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Top 10 DIY & Renovation Mistakes

The first thing any savvy do-it-yourselfer should take into consideration is: any new project will probably take twice as much time and three times as much money as you originally thought. 

Do-it-yourselfers have been known to make mistakes from time to time (more often than not) and these mistakes always wind up making your home improvement project more expensive and time consuming than you ever wanted it to be. 

Home improvement experts from around the country were asked for the most common mistakes do-it-yourselfers make. 

Here's the list: 

1.    Not taking out the required permits
2.    Starting a job without the necessary tools and supplies
3.    Inadequate preparation of the job site
4.    Skimping on the materials
5.    Using the wrong paint
6.    Improper preparation of walls for painting
7.    Inaccuracy
8.    Unsafe job conditions
9.    Working beyond your limits
10.    Not planning for the unexpected 

1.    Not Taking Out The Required Permits


Many DIY-ers don't obtain permits because they either worry about the expense, or don't realize they need them. Believe it or not, permits actually serve a greater purpose than just raising money for the government. They are there to make sure the job is done right. 
Some permits may appear unnecessary, but get a permit anyway. It is against the law if you refuse to comply with any city bylaws and building codes. 

Plus, for some jobs, such as putting in a wood-burning stove, you need a proof of permit for your insurance coverage. 

Here are more reasons: 

  • Inspectors will help to ensure the job is done correctly and to code for safety issues.
  • Some buyers don't want to buy a home that has had work done without a permit.
  • If your spiteful neighbor reports you to the city, or an inspector discovers you have completed work without a permit, you might be required to tear it all down and start all over with proper permits.


2.    Starting a job without the necessary tools and supplies 

When it comes to tools, you can't go wrong with buying professional tools that are designed to perform specific functions. Nothing slows down a job more than not having all the tools and materials you need. While you can get by using a drywall gun to screw deck boards to a joist, you cannot use a hacksaw to make precise miter cuts with any accuracy. A 9-volt cordless drill may not be the best option to drive six-inch screws through beams. 

Gather the appropriate tools prior to starting any project. In the long run, it will cost you much less than doing the project over again. 

Some tips to keep in mind when doing work: 

-    Wear safety glasses
-    Don't stand on the top rung of the ladder
-    Cover up or remove furniture and items that you don't want to ruin by accident
-    Put plastic down to protect your floors from damage 
-    Shut off the breaker if working with or near electricity
-    Clear all unused debris regularly 
-    Use a spacer block as a guide when cutting small pieces on the table saw
-    Use common sense 

3.    Inadequate Preparation of the Job site 

If you are building an addition or doing renovations, suppliers may be delivering materials. You don't want them out of order, or exposed to weather while you're working. If materials are not properly stored, they may get stolen or damaged. Plan ahead for your delivery dates and find storage solutions, and have the delivery drivers deliver there. Work smarter, not harder. 

4.    Skimping On Materials 

Don't skimp, if you shop carefully, you can still purchase quality items and materials. Buyers will notice if you install quarter-inch granite countertops or plastic baseboards. The quality of the materials you buy will be evident in the final presentation of your renovation. 

Using ¼ inch drywall for building walls, instead of the minimum ¾ inch will allow sound to travel through the walls easier.

Ceramic tiles worth 50 cents per square foot will probably crack in no time.

You want the quality of your work to shine through the home, use materials that enhance the home, not cheapen it.

5.    Using the Wrong Paint

Painting the home is rated the #1 best home improvement and can really bring out the best in a home. Flat paint should only be used for ceilings because it's usually not as washable as paints with an eggshell or satin finish.

On outdoor decks, use a linseed oil based stain, it drives the pigment into the wood and preserves it. Clear sealers don't block UV rays and may peel over time. 

6.    Improper Preparation of Walls For Painting

A good quality paint job is 90% preparation, 10% on everything else. Clean the walls, patch all holes and chips, sand them before you paint. Use a coat of primer prior to your designated paint color. This helps with a smooth, even look. It also helps when painting a lighter color over a darker color.

7.    Unsafe Job Conditions

Nothing diminishes your return on investment like a trip to the emergency room. Hard hats, safety goggles and standard safety equipment are needed for working with power tools, scaffolding, and chemicals.

Open windows and use fans when working with paints, stains, or stripping or bonding products. Proper ventilation supplies you with fresh air and, combined with the use of fans, can decrease your drying time. Loose clothing is not recommended when using power tools and saws. Keep all extension cords and debris out of the way, and make clear walking paths that are always free of obstacles.

8.    Inaccuracy

Measure twice, cut once. It is important for things to look good and improper cuts and spaces deplete the look of the job. Spackle can't cover up everything. Take your time to do the job properly. A poor finish can definitely decrease the value of any renovation.

9.    Working Beyond Your Limits

Everyone has limits in regards to physical and mental capabilities. Whether it is a fear of heights, or being baffled by electrical work, know what your limits are. You may be a great DIY plumber, but painting may not be your strong suit. Before you tackle a job, think about the job from its inception all the way through to its completion. You don't want to reach the halfway mark and discover you can't finish.

10.    Not Planning For The Unexpected

You have no idea what you will find when you tear open walls or remove floors. There can be anything from mice to termites, to rot and mold in there. Or wiring that is out of date, or pipes that need rerouting. The list goes on. Pad your budget and allow yourself a bit of flexibility to help accommodate the not-so-nice surprises.

Renovating your home before listing it as a For Sale By Owner (FSBO) Listing can help increase the value of your home. Just be sure to follow these tips to renovate safely and affordably.

For more detailed information on Selling your home as a For Sale By Owner listing, learn more about our comprehensive For Sale By Owner (FSBO) Selling System

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