill set. If it’s a repair to an appliance, see if you are covered through your home warranty before trying it yourself. While it may cost more to pay someone else for some projects, you have to live with the results. That's why it’s usually worth it to shell out for craftsmanship you’ll be happy with for years to come.