You can’t do it. We can’t help. Se­ri­ously.

DIY my eye: hire a pro

Winnipeg Free Press - Section G - - HOMES - MIKE HOLMES

IAM the anti-DIY guy. Even though I talk about em­pow­er­ing you to take charge of your ren­o­va­tion, and as much as I think you need to be ed­u­cated about ev­ery as­pect of your home, I don’t be­lieve you can do as good a job as a pro­fes­sional.

When it comes to most home im­prove­ments, I don’t think you can do it your­self.

Now don’t send me cranky emails about your friend or your fa­ther who did fan­tas­tic home ren­o­va­tions and did a bet­ter job than most pro­fes­sion­als. That’s rare, and there are al­ways ex­cep­tions that prove ev­ery rule. There are far more peo­ple out there who think they can do a ren­o­va­tion job and end up screw­ing it up. (Not to men­tion that there are lots of pro­fes­sion­als who do bad work.)

The main rea­son is that do-it-your­self books or mag­a­zines teach you how to do it, but not why to do it. They don’t teach the prin­ci­ple be­hind why some­thing is hap­pen­ing, or what it means in the big­ger pic­ture.

For ex­am­ple, let’s say you have wa­ter stain­ing on your ceil­ing or wall in the house you’ve just moved into. You read the DIY books or go on the In­ter­net, and you fig­ure out 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.

Un­til the next win­ter when you get an ice dam (again), that causes snowmelt to back up un­der your shin­gles and into your at­tic. And the wall and ceil­ing are wa­ter-dam­aged again.

See what I mean? You’ve learned how to do it, and not why it needs do­ing. Un­der­stand­ing why is more im­por­tant than know­ing how. It’s like the doc­tor who treats the symp­tom but doesn’t re­al­ize there is a dis­ease. You’ve got to get to the rea­son for the prob­lem, or you’ll just keep re­plac­ing Band-Aid so­lu­tions.

What about do­ing DIY that is dan­ger­ous, such as home wiring? The DIY books make that look easy. It’s a few dif­fer­ent-coloured wires, con­nect black and white, don’t for­get the ground and you’re done.

Not quite, and let’s be very clear: im­proper elec­tri­cal work can kill you. Re­cently there were some DIY books re­called in North Amer­ica be­cause they ac­tu­ally had in­cor­rect in­struc­tions re­gard­ing in­stal­la­tion and wiring re­pair. The in­struc­tions in the books could have led 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 de­fence, I never rec­om­mend in my books that peo­ple do it them­selves. Al­ways hire a pro.

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 and it takes com­mit­ment and a lot of hard work.

That’s true even for work that sure doesn’t seem like brain surgery (which I also don’t rec­om­mend you do your­self). 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? What about shin­gling a roof? In­stalling pot lights? Mov­ing a dryer vent? They all sound like DIY projects a home­owner could han­dle, right? Wrong.

Con­nect your ceil­ing fan just to the junc­tion box or with­out enough ad­di­tional struc­tural sup­port and it will come down when it’s op­er­at­ing at high speed.

Not flash­ing your chim­ney or roof val­leys and have your new roof leak like a sieve.

Im­prop­erly seal­ing your pot lights which cre­ates 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 that can cause a fire.

Cut­ting out struc­ture to run some new duct­ing for the dryer — it wasn’t load-bear­ing, was it? — can lead to dis­as­ter. Us­ing the wrong vent hose, run­ning it too long a dis­tance or hav­ing too many bends or vent­ing it into an in­te­rior space, can lead to poor indoor air is­sues, con­den­sa­tion and even fire.

Be hon­est with your­self. Is this job re­ally one you can do your­self? Do you have the time, the skill and the pa­tience? Have you done your re­search? Have you taken the proper safety pre­cau­tions?

That’s what I thought. And that’s why no DIY.

— Postmedia News

When it comes to DIY ren­o­va­tions,

Mike Holmes says leave it to the pro­fes­sion­als who know what they’re


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