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Do’s and Don’ts for DIY-ers!

Canadian celebrity designer, Jane Lockhart offers her insights on home reno do’s and don’ts for DIYers.

Home makeover TV shows make it look like complicated, home projects can be completed in an hour episode. Yes, I accept that I’m partly to blame for that (but who wants to watch paint dry?) yet, do-it-yourself projects are as popular as ever. As a pro, there are certain projects I won’t even start without the right tools. So, I’ve put my top five list together for you to use as a guide to save your home … from you!

Prepare your Subfloors

I commend all of you who have the courage to install hardwood floors on your own. Give yourself a pat on the back.

An important step in your prep before installing your hardwood floors is to prepare your subfloors. First, do some research, there are some subfloors that may not be compatible with your choice of hardwood flooring. Make certain that your subfloors are flat, dry and clean.

Your finished floors may become susceptible to squeaking caused by glued-down floors that loosen over time, or an unstable floating floor. Trust me, that is not something that any home owner wants! Remember, the goal is to not have to redo your work. In the end, this will save you time and money.


The only tool you need for electrical work is a phone. This one should certainly go without saying, but for the safety of all the do-it-yourself-ers, electrical work should only be done by a certified electrician. Call one.


After electrical work, plumbing is another task that non-professionals should avoid. A misdiagnosis can lead to further damage, which means more money out of your pocket. Although you may think you’ve temporarily solved your plumbing woes that solution may lead to further problems. Pick up the phone.


With the proliferation of You Tube and its many helpful videos, it’s easy to think that you can accomplish anything. But if you want to take on a large scale project a permit is a must. It would be a shame to invest all your blood, sweat and tears into your home improvement project only to have it fail inspection; do your research, get references and hire a licensed contractor.


Painting is simple, right? You’re not afraid to take that project on, it’s just paint. But using painter’s tape is a must! The most common reason people stay away from the green adhesive is the time it takes to meticulously tape the area. Lining your baseboards, windows and ceiling with tape may feel like an eternity, but the finish will be worth it.

If you want to save money by painting your home yourself, be sure to take the steps of a professional to ensure both straight lines and a clean finish.

My goal here is not to scare you away from taking on future home improvement projects, just to know when to hire a pro. We take on projects from creating the detailed architectural drawings to obtain permits, through to the finishing touches, so I’ve “corrected” my share of homes where mistakes could have been avoided.

Do the research, have the right tools for the job and know when to hire the right people.


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