The DOs & DON’Ts of DIY

As a home inspector, the verbage I use at the end of nearly every defect listed in an inspection report advises further evaluation and/or repair by a qualified contractor. If it’s an electrical defect, the report will likely say, “Recommend repair by a qualified electrician.” If a roof shows some advanced wear, the report may state, “Recommend further evaluation by a qualified roofing contractor.” As inspectors, our guidance generally must point clients to qualified professionals as they are the ones most qualified and (hopefully) capable of fixing the problem correctly.

In reality, though, there are some things most homeowners are perfectly capable of doing on their own. In fact, with all the responsibility that comes along with homeownership, it’s in the best interest of every homeowner to become as “handy” as possible in order to properly maintain their home and save money. Of course, knowing what to do and how to do it is extremely important, and no one should ever tackle a job they aren’t fully capable of doing on their own.

So what are some things most homeowners can likely “DIY?” One relatively simple thing is painting. In most cases, painting is not as much a “repair” as it is a cosmetic upgrade. Sometimes, though, painting is a necessary maintenance task and one you can likely do just fine on your own. Decks, for example, are often painted and need repainted periodically to hold up against the elements. By painting the deck yourself, you’ll enjoy a sense of accomplishment as well as a major savings.

Caulking is another relatively simple DIY project. As caulking deteriorates over time it needs replaced, and applying caulk is something nearly anyone can do (although it can be somewhat of a messy job). To apply caulk, simply remove the old caulk completely, thoroughly clean the area of any debris and residue, and apply a new bead of caulk using your finger to smooth out the bead. Of course, be sure you choose a caulk that is designed for the specific application and follow the instructions to observe adequate dry times.

Several outdoor maintenance jobs are easy for most homeowners. Keeping vegetation at least six inches from the house only requires a few standard tools and a bit of time and effort. Cleaning out gutters – provided they aren’t too high and you are safe on a ladder – is also not difficult.

If you possess some basic carpentry knowledge, you are likely able to do many things to improve your home’s safety, function and aesthetics while reducing costs. Installing handrails, prehung doors, and even laminate flooring are all relatively easy tasks for homeowners with a little know-how.

Often times, calling a professional is simply the only viable option and one of the costs of owning a home that will inevitably need repairs over time. But by educating yourself and honing some basic skills as you gain experience, you may find that some tasks that once seemed impossible to do on your own are suddenly quick and simple afternoon jobs.

So to recap, every homeowner should take the time to learn some basics regarding home repair and maintenance in order to keep up with smaller jobs and save money whenever possible. But know your limitations, and always call in a professional for any bigger jobs or repairs you aren’t 100% comfortable and capable doing on your own.

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Author: hillinspections

I am a Certified Master Inspector (CMI) and the owner and operator of Hill Property Inspections LLC, the top-rated inspection company in the greater Johnstown, PA area, based out of western Pennsylvania. I specialize in property inspections and environmental testing services and have a passion for helping my own clients and other families in learning to properly maintain their homes. I’m also the owner of Hill Pest Control, LLC and a pest management professional committed to helping our clients rid their homes and businesses of unwanted pests. I am an Army veteran, former State Farm Insurance Agent, and real estate investor with experience in all facets of real estate construction, transaction and insurance. I am also the founder and President of the Southwestern PA Chapter of the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI) and an affiliate member of the Cambria-Somerset Association of Realtors (CSAR).

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