DIY home remodeling is great until it isn’t. Here’s how to keep it great.
It was their first plumbing project. “It was just a small crack in a pipe,” says Tina Kellegher. She and her husband, Dave, had just purchased an unfurnished dwelling up in Co Kildare that they planned to renovate and rent.
They picked up a new piece of PVC pipe from B&Q to replace the cracked one. “We installed it, glued it, gave it 24 hours to cure. The next day we turned on the water and it busted at the seams. Thankfully we had extra pipe and did it again, this time allowing it to cure for two days. Same story.”
We returned to the store and started asking questions.
Turns out we had made one of the most common DIY mistakes: choosing the wrong material for the job. “Our downfall was not doing enough research. Turns out we picked PVC pipe for drains and not one that would hold the pressure of water lines.”
Whether you’re choosing tile, flooring, lighting, or cabinets, making the right choice can make or break your success. Get the right materials Our Top 5 Tips That Will Protect You from This (Costly) DIY Mistake!
1. Set a Budget for Every Item
Make a budget for every single item you’re purchasing, says B&Q worker Timothy O’Connor. Otherwise, you may blow it all on a sexy plumbing fixture, but then choose the wrong flooring, for instance, just because it’s cheap and you want to keep on track.
“You can always compromise, but having a budget will help you manage and get the choices right from the get-go,” Tim says.
2. Shop Where the Pros Shop
Not to discredit hardware giants like B&Q, Woodies and so on; they’re great for many things. But you have to know what you’re getting into, says Gary, a tradesman from Helpers.ie “The hardware store giants are huge so most of the time you don’t get the service and the professional advice you’d need which can be critical, especially if you’re not an experienced DIYer.”
For example, he says, “You might purchase treated lumber for an outdoor deck, but no one tells you the nails you bought aren’t for outdoor purposes. At a lumber yard, they’ll let you know and say: Hey, those two items don’t go together.”
Additionally, Gary says some manufacturers will make two versions of the same product: a more cheaply made one for major retailers and another for supply stores that sell to professional contractors. “I purchased one product at a retail store that had PVC supply lines, and the exact same product from my supplier that had solid copper fittings,” he says. Homeowners can have access to suppliers through their contractors and few stores also sell them directly to consumers.
3. Try It Out Before Committing to It
Evelyn, a homeowner in Dublin, thought she was doing all the right things when she chose backsplash tile. She went to a local tile store. She bought along her cabinet sample, and they knew her floor, a wood-look farmhouse tile, which she’d purchased from them. “The owner took his time with me every time I went to the store and there were a lot of times I went to the store,” she says. It took her two months to decided on a clear tile. “I thought clear tile would be less noticeable, not clash with the concrete.”
She hired a local installer on Helpers.ie who put up the tile on two walls before her husband saw it. “I wound up in tears all night and asked them to take it down,” she says. The installer did beautiful work, but “what looked great in a small sample turned out to look way too “tacky” once the walls were covered. It didn’t fit the rest of the industrial loft vibe at all.”
Evelyn says the mistake was a “huge budget buster.” She had a thin concrete backsplash installed instead. “If there’s a next time, I would order a box to see if I liked the look first,” she says.
4. Invest in the Right Tools
Here’s a good place to practice balancing durability and cost: Get the right tools for the job.
“You can buy a paint brush from Euro General for €2, but you won’t get good results,” says Jordan, who recently retired as owner of a painting company and now runs Front Range Coating Consultants in Co Wicklow. “Good paint brushes cost more for a reason.”
Lorcan says: “Cheap paint brushes are like straw, flaring out and not holding their shape. A good quality nylon or bristle brush, on the other hand, will allow for nice, straight lines. For a few euros more, you’ll save a lot of hassle and get a more professional-looking result.
“The same goes for roller covers and paint,” Lorcan says. “Spend a little more money on a brand name or something of good quality.”
What if you need a costly tool?
“We sometimes rent a bunch of tools; it’s a great option,” Lorcan says. In addition, many counties have tool lending services where you can borrow bigger items. “When you buy your materials, always ask what tools are going to aid in your success,” Lorcan says.
5. Be Vary of What You Buy Online!
Buying things online might be cheap and convenient, but when you’ve purchased a 700-pound bath-tub from ebay or any other cheap online source only to discover it’s scratched or too heavy for your second-floor bath, you’re going to have a hard time sending it back. “It’s important to see and touch the products,” Shea says. “And you’ll have an easier time with returns at a retail shop or professional wholesaler.”
Although it’s enticing to think you’ll save money by purchasing the cheapest materials and save time by doing it yourself, you’ve got to weigh the value of your time against the inevitability of things not fitting, arriving broken, or not lasting. Otherwise, you’ll be spending your free time wandering around the B&Q or the Woodies rather than kicking back and sipping pints in your newly renovated space.
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