You can’t do it. We can’t help. Seriously.
DIY my eye: hire a pro
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