DIY Flops: The Most Costly and Time-Consuming Projects People Attempt and Fail
If you’ve been bitten by the DIY bug, few things are as satisfying as completing a home improvement project. It can help you save money, provide a sense of accomplishment, and serve as an outlet for your stress. But when DIY projects go wrong, they can waste your time and blow your budget out of the water.
Porch.com surveyed more than 1,000 people to identify the projects that most people attempt and fail, as well as how much time and money it'll take to fix the mistake.
"On average, when DIYers made a mistake [on these projects], it cost them $310 and took five and a half hours longer to complete the job," says Amanda Woolley, senior communications manager at Porch.
So when the time comes to renovate your home, be mindful of the following stats if you plan on DIYing one of the projects below. For each of the highlighted refurbishments, our experts give guidance on how to avoid making a serious DIY flop.
Time added for a mistake: 13.8 hours
Cost added for a mistake: $829
Flooring installation is both the most expensive and the most time-consuming project to fix. It’s crucial to make sure the floor is level, and then measure and cut the new flooring precisely.
“If you make a mistake early on, it could cause major problems down the line,” Woolley says. Indeed, an extra $829 is a significant price to pay for an oops moment.
“For example, hardwood can cost homeowners thousands of dollars, and when those poorly laid floors need to be replaced, it's costly,” Woolley says.
Time added for a mistake: 1.1 hours
Cost added for a mistake: $447
The time lost on an exterior painting mistake isn't devastating, but it can be pricey. And one of the most common mistakes homeowners make? Not preparing the siding to be painted. This can lead to cracking, peeling, and an uneven surface.
“Power-wash the siding to get rid of dirt, debris, and flaky paint,” says Amy Davis, vice president of operations at Five Star Painting. Another crucial step is to scrape away any loose paint and prime the surface with the correct primer, she says.
“You also need to repair a damaged surface. If wood rot has occurred, you would need to replace the wood, instead of simply painting over it,” she says.
Electrical wiring or rewiring
Time added for a mistake: 6.9 hours
Cost added for a mistake: $255
While there are probably some electrical projects you can handle, the risk of mistake or injury is high, so it's best to leave most wiring or rewiring work to the pros.
“Between the advice they get from the clerk at the hardware store and the individual on the YouTube video, some DIYers believe that electrical work is easy,” says Mark Luongo, owner and project manager at Luongo Electric. “But when it comes to electrical, the few dollars you saved by doing it yourself can very likely lead to a fire in your home—or electrocution.”
Quite apart from the physical risks, he says performing electrical work without proper permits and inspections can jeopardize your insurance coverage; some companies will not cover work done by an unlicensed person.
“When you hire a licensed electrical contractor, we are accepting responsibility for your home and the work we are doing,” Luongo says. “If there is ever an issue, we are liable and responsible.”
Flickering lights, blown fuses, and tripped circuit breakers are some of the signs that you may have done something wrong.
Time added for a mistake: 5.6 hours
Cost added for a mistake: $106
Creating the perfect yard isn’t as easy as it might look, especially when you move beyond simple tasks like mowing the lawn. Installing hardscapes and stonework can be particularly challenging, because you need to have a well-packed foundation with proper drainage.
“Soil can shift and crumble over time, and if the base isn’t done properly, you will experience movement and other issues down the road,” says Brad Unruh, director of new product development for Hustler Turf Equipment.
Time added for a mistake: 3.0 hours
Cost added for a mistake: $58
Tiling is time-intensive, so if you make a mistake like using the wrong adhesive, having too few tiles, or not applying a sealant, you can add hours to your project.
According to Curt V. Rapp, founder and CEO of Tile Doctor in Marietta, GA, the right grout makes all the difference.
“While grout often takes a backseat to the tiles themselves, it’s actually a pretty important component,” he says. Grout should be spread evenly and finished in smaller sections, so that it doesn't dry out before you finish. Rapp also recommends using epoxy grout in bathrooms, kitchens, and other wet or damp areas.
But grout isn’t the only potential problem. According to Michael McDermott, COO at CRD Design Build in Seattle, quality work is another issue.
“Let’s face it, you probably aren’t going to be as good at tiling as the professional who has spent most of their working life slinging grout,” he says.
But to try to keep your project looking as pristine as possible, use the right size of trowel and a level, to make sure the tile is completely straight. And don’t forget to purchase extra tiles in case you inadvertently crack some of them.