Home improvement expert says 'Do it yourself, but do it right'

Paul LaGrange The Home Improvement Show
March 27, 2017 - 7:16 am

Don Ames Reporting

A lot of homeowners take on do-it-yourself projects this time of year. 

Home Depot has hired hundreds of workers in New Orleans to help handle the amateurs packing their stores. 

A do-it-yourself project can mean saving a lot of money. And, a lot of TV shows make it look easy. But, it can often take more time and money than expected, and cost a lot more if a project goes wrong. 

"Folks normally underestimate the amount of time it takes to complete a project," says WWL's home improvement expert, Paul LaGrange. "But, they also underestimate the cost of materials it takes to complete it, as well. So they're always blowing their budget for what it takes to get things done."
He says what appears to be a simple job may be more complicated than expected. 

A smart amateur should probably approach any new home project by taking the original estimate and factoring in twice as much time and three times as much money.

According to a survey by Co-op Insurance, nearly one in ten homeowners have had a do-it-yourself project go wrong, with the average cost of correcting the mistake put at $2,800. 

"There's lots of things, in reference, that can go toward that 28-hundred dollars -- the amount of time it would take to get the project done, or underestimating materials," says LaGrange. "Sometimes, I've even seen homeowners injure themselves because they don't know how to use power tools properly and end up with additional medical costs. So, I can certainly see 28-hundred dollars as realistic."

He says many do-it-yourselfers believe in the mantra 'More is Better', but that's not true in most cases.  

"For instance, I remember a story very well of a homeowner taking a five-gallon bucket of sealer and pouring it on top of her deck and just spreading it around with a mop and expecting it to dry. It didn't dry for months. So, yeah, more is definitely not better."   

LaGrange says improper preparation of walls for painting is one of the mistakes he sees most often. He says a good, quality paint job is 90% preparation.

"A common mistake I see is that they don't prep the walls before they paint. So, therefore, they're disappointed with the end result."

Often, a project leaves paint splatters on carpets and flooring, walls damaged in an attempt to put up shelves, or burst water pipes.

The Co-op Insurance survey also found that women were more likely than men to admit when a project had gone awry. And following DIY mishaps, 40 percent of people said they would be likely to call in a professional builder or handyman in the future.

A Bankrate survey of home improvement experts around the country found the most common mistakes a home handyman, or handywoman, might make are:
*Not taking out the required permits. The rule of thumb is that you need one for anything larger than painting and wallpapering. It doesn't hurt to call the building department and ask.

*Starting a job without necessary supplies

*Inadequate preparation of the job site

*Skimping on materials

*Using the wrong paint. Flat paint should be used only for ceilings because it's usually not as washable as paints with an eggshell or satin finish.

*Improper preparation of walls for painting 

*Unsafe job conditions. Wear safety goggles when using power tools; hard hats when working under other people on scaffolding; gloves when carrying wood, metal and rock, or when hammering; and open some windows when painting or staining. No loose clothing.

*Inaccuracy. Measure twice, cut once. You can always make something shorter; you can't make it longer. Spackle can cover only up to a 1/8-inch seam.

*Working beyond one's limits. Don't try to work beyond your reach. Don't stand on the top steps of ladders.

Again if done right, LaGrange says doing it yourself can save a considerable amount of money.

"Every Saturday morning, I always encourage folks to take on do-it-yourself projects on 'The Home Improvement Show' on WWL. So, I'm a big proponent of do-it-yourselfers. But, there are a lot of times when you should hire a licensed, local professional to do those projects for you."

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