Homeowners may be overconfident in their DIY skills. Armed with YouTube tutorials and extra time at home during the pandemic, more homeowners have been drawn to DIY home projects to save money and bypass waiting times for overwhelmed contractors. Home inspectors see the results of increased manual labor. When homeowners go on sale, they say more “do-it-yourself” jobs are showing up as red flags.
“We want homeowners to be close at hand, but we want them to be careful about what they choose to do with their homes,” says Adam Long, president of the HomeTeam Inspection Service, which has more than 200 offices across the country. “It’s important to know when to call a professional. Saving $200 to $300 for an electrician or plumber could cost you thousands in the end.”
These are the areas where home inspectors notice a slight rise, Long says.
#1 Electrical Works
Common DIY tasks: Install a light fixture, ceiling fan, or dimmer switch
Risks: Electrocution and household electrical fires
red flags: Inspectors detect overloaded circuit boxes, wires left exposed or faulty wiring used, and improper junction boxes. “Any changes to the electrical box can be a problem, even when it seems as simple as adding a dimmer switch, wall switch, or even a Wi-Fi-enabled switch,” Long says. Aside from personal hazards, faulty wiring can cause shorts to result in home fires. Furthermore, homeowners doing their electrical work may have failed to obtain the necessary permits – approvals from municipalities that show the job has been done for the code. Failure to obtain permits may result in fines and disrupt the sale of the home.
Common DIY tasks: Change faucet or device
RisksWater leakage or sinking into the house and mold
red flagsPlumbing that is incorrectly installed or repaired can cause serious damage to a home, such as flooding, wood rot and eventually mold growth, which can affect air quality and human health. “Be careful any time you do anything with home plumbing to make sure you’re doing it safely and correctly,” Long says. Homeowners may be tempted to change a faucet or update a device such as a dishwasher. But one wrong connection can lead to costly damage. A dishwasher requires a lot of water pressure. If not connected properly, homeowners could experience major kitchen flooding.
#3 Ceilings and floors
Common DIY tasks: Installing or extending a new roof or repairing ceiling panels
RisksFall injuries and home damage
red flags: Home inspectors say that handcrafted deck fixtures are often improperly attached to the home or have loose, unsecured handrails, both of which pose safety concerns. With ceilings, homeowners may try replacing shingles. “Professionals take extra precautions and know how to stay safe on the surface while making repairs,” Long says. Roofs and countertops are some of the most expensive household items to repair — and where labor is more expensive than materials, homeowners often tend to do it themselves in order to save, says Long.
#4 horizontal grading
Common DIY tasks: Adding landscape or exterior elements that alter the flow of water around the house
Risks: Drainage, flooding and improper structural damage
red flags: Inspectors may discover puddles of water around the foundation of the house. When the house was built, the yard was rated so that water would flow away from the house. But after a few years, the scores may not have been properly maintained. This can cause water to rush around the foundation and lead to structural damage, water entering the basement, or crawling. “This is easy to pay attention to, especially when it’s raining,” Long says. “This is the best time to check that the water is moving away from the foundation. Gutters should direct the water away from the foundation as well.”
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