The Perils of DIY

I went off on a tangent about the perils of DIY in my original kitchen remodel post, but I thought it deserved its own permalink:

One problem with the growing DIY movement is that people with little talent and/or experience are making major changes to their houses after ten minutes of incomplete instruction from a television show. I’m all about experimenting and expressing oneself, but people should start small and work their way up to more complex projects. Good examples of overconfident DIY are the counters and floor in our kitchen. There has to be at least a half inch of caulk in a gap between the backsplash and the wall and the floor tiles are a case study in lazy corner cutting (pun intended).

What the people who casually flirt with DIY don’t understand is that the person who visits or buys your house will never know what it looked like before you tiled this or stuccoed that. So even if you leave everything with a better appeal than you found it, it’s all for naught if the improvements don’t measure up to professional standards. To distill this down to one sentence, you’re not just laboring to make it look better, you’re laboring to make it look normal to people with no prior frame of reference. So if a stranger comes over and asks “did you do this yourself?” you’ve done something wrong.

We had a bunch of people over to the house not too long ago and I made my wife promise not to tell anyone about the furniture I made. I got the best compliments a DIYer can get when someone remarked, “I love older houses because they come with pieces like those butler pantries,” referring to our dining room built-ins. And upon seeing our guest bedroom furniture, another person asked, “did you find a set that fit so perfectly or did you have it custom made?” For someone like me, it doesn’t get much better than that.

I should point out that when I talk about the perils of DIY, I’m mainly referring to permanent changes to a house and/or its landscape. I’m not talking about anything like homemade curtains, furniture, paint colors or anything else that is is subject to popular opinion, even though bad décor can impact consumer appeal. I’m just stating the fact that a house is more than a home; it’s an investment. DIY mostly exists to save money on labor costs. But if you do a job yourself and it cheapens your home’s value, then you really just went out of your way to pick your own pocket.

The Perils of DIY
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