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From Our Blog

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What Not To Do Yourself Before Selling Your House

It’s not all that uncommon. You tried to fix something in your house using all the analytic skills you apply to other parts of your life, inspired by how easy it looks on HGTV. With all the best of intentions, however, what seemed simple turned into an obviously less-than-expert job. In fact, even your Realtor noticed it when telling you what to do when getting your house ready to sell.
 
Realtor.com’s Audrey Ference, in her article The Worst Mistakes You Can Make Before Selling Your Home offers us wisdom on why doing some things yourself is not always about saving money and could, in fact, cause you even more cash outlay and possibly a lawsuit when selling your home. Even National Association of Homebuilders’ remodeling chairman Dan Bawden chimes in, saying, “You have to ask yourself: Is it likely to do more harm than good?”
 
Here are some tasks recommended better left to a professional:
  • If your house just needs a fresh coat of paint, don’t sweat it. Get to a paint store and buy the paint, some brushes, a few rollers and some drop cloths. But if you have cracks in the drywall from a shifting foundation or a evidence of family members taking out frustrations on a wall, hire a pro. Texturing is a bugger and if you don’t get it right, it will look like a bad Bondo job on a car door. In other words, the cure will have been worse than the illness. Call a drywall repair person. Then use that paint.
  • Even professional contractors who have been in business for years don’t mess with anything inside a heating or cooling system, according to Bawden. These systems are complex and are often connected to both electrical and gas. You could blow out the entire system by doing it wrong, creating a much more expensive repair than if you had never touched it. Besides, any potential buyers of your home would most likely hire an inspector to go over the HVAC system and your goose will be cooked. According to Bawden, even something as simple as installing a smart thermostat can fry your wiring if done incorrectly.
  • It’s not like installing a fridge, a washer or a dryer when it comes to putting in a dishwasher. Installing it yourself is complicated, involving installing water and drainage lines under the kitchen sink cabinet or changing out existing ones. Doing it wrong could mean flooding your kitchen, ruining your floors, and getting a homeowner’s claim rejected because it’s obvious it was done wrong. Appliance stores offer installation at reasonable prices when buying new, and a plumber may charge around units, or a plumber can handle it for $150 to $500 — well worth the investment.
  • It may look easy, but it isn’t. “Popping” a new window into an old window opening is fraught with bad omens, according to Bawden. Water can seep into the walls if you don’t reseal the layers properly and it may not be discovered for a few years down the road, when mold becomes a creature instead of a word. Lawsuits get steam not only because of this along with trying to apply siding on your own — both of which deal with keeping moisture out of the walls of your house. Facing an extremely upset homeowner who can produce medical bills related to a mold issue would not be a pretty picture.
  • If it’s electrical and it’s more than just putting in wiring for a light fixture, draw the line at any electrical work involving the breaker box. “Not only could you hurt yourself, you could also create a fire hazard, especially if your home isn’t brand-new,” says Ference, who goes on to quote a handyman who talks about how older homes lack safety devices like GFIs (ground fault circuit interrupters). Running new wires or repairing faulty wiring should be left to a professional.
  • There’s a song from the ‘60s called Up on the Roof, but it shouldn’t be sung by you if you’re thinking about doing anything more than hammering down a shingle or two or replacing chimney pipe roof flashing. Even professional roofers wear harnesses in case of falls so they can keep singing ‘60s songs. 
  • Lastly, we can’t tell you not to fix a running toilet or snake a drain. People do it every day. But when it comes to taking apart leaky or blocked pipes under a sink, you should run in the other direction. Pipes can be tricky to reassemble, particularly when they’re in close proximity to other plumbing components and machinery, such as dishwashers or garbage disposals, according to the article. What might look like an easy fix could actually be a symptom of a larger issue with your system. Even HGTV hosts discover things like this as they rehab what looks to be the worst home on the best street in town.
 
Source: Realtor.com, NAHB, TBWS
 

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