DIY Project Inspection

DIY Pre-renovation Inspection

RELIANCE HOME INSPECTION SERVICES can help save homeowners from costly mistakes that ultimately can devalue property and pose risks to the inhabitants. Before you start, call us.

Nothing is ever as easy as it appears. There is no replacement for experience and knowledge.

DIY Project Inspection

Do It Yourself Renovation Pitfalls

You are a happy homeowner, but you could be happier looking around your home. Why? The avocado kitchen remodel vogue in the ’80s makes your morning coffee taste bad and that sink, those cupboards.  Ugh!

The Undertaking

Wielding that sledgehammer or new extreme fubar imitating the scenes of smashing cabinets and impaling walls often depicted on DIY or Home Flip shows is not a good idea. Other structural damage to framing, wiring, gas lines, heating, ventilation or plumbing can occur. A world of unseen misery may be lurking in that wall. Murphy’s Law is still Murphy’s Law.

You watch television shows and commercials promoting the ease of renovating. You ask yourself, is this something I can do? Should I bring in some professional help? You have heard of contractor horror stories and witnesses firsthand the failed attempts by friends. A little knowledge is dangerous getting you into the project but not enough to get you out and finished. What is the answer?

Before | During  | After

Always start with a budget in mind. Explore your options in the marketplace to determine what fits within the budget set aside for the project. Now add another 15 to 25 percent as contingency overrun should the project become more complicated than anticipated.

Take into consideration mismatches, mistakes, improper cuts, material waste, spills, contamination, shortages, misorders, dulled drilling bits, broken cutting blades or tool edges, burnt-out power tools, unexpected tool rentals or purchases. Expect the unexpected.

(Images: The Joinery; Josh & Maria of Two Peas and Their Pod; Phoebe)

3. Discovering The Unforeseen

If you are working in an older home, some physical damage may need repair as part of the project. Plaster lath walls or the fancy ceiling scroll or plaster mouldings are an example or worse, a sudden crack appearing in the basement wall. Shifting loads on weight-bearing structures can produce unexpected results with new problems surfacing. What had settled became unsettled.

The new upscale stainless steel Professional Chef Series appliances arrive only to discover you have inadequate wiring and require a larger electrical service panel. The plumbing is in the wrong location. The dishwasher requires a different connection. The gas line needs to be moved and lengthened or shortened and requires modern fittings. The domino effect is in play.

One area often requiring extensive repair is a bath remodel due to water damage.

Other unseen factors encountered such as a lead pipe or corroding galvanized pipe, fractured cast iron, weeping or missing wicking or flex rock packing on pipe sections, leaking seals,  ineffective venting or deteriorating plumbing in general.

The damaged area may not be extensive but still needs repair to prevent rot and mould, unpleasant musty smells or potential health issues. Less reputable builders or a well-intentioned but misinformed handyman may cover it up or ignore it completely. Your nose may become accustomed to the odour but prospective buyers will notice it immediately. Eliminate any obstacles that prevent your home from selling.

Proper repairs and peace of mind for the homeowner will withstand the test of time. The solution is to plan for the unexpected and budget accordingly. Call RELIANCE HOME INSPECTION SERVICES to act as a neutral third party to assess what really needs to be done. It’s More Than Money™.

4. Project Scope Creep

This condition commonly occurs in projects where a contractor is doing the work, and especially with DIY projects. There is a difference between what is necessary versus optional extras and modifications expanding the project, expense and timelines.

Projects can become stressful and exasperating. Resist the urge to expand the bath remodel into a whole house makeover. Start and finish one project at a time. You will appreciate the downtime to recover your wits, and let the home remodel fund increase and perhaps prevent untold aggravation and perhaps save your marriage.

5. Lack of Tools or Skills to Use Them

Hardwood Floor Restoration

Craftsmanship and proper tool use come with years of experience.  If you regularly work on all types of projects such as custom cabinetry, furniture, tile and hardwood flooring, trim carpentry, and framing etc. you will be familiar with and have accumulated the most related necessary tools. You will have the proper muscle tone and memory to prevent fatigue and accidents.

Safe use of hand and power tools is a prerequisite. Blackened fingernail beds, sharp-edged slices into flesh, injured or broken fingers and inadvertently cutting through power cords is not an option.

Chances are you are a homeowner working in another occupation and will not have all the specialty tools, knowledge or experiences that make a job go by quickly and safely. This applies to the weekend warrior as well.

If you need to rent or borrow tools, you may have a steep learning curve, and there is no substitute for experience, proper guidance and instruction.

If a 250 pound 220 Volt screaming floor sander intimidates you, get experienced professional help. Running a howling floor sander devouring layers of finish can be a rewarding experience but can quickly turn into a disaster, becoming the elephant in the room.

Can it not only scour but also burn or gouge the beautiful wood making up the floor creating new problems like turning the surface into ripples resembling sand at the beach or it can jump, scatting like a scared feline, punching a big hole in your wall if it gets away from you?

Wearing the proper apparel and foot protection will help prevent personal injury.

6. Over Build or Under Build

Selecting fine Italian Marble for the kitchen or bathroom or deciding what type of designer upscale hardwood flooring will look great in your living room is one of the fun parts of a project. The beautiful walnut may not be the right choice for a small room, making it appear even smaller when finished. The marble although incredibly attractive may not be the best decision.

The lesson here is to balance the materials and appliances with the style and value of your home. If you have a small kitchen, the food television show six-burner professional oven, although appealing, may not proportionately fit.  Conversely, an inexpensive faux tile floor will not work with granite slab counters. Keep things balanced and equitable with the rest of your home.

7. False Economy

Upgrades are relative to the value of your home and those of the neighbourhood. The substandard or clearance models are a false value when they undervalue or devalue the potential investment value of the renovation. The $12,000 bargain basement kitchen remodel that devalues your home $44,000 is not a wise project for the sake of newness or modern appearance due to limited funds.

Other factors weighing in are the handyman friend who did the electrical for pocket money or the one moving the gas line for beer and pizza and last but not least the friend—you know the one—with all of the tools who did the plumbing.

When it comes to resale and proof of work, what is the storyline?

A false economy is a false value.

8. Point of Diminishing Returns

Kitchen Makeover

Realistically assess the value of your home and compare it to similar homes in the marketplace. Invite your favourite Real Estate Agent over for a coffee and they will be glad to help you find the information you are looking for quickly. You will find it is time well spent. Will the $45,000 spent on remodelling your kitchen increase your property value proportionality? Should you start looking for a home that has the amenities you are looking for?

According to Today, the average cost for a kitchen remodel is $15,000 to $20,000 — without the appliances. We’ve read elsewhere that the average kitchen renovation costs $45,000.

An informed decision is a good decision.

9. Aggressive Timeline

The most common error is time estimation. The devil is in the details. Most projects will take longer to complete than first thought. Chances are your “day job” occupies the week so your project demands weekends and evenings — wearing you down quick. After putting in up to 12 hours or more at your day job, commuting, having dinner, do you really want to sand drywall for another 3-4 hours in the evening? What about your weekends?

Motivation seeps away quickly as this pattern erodes your enthusiasm, tempers flare, stress increases, fatigue sets in and slows you down with the temptation of taking shortcuts becoming an attractive alternative. Plan for it!

10. Improper Sequence of Tasks

Homeowners seeking contractors to finish projects is commonplace; motivation and inspiration are exhausted with tensions high. Often tasks commenced out of sequence compound the task difficulty and increase expense and timelines. For example, the carpet installs are scheduled before the drywall completion and painting. It may seem obvious, but it happens especially when timelines fall like dominos. This same type of sequence holds true for just about every type of project. There is no substitute for professional understanding and experience.

11. I Want It Now.

Immediate gratification is hard to control especially when the impulse of renovation is first and foremost in the mind. The paint is on sale and if purchased in the morning can be completed later the same afternoon; when finished it will look like the room on the television show. Maybe change the lighting, put in the sink, change the taps, and replace the counter at the same time. They are all on sale and shouldn’t take long. It looks so easy and fast on the television show.

Before commencing, take a step back, look at the whole room, and consider the entire home. Plan your actions; ask yourself, do I want to replace any lighting, fixtures, cabinets? Once you have the scope set, do the proper prep work, patch or repair the drywall, if needed, clean the walls, remove fixtures etc. Do I have the proper tools and all of the necessary components? Be realistic about the time demands and the amount of effort and skill level required.

Call for RELIANCE HOME INSPECTION SERVICES to assess your undertaking and help protect your investment. Now you are ready to paint, get your painter’s hat.

12. I Changed My Mind.

What initially seemed a good idea now needs to be changed as new ideas or suggestions from others enter the picture. Many times hidden obstacles or complexities alter the renovation landscape requiring more aggressive or specialized construction and alterations than originally deemed necessary. Indecision on a project is a consideration as well with new information necessitating new decisions and plans of action.

Thoughts to Consider

Health and Safety Gear

If you’re a brand new homeowner, become accustomed to your new surroundings before contemplating any renovation. Those who purchase with redesign operate with a different mandate.

Remember, before any renovations call RELIANCE HOME INSPECTION SERVICES.

Prior to moving in, it’s safe to do some simple things like painting, but don’t start altering walls as they may be load-bearing and can create tremendous problems.

Living in your new space, feeling the day-to-day breath of the house, along with the ebb and flow of the seasons you will begin to appreciate what is right for your lifestyle. You might like the way the winter sun reaches back into the dining nook. Then after you and your home have bonded, think of how to make it more your expressive style. It is your home, and with proper planning and some sound advice, you will fall in love with it over and over again.

Make your plans and assemble your ideas in an organized manner and call RELIANCE for your Reno Inspection. Save yourself from grief, day one, with an informed and educated approach that will add value to your home and safeguard you from heartache when it is time to sell.

Protecting Your Property Value

RELIANCE HOME INSPECTION SERVICES hope you have enjoyed reading the Top 12 Mistakes The Amateur Do-It-Yourselfers Make, and How to Avoid Them. The fact that you found this article shows that you have put some thought into your project. Congratulations and all the success with your endeavours.

A building permit is one thing, a RELIANCE HOME INSPECTION is another. We act in your best interests identifying shortages or inadequateness that can impact the value of your home and potentially make it harder to sell in the future. Be safe, have peace of mind. Call today.


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