D-I-Y: Do It Yourself (the right way, the first time)

May 3, 2013

By Becca Bertok
Columbia, SC
May 2, 2013

Several years ago, I was hooked on HGTV; the designs, the personalities, the products, the ideas, the endless number of home projects that you can complete in two-days, for $2,000. It’s great, right?!

Well yes, it is, but after almost 10 years in the housing industry, I can say with confidence, Keep it in perspective!

HGTV projects and Do-It-Yourself (DIY) programs are more prevalent than ever with one’s ability to continually learn-on-the-go, thanks to TV on your phone, YouTube©, Pinterest©, blogs, and countless web sites dedicated to discussing the best way to complete a project.  But here’s the thing, when everyone is a DIY-er who has done [that] project before, the voice of the expert becomes lost.  DIY projects are fine, but be realistic.

Here are a few things to keep in mind about DIY home projects (or any, for that matter):

The first thing you should know is that the project will ALWAYS take 2-3 times longer than anticipated.  Your research will prove flawed, setting your start date back for a week or more: Your dog will eat your wedding ring, taking a $350 chunk out of your budget: The freight truck bearing your specially ordered material will break down in Chattanooga, etc. The point is that those two-days/$2,000 shows you see on TV are prepped weeks in advance.  The designers don’t just run out and stumble across the perfect paint, bedroom suite, or tile. There’s a team of people, that you don’t see, working round the 48-hour clock, and there are frustrations, tears, and finally, the joyous end.  Be patient. If you rush, you’re going to mess up, get stressed out, and spend much more money than you originally planned.  It’s just a bathroom, not an Apollo Lunar Mission.

Secondly, verify your DIY research sources. Sure, perhaps you saw Bob’s instructions on how to set the floor of your shower on an internet forum, but it wasn’t Bob Vila or even Bob from your locally owned, HBA-certified tile company, and now you have sunk $2,000 in tile, two weekends’ of time, and two handfuls of hair into a shower floor that is holding more water than Congaree Swamp.  Keep in mind that doing this will cost you another $2,000+ to have it torn out and repaired.  If you’re going to spend the time and money on a DIY job, ask the experts. Ask the people who work in the industry; whose companies support continuing education; folks who will stake their name on giving you information…not a nameless face somewhere on the World Wide Web.  A true professional will take the time to walk you through a DIY project, because he/she is excited that you’re excited and interested, about tackling a project which is his/her passion.

Finally, if you feel like you’re in over your head, you probably are. Don’t waste more time, money, and frustration if you don’t feel confident in the task. Don’t be afraid to hire a professional, even if you’re half way through your project. There’s no harm in asking for help.  But again, before you hire someone, verify your resources: Is the person you wish to hire the member of a professional, industry group? If so, what is their standing in the group?  Is the person willing and eager to show you previous work?  Is the person up-to-date with standard industry practices?

Just as you can go wrong in researching how to do-it-yourself, you can also go wrong in the person you hire. They may all be experienced, but there is a wide gap between experienced and knowledgeable.

HGTV and DIY programs have empowered homeowners to be more in control of home repairs and to be more knowledgeable in dealing with contractors, but as Abraham Lincoln would say, Don’t believe everything you read on the Internet [or see on the TV] just because there’s a picture with a quote next to it.


Becca Bertok in her words

Becca Bertok: Mom, wife, artist, sports car driver…life is never boring!
Mom to a gorgeous and terrifyingly-intelligent, eight-year-old daughter
Small business owner with my husband, Steve Bertok of Panic Motorsports, Inc.: www.panicmotorsports.com
Professional background in Integrated Marketing Communications, Art, and Design
9 ½ years in the stone and tile industry – Currently with Creative Tile: www.creativetilesc.com
30+ years in the Sports Car Club of America, and a former race car driver, thanks to my rally-driving Dad

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