Canadian Contractor

Post Project Remorse is very high among DIY’ers

Failure to hire professionals results in regrets over quality and over-budget spending

November 30, 2015
By John Bleasby
John Bleasby

Hindsight is 20/20. Yet, due largely to the optimistic presentations by on-line self-help videos, DIY home renovators continue to strike out on their own despite continued disappointment and over-budget spending. A recent U.S. study, which likely mirrors the Canadian experience, suggests that homeowners who take on major renovation and improvement projects themselves are far more likely to be unhappy with the result.

Smashing walls down is the fun part. Putting them back together....not so easy!

Smashing walls down is the fun part. Putting them back together….not so easy!

Cutting corners while trying to add value
For example, refinishing a basement, or re-modelling a kitchen or bathroom leads to an unhappy result more than twice as often as when a professional is called in. Coincidentally, these three improvements regularly head the list of renovations that can increase the value of a home.

In a survey by home design site ZillowDigs, and published in Construction Dive magazine points out that, in fact, almost all DIY renovations fail in terms of satisfaction and budget control. Smaller projects, like changing a light fixture, a toilet, or painting a room fared better. However major projects did not. Potential value-enhancers like hardwood flooring or a new kitchen back-splash were also near the bottom, for example. This only points to the importance for you, the professional, to explain the scope of work carefully whenever quoting or proposing renovations to prospective clients.

What value do your customers put on their own time?
Do you sometimes find yourself facing a potential client who says they want your professional services for some things, but that they can handle the others? It usually comes down to money-saving and perhaps a bit of hubris. ZillowDigs observed that “while many people choose to tackle home improvement projects themselves to save money, nearly a quarter of those surveyed said their DIY project went over budget. With seemingly endless DIY tips and how-to videos available today, home improvement projects appear easier and more accessible than ever before. While some DIY projects can save you money, involving a professional for larger-scale projects, especially those that require specialized skills, can help eliminate headaches and costly mistakes.”


“I can do this myself!” Errr….No…Actually you can’t!
The cornucopia of TV renovation shows that air almost 24/7 across North America certainly seem to emphasize the importance of hiring professionals. When homeowners are seen either taking part alongside professional crews, or tackling side projects while the pros work elsewhere, their incompetence always contrasts with the level of professional skill required to complete even seemingly easy jobs like gluing new tiles around a fireplace.

Home improvements that DIY enthusiasts should never undertake are electrical and plumbing work, but also include roof and structural repairs, and tree removal. Yet, there are YouTube sites that seem to support the ‘You-Can-DIY-anything’ notion. Fair warning to prospective clients only seems the fair thing to do.

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