Think twice (and read on) before you pick up that hammer to DIY home renovations—you might be better off getting a pro to do the job.
If you’re anything like us, rainy Saturdays are best spent on the couch, falling down Instagram’s interior design rabbithole and binge-watching HGTV. Even though we know our floors won’t be refinishing themselves, the simple act of watching DIY experts transform ugly houses into stunning masterpieces somehow makes us feel productive.
That’s the upside. The downside? These addictive, slickly produced shows and perfectly lit before-and-after shots trick us all into thinking we have the potential to be master carpenters with a meticulous eye for interior design. You might even be eyeing that wall between the kitchen and dining room—it can’t be that hard to knock it down … right??
Hold that thought.
The reality is that these programs exist primarily for inspiration and entertainment, and architects and contractors insist that they never tell the real story.
NYC-based architect and real estate developer Ahkilah Johnson, for example, says it drives her crazy when her husband watches “unrealistic” DIY programming because viewers-turned-contractors are generally unprepared for unforeseen conditions. “There are things you will never be able to know until you open a wall or a ceiling,” Johnson says. “People forget about the infrastructure of a building. You might have a contingency plan for your budget or your schedule, but you’ll never be knowledgeable enough to get in front of the problems that will occur.”
Even a small misstep could at best cost you way more than what you planned on spending, and at worst put you at risk for bodily harm.
You can flood your whole house if you do the plumbing wrong,” Johnson warns. “A plumber is a professional because that is a science.”
Scottsdale, Arizona-based realtor Hillary Hobson of Highest Cash Offer adds that DIY projects better left to the pros can ultimately affect the resale value of your fixer upper.
I see homes devalued every day by poor workmanship and DIY projects gone wrong,” she says. “At the time of sale, an inspector will easily notice poor workmanship and there is a good chance redoing the work will cost double what it would have cost to just do it right the first time.”
What design shows don’t tell you is that it takes more than excellent taste and a can-do spirit to successfully renovate a home. It also takes a lot of time and money. Interior designer and founder of Durham, N.C.-based Spruce Creative Studio Jourdan Fairchild, for example, considered buying a home with heaps of “potential”—until she came to her senses. “I was six months pregnant when we were house-hunting and we considered a fixer upper,” she says. “But then I remembered, ‘hello, I’m growing a baby and my husband just started his medical residency!’ I’m so glad we ultimately chose a house with a modern layout and renovated kitchen and bathrooms. There’s still plenty of work to be done to make the space thoughtful and personal.”
Does this mean you can’t venture out and do anything on your own?
Of course not. Go ahead and get your DIY on, but stick to the cosmetic jobs. You’ll save money and feel like a badass at the same time. Here are five projects you can attempt to do yourself:
- Paint. Go ahead, paint the walls, the floor, the furniture. You know from your resume-worthy experience watching HGTV that this can make a huge difference in the look and feel of your home.
- Landscaping. Show off your green thumb by sprucing up your yard and adding valuable curb appeal.
- Molding. It’s relatively easy to add this classy finishing touch to your living room, dining room and great room.
- Hardware. It’s a simple as a trip to Home Depot. You can’t underestimate the difference new hardware makes on your cabinets and drawers. You’ve got this.
- Tiles. After watching a few YouTube tutorials, anyone can handle adding a new backsplash to a kitchen for a sleek, modern look.
If you’re still determined to take on a more involved project, remember to consult a professional before you knock down walls or modify the electricity.
Think of it this way, you wouldn’t want to perform your own root canal because someone in a YouTube tutorial says it’s easy and will save you money, right? Your house is likely your most valuable asset and should be treated with the same level of care. Hire a pro, and in the end you’ll get the house of your dreams—plus more time to sit back and bond with The Property Brothers.