Problems With DIY

Posted on September 26, 2012

Gutting my house and remodeling it primarily by myself and help from some loving family members, has taught me a lot about why you should hire contractors. Here are some common sayings and how they have proven to be true for DIY projects:

You are your harshest critic. There are cut lines, or seams, in my baseboard and I am the only one that notices it apparently. As much as I appreciate everyone lying to me that they don’t see what I’m pointing out, it bothers me every time I see it. Unfortunately, I know where every mistake happened during the construction and know all the details that went wrong to cover it up too. I’m not sure if this is true for all homeowners, or just remodelers, but when I look at my house all I see are the things that still need to be done. No matter how many compliments I get on the remodeling and decorating, (which I honestly appreciate because it brings me out of a world of pessimism for a while) I still see the small mistakes. For this reason, I know that my dream home will not be one that I build or work on myself at all, for the sake of my sanity.

You get what you pay for. I’ve said this before in a post about remodeling tips learned the hard way, but I was referring to friends and family members then. This time I’m talking about YOU! Sometimes you’re just not in the mood to do a project to the best of your abilities and ‘good enough’ takes over. Especially when you are paying rent and a mortgage because your house isn’t livable yet until you finish all the projects on your list. In my case, the reason I am still remodeling 5 years later is because I am now re-doing every project that was done ‘good enough’ at the time. So, my suggestion is to not even start a project until you can dedicate whatever time and resources are necessary to do it as well as a contractor would, if not better.

Ignorance is bliss. This saying is exactly why my dream home will be done by professionals. Growing up, we just had a garbage can under the kitchen sink. Since my kitchen is fairly small, I decided to put my garbage can under the sink as well. Problem is, I stained my own cabinets. It took two coats of two different stains, a couple coats of poly, and 16 hours of work to transform my cabinets into the deep, succulent cherry color that they are now. So you can imagine how much my stomach sank when I saw the scuff marks the garbage can was leaving. I didn’t understand because I’ve never noticed this at my childhood home where the cabinets- and garbage can- are over 25 years old! How can this be? Well, I didn’t stain the cabinets at my parents house so naturally didn’t notice if they ever got scuffed up or not.

These are not my cabinets, but they are the same color.

As much as I love having a house with tons of sweat equity, it’ not for the faint of heart. You have to somehow care immensely about a project while you’re working on it and then completely forget about it once it’s done. If you ever figure out how to trick your brain into doing this, I beg you to please let me know!

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  • Soh

    I agree with Darren’s answer. Sounds like you will hire a genaerl contractor. Ask them for their license and insurance documentation up front. Check their license number online. They will have to pull at LEAST electrical and plumbing permits and coordinate inspections with the city/county where you live. The biggest mistake people make is not having clearly outlined expectations and a written contract. Have drawings done by the contractor (or someone else if necessary) to review everything to get on the same page so there are no surprises. I would suggest including time-frame stipulations in the contract. Many unqualified contractors take advantage of homeowners in this regard for example, not showing up for weeks at a time. And finally a reputable contractor will NOT ask for money up front, but rather payments made based on construction progress. If the contractor cannot afford to buy materials up front to do the work, then they are not financially stable enough (or experienced enough) to be trusted.

    • Mahaley

      You rlealy found a way to make this whole process easier.