When Renovation Goes Wrong: 4 Homeowners Share Their Real-Life Fails


renovation failsIf you’re a homeowner, chances are you’ve taken on a home-repair project that you probably shouldn’t have.

Whether the results were disastrous, costly or comical, we can all relate to the desire to do-it-yourself instead of calling a pro. After all, that will likely save you a bundle of cash. However, ask a pro and he or she will invariably tell you that it’s best to reserve home repairs to them.

“I always say ‘do what you know how to do competently and safely’ and leave the rest for a professional,” says Sean Murphy, a D.I.Y. specialist at Build.com. “While these D.I.Y. disasters may make for riveting dinner conversation, avoiding them altogether will save you time, money and headaches in the long run.” Here, meet four people who went it alone, with less-than-stellar results, and then read on to hear what the experts say they might have done differently.

Their heartbreak just might save you big the next time you decide to whip out the toolbox.

When Toddlers Attack …

The Homeowner: Patrick Morris, 51
Troy, New York

The Situation: “I had just bought my house, and my then wife was painting rooms,” explains Morris, a public relations manager who has since divorced. “At one point, she went downstairs for something and came back to find that our two-year-old had used the paint roller as a push toy throughout the hardwood floors upstairs. There was light blue paint all over the floor in each room.”

What Went (Really) Wrong: ”My then wife proceeded to use Zip Strip to try to remove the paint, which further wrecked the floors,” he says. “I went to Home Depot to get a floor sander, sand paper, polyurethane finish, etc. Five minutes into sanding, I realized what a huge mistake it was to undertake the whole thing. There was wood dust everywhere, the sanding was difficult, uneven and a total mess, and the rental and purchase of everything was over $300. And, since we couldn’t get flooring guys to show up to give us an estimate on the cost to refinish the floors, we went to Sears and arranged to have wall-to-wall carpeting installed to the tune of $3,000. The whole thing cost us $6,000!”

What the Expert Says: “When you’re painting walls, especially with children in the home, you should always be using a low VOC water-based paint on the walls,” says Amy Matthews, a HomeAdvisor home improvement expert. “It’s the healthiest choice for your family, and when wet, it can be removed from most surfaces with soap and water. Always be wary of using harsh chemicals to clean up any mishap, and never rush for a solution to a home improvement mistake. Take time finding a pro to solve the issue for the right price at the right time. There is no crime in having a patch of temporarily damaged wood floor, but it is a crime to lay carpet over it!”

RELATED: Buying a House: How Much Can You Afford?

  • tyrebitre

    MORAL: If you or your significant other are idiots, can’t controll your children, or have no mechanical aptitude : don’t even attempt DIY stuff. Bite the bullet and pay someone who isn’t an idiot, has the skills, and won’t be bringing kids with them.

    As for the painting: that is one skill which is so rare as to be exclusive. Anyone can smear paint but virtually NO ONE can paint well or correctly. It a difficult and time consuming chore, with the finish dependent entirely on the prep, care, and skill of the painter. A poor painter ( read: damn near everyone ) can literally destroy a house in a few hours with a roller and can of paint: destroy it to the point that it isn’t economically feasible to fix it correctly.