Completing small renovation projects around your home can be a great way to show off your skills and save money. However, not everyone has the knowledge to undertake such projects, and here are some very common mistakes to avoid:
“What permit? Oops.”
Permits exist to ensure things are done properly. Permits also keep your insurance company updated with any necessary information to keep you covered. Contact your local building department to see whether you need one or not before you take on a new renovation. If you are going to renovate and the finished job is of questionable quality it can hurt your home’s value rather than add to it, and the delays and costs that will later result, including having to have the renovation professionally redone, aren’t worth the original do-it-yourself savings.
“Of course I know what I’m doing!”
Books can impart a lot of do-it-yourself knowledge, but that might not be enough depending on how much you’re starting out with. Watching videos or contractors on the job will let you absorb some more information and techniques to apply to your project. Start small before diving in, or ask any friends who are professional contractors to lend a hand. Many home improvement stores offer workshops that are both fun and educational. If you still don’t feel confident enough, there’s no shame in hiring someone else. Working beyond your scope leads to many of the construction accidents seen in Canadian hospitals each year.
“Old Rusty is the perfect tool for this job.”
That hammer or power drill you’ve had for years or that spectacular saw you still can’t believe you scored at the dollar store might not be the best tool for the job. Renovations are rarely one tool fits all, so buying quality tools that will last and doing the research to make sure you have all the necessary equipment will lead to less headaches down the renovation road. The same goes for building materials – saving a few dollars here and there is what so-it-yourself projects are all about, but don’t sacrifice quality if it means using thinner or weaker materials that you’ll have to replace sooner. Haggling can be your best friend when shopping for supplies.
“What could go wrong?”
Ensure you have the proper safety gear for any project. Proper clothing, tools, eye protection or masks if necessary. You wouldn’t want loose clothing to get caught in the table saw or have an errant metal shaving land square in your eye. Research the area thoroughly that you’re working in. Is there a possibility of any venomous spiders or snakes? Rattlesnakes aren’t solely residents of the dusty desert, and renovating that old shed in the backyard might lead to an encounter. Ontario’s native rattlesnake species, the Massassauga rattler, is found in the southernmost areas of Ontario and its range includes further northern areas. The Massassauga is a protected species and cannot be whacked over the head with a shovel (but you wouldn’t think of ever doing that, right? They’re endangered and the fines for harming an endangered species in Canada could buy you a decent new shed anyway). Basements are havens for spiders, and the black widow spider is found in southern Canada. Bites from black widows are extremely painful and can be fatal to children, the elderly or those with compromised immune systems. Research any critters you might encounter and have some phone numbers handy for exterminators or pest removal services.
Sometimes admitting defeat can be your best option when it comes to tricky projects that involve plumbing or wiring. Some jobs were just meant for a professional, and attempting these by yourself might hurt you, your family, or your wallet. Enter do-it-yourself renovations with confidence, but stay practical. It will pay off in the end.
Julian Merry is a Broker with Royal LePage/Johnston & Daniel Division. Julian is a regular contributor to the Muddy York Toronto Real Estate Blog. Julian’s website is located at www.julianmerry.com.