“DIY vs. Disaster: Repairs That Could Cost Big

We’ve been taught over the years that when we own a home, we have to be doing our repairs. There may be some truth, but if you decide to sell your house, some DIY jobs could raise a flag when the buyer brings in their home inspector.  Be very careful of the work that you decide to do. DIY Repairs that sellers should reconsider doing or risk spending thousands.  Some DIY repairs could cost you much more than the money you saved by doing it yourself. Despite the strict municipal codes, not to mention the expense of paying a professional, there are some jobs that you should leave to licensed professionals, no matter the cost.

I’ve seen plenty of DIY home repairs caught by home inspectors; whether it is a code violation or a lousy renovation, many have cost the sellers a lot of money on the sale. I’ve done many repairs on my home over the years, some of which I am not so proud of when I eventually had to hire a professional to fix it properly. Safety and keeping your home systems functioning correctly are the main reasons why knowing that the job has been done right is money well spent.  Here are some repairs that you should seriously consider hiring a licensed professional.

  • Electrical
  • Plumbing
  • Roofing
  • Decking
  • Landscaping **

Once a home inspector sees one bad DIY repair, they will spend extra time on other areas of your home while doing the inspection.

 

DIY Electrical Repairs

I saw a bumper sticker read, “Electrical work is not a hobby, hire an electrician”.  In my opinion electrical work is the most important DIY repair home sellers should reconsider doing it themselves.   I passed that to my home sellers and recommended hiring an electrician when there is electrical work to be done.  Some electrical work may seem easy enough, but could be risky if not done correctly. 

When adding or changing an outlet, switch, or light fixture.  Most licensed electricians not only know the code, but it is also second nature that they make the repairs or installations to code without consulting the code. A repair that would take most of us half a day would take the professional an hour or two; after all, time is money. Most municipalities have strict codes, and your DIY repairs could raise a flag for the home inspector inspecting your home. Not knowing the up-to-date regulations could cause personal injury or even a house fire. When electrical issues appear on the inspection report, nine times out of ten, the buyer requests that the seller hire a licensed electrician to make these repairs. Here are some of the issues that home inspectors find

  • Overloaded circuit boxes
  • Wrong wires are being used
  • Exposed wire
  • Improper junction boxes

DIY Plumbing Repairs

It is only a leaking faucet; a few turns here and there, change the pipe, and go on with your life, right?  Make sure you are doing it right; if not, water will seek the path of least resistance and could cause water into areas you can’t see. But rest assured that they will come back to haunt you on inspection day if left alone. Water can cause significant damage to your home, flooding, or wood rot and mold. 

Mold 

is a severe health issue for many people and an absolute dealbreaker for some.  I always recommend that my buyers educate themselves about mold.  I’ve seen buyers walk away from some good houses where the mold remediation was not very bad. We see mold in many home inspections, and most cases are relatively easy to deal with.  A mold remediation specialist will correct the source and remediate the mold. 

  • Change the washing machine hoses every 4-5 years
  • Turn the washing machine water supply off when not in use
  • Check appliances for water leaks, the refrigerator water line, the dishwasher, the water heater, and the washing machine. If something seems off, call a plumber. 
  • Watch what you flush down the toilet, especially if you have a septic tank.
  • Shut off the outside weather supply in the winter.
  • Keep your drains clear.

DIY Roof Repairs

Fixing roof issues is arguably DIY Repairs that home sellers should not do themselves.  If you have an issue with your roof, it is in your best interest to call a qualified roof contractor.  Insurance for a roofing contractor is quite expensive, and not all general contractors carry insurance to go on the roof.  So make sure your contractor is covered when you hire one.  When it comes to roof repairs, the labor will most likely cost more than the material, but If you have a few roof shingles to replace, your roofer will know all the tricks to do the job quickly and efficiently. 

A good home inspector should be able to tell the approximate roof age based on wear. They will also point out trouble spots that may leak or become a problem. They will point out how many layers are on the roof so you can plan future replacements.

DIY Deck Construction 

I know plenty of homeowners who are able to build or repair a deck, and they would be the exception if done to code.  Unless you are confident building a deck, this is a DIY Repair that sellers should reconsider doing or risk spending thousands.  We’ve all seen the stories on the news where a deck collapses at a party, and guests are hurt or even killed. Think about that when you are thinking about taking on a deck DIY deck repair. Deck for YouTube videos. A properly built deck that is not overloaded has a slim chance of collapsing. Home inspectors should look closely here and could even get dirty here, often crawling under and around decks. This is an area where they will find DIY and shoddy craftsmanship. Here are some of the issues that Home inspectors often find. 

  • Improper footings
  • Not anchored to the house properly
  • The property below the deck is not properly graded
  • Wrong grade of lumber
  • Loose railing 

DIY Landscaping

**Landscaping is an area where you can follow a few basic rules.  You should be able to do some basic landscaping on a budget.  Check with your real estate agent to recommend a landscaper to make corrections properly.  The buyer’s home inspector will pick up on landscaping issues, such as severely cracked sidewalks, any water pooling around the house from the downspouts, or a poorly graded yard. When a house has poor grading, water could find its way in.   One way to correct a bad grade is to take soil from the parameter of the property and use it to raise the low spots along the foundation.

Have you had an exterminator contracted to treat your home and yard? This is important because the wood-destroying pests will find their way in if the landscaping conditions are right. There are a few essential landscaping tips to prevent this: keep from planting anything within 8″-10″ from your foundation, and trim all shrubs and branches so they are not touching the house. Be careful of the mulch that you use around your house. Avoid using the free untreated mulch that townships sometimes provide; use only treated mulch if you use mulch. Something that I learned from watching home inspectors is if you will use mulch, landscape with gravel between the house and the mulch, this will minimize the termites, I placed 12″ of gravel around from my house then started the mulch.

Am I able to do my own Landscaping?

Yes, landscape is an area that I know well, if you are able to get ahead of the sale this is arguably the easiest and cheapest fix that you could do.  You will add curb appeal, and that get more potential buyers to consider your house.  I love it when I am showing a house where the landscaping is a mess. Landscaping, If you don’t mind getting your hands dirty, could be relatively the easiest DIY project.  You can gather your family and friends to help; you are ahead of the game. I have another article, Landscaping on a Budget, but for now,

  • Poorly graded landscaping
  • Overgrown bushes too close to the house or roof.
  • Gutter downspouts not directed away from the house
  • Cracked driveway and sidewalks
  • Mud tunnels (termites)
  • Possible buried oil tank
  • Possible old septic tank

     

Conclusion

To conclude, DIY Repairs that sellers should reconsider doing or risk spending thousands of dollars.  DIY home repairs can seem like a great idea, especially if it will save you a few bucks.  There are some DIY repairs that you should avoid and hire a professional.  In some cases, if the DIY repair is inadequate, it can cost thousands.  Do it correctly so there are no issues when a buyer brings a home inspector.   Always do your research and get advice from professionals before beginning a repair job.  Safety and keeping your home systems functioning properly should be your top priority.

If you need a good home inspector, contractor, lender, or appraiser in the Monmouth/Ocean County area, you can send a note to our Contact Us page, and we will send you a list of qualified companies. 

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