Edit ModuleShow Tags

Paging Dr. House

Before you attempt surgery on your home, assess your aptitude

I’m on a drive with my business partner discussing home renovations, and she says, “You don’t want to start a renovation project unless you know what you are doing because you don’t want to ruin your shit.” 

No truer story, folks. 

Your house is not a craft project. You’re not hand-making moccasins here; it sucks if your homemade shoes don’t keep water at bay, but it more than sucks if your newly replaced window casings leak. 

Know your skill level

In a pinch, would you perform surgery on your child? If you are a doctor, maybe you would. Would you trim your kid’s fingernails even though you could take him to a manicurist? Probably do it yourself, right? With home updates, simply match your skill level with your project choices. Don’t knock walls out or remove porches without that level of talent present, whether it’s you, a professional or a capable friend. 

I’ve found I’m more honest about my true abilities when I envision the repercussions of attempting a project that’s out of my league. Imagine structural damage to your home or a big expanse of mud to step onto outside your back door. 

Willingness to learn

If you want to learn the skills to attempt a project, that’s great. My humble suggestion is to intently watch and take notes on at least three YouTube videos from different sources. Then decide if you can safely accomplish the task. I have a buddy who learned to play the violin and sail by watching YouTube. You might be the same type of ever-capable person, but me, well, I’m sure This Old House has plenty of how-to videos, but I’m sadly certain there are not enough videos on the World Wide Web to make me comfortable with retiling my bathroom. 

Can you commit?

I can’t commit, and that’s why I am asking you this. I’ve started so many projects that I just didn’t finish. The day I moved into my house, I took the doors off my kitchen cabinets with the intent to paint them. It’s been five years. Search your heart and check your calendar before you get started.

On hiring a pro

I asked if you would perform surgery on your child, and clearly the answer is no. Some home repairs are invasive and difficult and also shouldn’t be attempted. More people perform surgery on their homes than their children because, yeah, a young life is not on the line, and there typically isn’t jail time for poor home renovations. However, you are potentially marring one of the largest investments you’ve ever made. Sometimes it’s just dumb to do things you need natural skill and years of training to accomplish.