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Top at home-repair blunders to avoid


Last updated 8/12/2021 at 4:04pm

Hiring a skilled professional for some home improvement projects is a better idea than hiring a relative to do it.

FALLBROOK – Home improvement projects should be exciting as they progress, with a positive outcome upon completion. However, some home repairs end up turning into an unorganized mess or a homeowner being taken advantage of by an unscrupulous worker.

By avoiding some common mistakes and taking common-sense precautions, you can end up with renovations that 'wow.'

Do not accept the lowest bid just because it is the cheapest on paper

Smart homeowners shop around for everything – including work done on their home. But accepting the lowest bid right off the bat to save money may cost you more in the long run.

A low bid certainly may be a great deal. But it could be a sign of an inexperienced contractor, or one who plans to use sub-par materials or skimp on the job. Contractors that provide good quality work generally have similar prices. Shop based on experience and recommendations, not price alone.

Check a contractor's license

It is paramount to retain a building contractor that is licensed in the state you wish the work to be done. This provides certain safeguards and recourse to the customer. In the State of California, a contractor's license can be verified by visiting the California Contractors State License Board Web site at The site also offers numerous tips for consumers embarking on a project.

Be cautious about choosing friends or family members to do the work

There certainly are skilled professionals that also may be a close friend or family member. But mixing business and pleasure could be a recipe for trouble, especially when workmanship and an exchange of money are involved.

"We had a friend replace our home's furnace," said one woman. "While we got a great price, we found out later on when there was a glitch in the system that certain things weren't done up to code. We had to spend more money to have it repaired, and the friendship has since suffered."

Some relatives are adamant about doing repairs for family members – but they may not be skilled or know the correct laws governing remodeling. Stick with a third party contractor with whom you'll feel comfortable talking to if you feel repairs need to be done a certain way.

Don't bite off more than you can chew

Think you can handle the remodel yourself? Many do-it-yourselfers (generally in an attempt to save money) believe they can learn every necessary task from a book or YouTube video. There are some jobs, however, that should be left to the professionals, including major plumbing work or electrical repairs. There's no need to risk a fire, injury or death by doing electrical modifications if you are not an expert.

Letting maintenance slide

Many homeowners think once the repair is made that they're all set – failing to keep up with routine maintenance. But complications can arise by not maintaining a new appliance or keeping up with an improvement.

"Our homeowner's association required proof that the dryer venting for our clothes dryer was replaced on an annual basis," said one homeowner. "I'd simply go out and buy a new box of the venting material and submit the receipt as 'proof' so I could save the money on a professional installation. But one day the lint trapped in the venting, which I hadn't bothered to change, caught on fire. It not only damaged the venting, it damaged the entire dryer – resulting in the purchase of a new dryer. Luckily no one was hurt. I've since learned my lesson."

Following every trend

Some home repairs, like electrical ones, are best done by professionals.

Anyone who has a harvest gold or avocado green appliance collecting dust in the garage or basement knows how interior style choices come and go. Instead of jumping on every trend (granite countertops and stainless steel refrigerator, for example), think about what will work for your home and be timeless. Otherwise you may end up having to update every few years.

The hazard of asking questions later

Make a list of every question you can think of and ask it before the work gets started. This way you're left with few surprises and can make changes without costing yourself time and money. Don't wait for the finished product before you start to question the "how's and "why's."

Expect some challenges/changes

If you go into a project with the idea that there will be no challenges, even minor ones, you may end up stressed out when one arises. Everyone makes mistakes – even professionals. If you think something is not being done correctly, speak up or get a second opinion.


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