While DIY home renovations can be a good way to save money in these tough economic times, failing to take proper safety measures or complete the work “to code” can be far more costly in the long term. Many stores such as Home Depot, host classes and sell educational materials on how to complete home renovations without professional contractors. The internet also provides a wealth of information in the form of how-to videos, step-by-step guides and articles. It is worth checking these sources before getting started, to make sure you’re prepared for what’s ahead of you.
The first step to a safe DIY project is to make sure you have the right equipment, depending on what you’ll be doing. Safety glasses for your eyes, a vented mask to protect your lungs from particles, and hearing protection if you’re working with noisy equipment are all well worth the small investment in your safety. Also, never assume that you know how to use a certain piece of equipment, especially band saws or nail guns. Take time to acquaint yourself with the proper use of these items by asking a professional, reading a safety book, or watching an informational video.
Although these safety precautions can go a long way to making DIY projects safe, accidents can still happen. That’s why it is important to read through your insurance policies (both medical insurance and home insurance) and make sure they’re up to date. Knowing what is covered and not covered early on can save you much heartache later.
It is absolutely essential to check with the local building inspectors whether your project will require a permit, and familiarize yourself with the relevant building codes. They will be able to provide guidelines on minimum standards for everything from the thickness of insulation to the strength of concrete. Adhering to these standards will mean that the finished product is safe and comfortable. Cutting corners, whether purposely or through lack of knowledge, can endanger your property and make it harder to claim on your insurance in case of future problems.
Lastly, please do hire professionals to deal with specialized issues. This is especially true for electrical and plumbing problems, as well as older homes at risk for asbestos, lead paint, or arsenic treated wood. These tasks require professional knowledge of health and safety practices, as well as government licenses, and the danger should not be underestimated. Such professionals should also provide their own insurance coverage, so make sure to check with them during the hiring process.
DIY renovations can be very rewarding and satisfying experiences if you take the time to learn, prepare, and work safely. Just make sure that you keep your insurance up to date and have the phone number of a professional handy… Just in case!