Josh McCabe gets a lot of customers calling him to fix their attempted home repairs that have gone wrong. As president of Rehabbers Choice in St. Anthony, Minn., he has witnessed a lot of oops, Oh No’s and OMGs.
“The biggest reason I see that homeowners try to do their own repairs would be to save money,” he says. He’s been a trained house remodeling contractor with nearly 20 years of experience.
Understandably, some repairs don’t require the help of a professional. But many of them do require tools, potentially years of experience and an understanding of the basic construction of a house.
“One of the more common ones is probably drywall repair. The tools and materials are cheap, so I think a lot of people attempt it,” he adds.
He’s been called to a person’s house that used a pre-mixed stucco mix and masking tape to tape the seams on some new drywall with the wrong sized knife. The end result was rock hard stucco sticking out from the drywall about an inch. The job ended up being more costly than if they had hired someone to do it professionally.
Some of the other projects that have gone wrong:
Quick fix products
Another product homeowners tend to try to use without success are the “quick fix” products such as ceiling texture in a can.
“Most of these items rarely do the job to satisfaction and lead to more disappointment and wasted money,” McCabe says.
Tile and toilet turmoil
“We get a lot of calls from people that have tried to do their own tile work or bathroom remodels,” McCabe says.
Sometimes they turn out decent. But to the trained eye there are usually some telltale signs that a homeowner did the project.
“Or worse yet, we have to remove it and start over,” he adds.
Let’s face it – it’s easy to fall off a roof, especially if there is any slope whatsoever. Even minor fixes of a gutter or a loose shingle can mean a slip. More than 150,000 Americans require emergency medical treatment for roofing-related accidents every year, and falls account for 76 percent of all deaths in the roofing industry.
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), workers working from heights of 6 feet or more must wear proper fall protection gear and have the right equipment for their specific project.
Homeowners have trouble with plumbing work. For example, changing a kitchen sink out can be tough. While they may not be doing anything wrong on their end, very often shutoff valves are corroded and after being disturbed don’t function properly, or begin to leak after being disturbed, McCabe says.
In older houses, disturbing galvanized piping can lead to more problems, breaking threads off, corrosion, and so on, which all lead to bigger more expensive repairs.
“Something that may seem as simple as changing out a three way light switch can lead to improper function of switches or hazardous wiring situations, leading to calling in an electrician that may now have to troubleshoot the issue resulting in higher costs,” he adds.
“I would recommend leaving plumbing and electrical work to the professionals. There are regularly changing codes that apply to these trades that most people don’t keep up with, they must abide by these codes, and often pulling permits are necessary,” he says.
Pulling permit pains
Homeowners can often pull permits for work they intend to do on their own homes. It is advised that you speak with your local building officials first to find out what steps are necessary.
“I have seen some of these issues hold up the closing on house sales in the past,” McCabe explains.
For example, some cities allow you to replace an existing light fixture in an existing location with a new one without permit. Other cities may require that you pull a permit.
Inspection date discomforts
“We take the time up front to educate our customers on timelines and inspections needed. Fairly often homeowners are surprised at the required inspections on a project which can affect the timeline substantially,” he says.
Some projects don’t require any, of course, depending on the project. But something like a bathroom remodel could potentially have three or four rough in inspections and three or four final inspections.
Things like painting, hanging pictures and smaller home repairs can be done by most homeowners with a little bit of knowledge. Using a stud finder for example to avoid hitting buried objects inside a wall cavity is a good idea.
Being familiar with the tools you are using is important, too, McCabe says.
Funding a fix
Home fixes aren’t something that homeowners would like to spend their money on, but attempting to fix them yourself – or putting them off entirely – can make things more costly in the long run.
For bigger fixes that require a significant amount of money, a cash-out refinance is one way to secure funding. You could use credit cards or borrow money from a friend.