Homeowners have long looked for opportunity to keep the money in the kitty and save what they can on maintenance, repairs and upgrades around the home. This surely couldn’t be more true than in a time when people carry economic concerns as they do right now.
While I am all for rocking out with being incredibly empowered, taking on the world and embracing a solid can-do attitude, there are some instances where it just doesn’t pay to not pay to have someone else take care of this for you. Sure, it may seem like it’s saving a chunk today but there’s a saying “don’t chase good money after bad.” DIY’s can potentially multiply the cost of doing the job and more often than not, cost you more for an undo-redo than it would have to have simply hired the job out to begin with.
It’s important to know when to call in a professional. Saving $200 to $300 for an electrician or plumber could end up costing you thousands in the end. Here are some key areas where home inspectors are noticing an uptick in obvious DIYs making their way onto their reports.
1. ELECTRICAL WORK
Common DIY tasks: Installing a lighting fixture, ceiling fan or dimmer switch
Risks: Electrocution, home electrical fires and potential penalties from your municipality
Red flags: Inspectors are spotting overloaded circuit boxes, wires left exposed or the wrong wires being used, and improper junction boxes.
Any changes in the electrical box can be problematic, even when it seems minor like adding a dimmer or wall switch or even a Wi-Fi-enabled switch. Personal dangers aside, faulty wiring can cause shorts that lead to house fires. Further, homeowners who do their own electrical work may have failed to get the necessary permits -approvals from municipalities that show a job was done to code. Failing to get permits can result in fines and hold up a home sale. Depending on your municipality, they may determine that the DIY work be undone/removed and corrected by a licensed electrician – something most all buyers would expect to be done at YOUR expense.
Common DIY tasks: Changing a faucet or appliance or repairing your own leaks
Risks: Water leaks or flooding to the home, structural damage and mold
Red flags: Plumbing that is wrongly installed or repaired can cause significant damage to a home, such as flooding and eventual wood rot and mold growth impacting air quality and human health. As these specialists will tell you “there’s no such thing as a small leak.” The damage occurring from what we might think to be a small leak can result in tens of thousands of dollars in remediation and restoration of the home.
Homeowners may be tempted to change a faucet or update an appliance like a dishwasher. But one wrong connection can lead to costly damage. A dishwasher requires lots of water pressure. If it’s not properly hooked up, homeowners could experience significant flooding in a kitchen. This is on top of being mindful of specs and codes in installation that a professional would/should be aware of while most people are not. I assure you, an inspector will find and call these things out on their report so just let the pros take care of it.
3. ROOFING AND DECKS
Common DIY tasks: Installing or extending a new deck or repairing roof shingles
Risks: Injuries from falls, increased liability and potentially catastrophic damage to the home
Red flags: Home inspectors say DIY deck installations often are improperly attached to the house or have loose, insecure handrails, both of which pose safety concerns. With roofs, homeowners may try to replace a shingle, thinking it’s “no big deal” but a single shingle done wrong can cost you some seriously big bucks!
Decks and roofs are some of the highest-priced home items to fix-and where the labor tends to be more expensive than materials, homeowners are too often tempted to do it themselves for the savings. Professionals take extra precautions and know how to stay safe on the roof while making repairs. They know what to look for and how to ensure everything is locked in tight to protect your roof.
4. LANDSCAPE GRADING
Common DIY tasks: Adding landscaping or outdoor elements that change water flow around the home
Risks: Improper draining, flooding, and structural damage
Red flags: Inspectors may spot puddles of water around the home’s foundation or find evidence of it seeping its way into basements and crawl spaces. When the house was built, the yard was graded so that water would flow away from the home. But after a few years, grading may not have been properly maintained or may have been improperly shifted in the throws of your latest landscaping project. This can cause water to rush around the foundation and lead to major structural damage. Be sure to keep an eye out, particularly when it’s raining. This is the best time to check that water is moving away from the foundation and that the gutters are adequately directing water away from the foundation as well.
5. YOUR HOME SALE
Common DIY tasks: Preparing the home for sale, researching the market, marketing the home, negotiating an agreement and executing all components of the contract to mitigate risks
Risks: Major financial loss, loss of time, added stress, home staying on the market longer and going for less, fallout of a deal
Red flags: Some sellers looking to net the greatest return think they can easily do so by skipping a realtor to save the commission. Most of these sellers do themselves a HUGE disservice as they simply do not have the tools, resources and training to maximize the results on the sale of their home. Because of this, reports have shown that FSBO’s (For Sale By Owner) typically sell for 16% less than those sold by an agent and listed on the MLS. Losing 16% to save 6% just sounds like a bad deal. This, of course, is on top of the stress involved in properly:
- preparing a home for the market;
- understanding/researching the market and knowing how to accurately run good comps
- navigating showings;
- understanding all the terms of the offer (yes, there’s more to it than purchase price that will effect your bottom line);
- negotiating a winning deal;
- managing transactional and contractual obligations, timelines and tasks; and
- getting you successfully to the settlement table.
Bottom line: don’t hurt yourself by doing it yourself. You don’t have to and you really shouldn’t. Let me help you save stress AND walk away with more money on the sale of your home. If you’re interested in exploring your options, I’m happy to provide a free consultation and market analysis of your home. You’re welcome to reach out any time!