Angie's List: How to Avoid a DIY Disaster

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Updated: 3/26/2014 6:58 pm
Planning a home improvement project this year? If so, you’re not alone. The remodeling industry has shown solid growth for the past two years and there’s no sign it’s letting up.
Experts say some 43 million homeowners a year attempt a do-it-yourself project, and an estimated one in five suffers an injury.

Homeowner Sarah Saucedo fell in love with the look of black-painted interior doors after seeing pictures online.

"I love DIY. I love projects. I thought this one would be really simple. I’ve painted doors before. I use spray paint all the time and this was going to be really simple, maybe an hour long project if that and it turned into a huge mess," said Saucedo.

Saucedo had removed the grid on the door and took it to the garage for priming, but when she returned she found her glass atrium door shattered in a million pieces on her back patio.

“All of us will attempt DIY projects at some point in our life. Let’s face it, it’s fun, it’s your house, you enjoy doing things to make it a better place, but you need to know whether you are getting yourself in over your head. If it’s a project you’ve never tackled you might consider consulting with a professional. People don’t realize that the pros may offer some advice. They may charge you for an hour of consultation which might save you a lot of headaches," said Angie Hicks, founder of Angie's List.

Homeowner Jonathan Metzger called in a pro for help with his bathroom remodel when he realized the project was more than he could handle.

"When you get into a project like that it seems a bit daunting to begin with, but then you start the demo and you take the walls down and you take out a cast iron tub and see all the inner workings and that’s where you start to see the complexity," said Metzger.

"I think the reason DIY is still so popular is because there is so much media attention. There’s television shows, magazines, websites – all show how projects can be done but sometimes consumers get themselves in over their head," said Hicks.

When it comes to DIY repairs, Angie’s List says don’t settle for temporary fixes.
Skipping steps or forcing things together may provide temporary solutions to short-term problems, but they often don’t last.

Angie’s List Tips: Ask yourself these 3 questions before starting a DIY project

Do you have the right skills and experience? While there are several resources that tell and show you how to do almost everything, there is no substitute for the skills and experience needed to successfully fix the part of your home that needs repairs.
Do you have enough spare time? Some house repairs need immediate attention and complete follow-through, while others aren't urgent and/or can take weeks to complete. When the need to repair part of your home arises, consider your availability, the urgency of the repair and the amount of time it will take to complete the repair.
Do you have the right tools? Not everyone's toolkit has specialty items like a tile saw, air compressor or welder. If you think that you'll use a new tool several times after completing a repair, you may find the investment worthwhile. If not, your local hardware store may offer rental options.

Angie’s List Tips: 4 DIY don’ts

Don’t settle for temporary fixes: Skipping steps or forcing things together may provide temporary solutions to short-term problems, but they don’t last. Research the equipment and supplies you need before you start and then allow yourself enough time to complete the job properly.
Don’t try this at home: Rewiring your home may make you feel like you’ve accomplished something, until you electrocute yourself or position your home in such a way that it can’t be a sold because it’s not up to code. If the job requires a license, it’s best to leave it to the pros.
Don’t be afraid to get your feet wet: Start with small projects and work your way up. You may need to bring in a pro to fix your mess, and you’re out some time and money, but it’s a learning process. Start small and enjoy the satisfaction of a job well done.
Don’t be scared to ask for help: Many contractors tell Angie’s List they are willing to consult on DIY projects. If you’re unsure of what the work entails, find a contractor to walk you through the job.

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