When Do It Yourself Goes Horribly, Hilariously Wrong

“We’re only human, born to make mistakes”

Great song lyrics – and a DIY truth. When inexperienced humans try to fix it themselves, stuff happens.

That darned “home fix it channel” makes everything look SOOOO easy. “Save money! Improve the value of your home!” The unfortunate reality is that most of these projects are more complicated than they appear and it’s hard to know when you’re in over your head until it’s too late.

Some of the following anecdotes are funny and some are dangerous. All of them should have called for professional help.

“Insulation Insult”

Insulation is supposed to save money in energy costs, right? One gentleman in Minnesota missed the point entirely. He purchased insulation and put it in his attic. When he noticed that he wasn’t saving any more in energy costs, he called the hardware store to complain. It seems that insulation works better when you remove it from the plastic bags it is wrapped in and actually unroll it and lay it out in the attic. Oops.

“But it was so visually appealing!”

Why pay big money for a roofer when you can lay the shingles yourself? How hard can it be? When the job was done, this industrious owner called the Realtor to say that he was now ready to sell and look at all the money he saved. When the Realtor arrived, the response he got was, “Well, now no one will buy your house.” Why? Rather than overlapping the roofing shingles, he laid them out one next to the other, just like a beautiful tiled FLOOR! Oops.

As silly as those examples sound, one does have to be careful though. Doing it your self incorrectly can make an improvement illegal or worse, dangerous.

Case in point: the gentleman who, when building his home addition, used a telescopic post for support. A telescopic post is a temporary structure meant to support a beam when doing a remodel. It is not supposed to be a permanent support of a load bearing wall. Yikes!

Then there was the “quick and easy” toilet replacement. In this DIY gone wrong, the homeowner removed the toilet and noticed that the pipe in the floor was “awfully wiggly,” so she inverted a garbage can over the top of it and called a plumber. Turns out she removed the seal and few other things that she shouldn’t have. Her quick and cheap repair cost her an extra $500 for the plumber to unfix her fix. Ugh!

Finally the danger award goes to the gentleman who decided he needed an extra outlet in the garage. And hey, while he was in there he thought he’d add a room divider… made of corrugated cardboard. Picture if you will, a post with an outlet on it and a wall made out of a sheet of corrugated cardboard. Running from the outlet was a live electrical wire taped to the cardboard, with the ground wire running down a near by plumbing outlet. You can’t make this stuff up!

Bottom line, doing it yourself is probably going to be more work than you think, won’t turn out like you envisioned and it probably will cost more than hiring a professional. Plus, unless you know what you are doing you could be breaking the law, damaging / decreasing the value of your home or even doing something dangerous.