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January 22, 2010

What you've done when it comes to DIY

A number of home-improvement and maintenance tasks are potentially do-it-yourself jobs. But Wonk reader Lori says she speaks from experience in saying that potentially and actually do-it-yourself-able are two different things.

"The ease of MANY DIY jobs is completely dependent not on whether the job is easy to do in a perfect world, but rather whether one is inheriting a Rube Goldberg mess of mediocre construction and dubious code adherence," she wrote in a comment on this week's DIY post.

Here's an example she gave: "Wallpaper removal can ONLY be done by oneself if the (drooling morons) who put the wallpaper up were intelligent enough to use SIZING on the walls. We have a rental property that has wallpaper on the walls and ceilings (!!!), and because of the manner in which it was put up, professionals don't even think it's worth the trouble to pull it. We have had 2 different contractors recommend putting new drywall over it rather than dealing with the fact that pulling the wallpaper is going to tear up the drywall."

(Don't know what sizing is? Here's a explanation from Ask the Builder.)

The DIY discussion you've been having here is so interesting I wanted to shine a light on it for readers who don't make a point of reading the comments. A few more nuggets:

Brian figures he spent about $2,000 and a lot of time doing "a ton of small jobs" around the house he just sold -- "painting every room, rebuilding and painting my deck, painting my garage, putting a bunch a junk on CL for free (it's amazing how fast a pile of scrap wood goes on CL), planted about 8 dozen flowers, etc."

He wishes other sellers had done the same.

"I've been in the market for a new home for a few months and can tell you there aren't many homeowners who do these type of repairs and maintenance," he wrote. "With the market so saturated, these things make a big difference (to me at least). I'll walk out of a completely wallpapered house in a heartbeat unless the place is a steal."

M shared a DIY tale that made me grin: "We recently painted our entire downstairs living area, which included a living room, dining room and kitchen. We painted the ceiling, walls and baseboards and it took us two days this past weekend. I got a contractor who was doing work on a neighbor’s house to give me an estimate and he ball parked it at $1400. We did it for a little over $300 and under 2 days of work. It wasn't worth it while we were doing the work, but after it was a great idea."

Pete offered a useful warning to newbie DIY-ers: "Paint removal should come with a BIG caveat if the house was constructed before 1978." (It wasn't until then that lead paint was banned.)

And avalon, moved by Lori's tale of woe, suggested a "a very inexpensive 'secret weapon'" in the fight to remove wallpaper: liquid fabric softener.

"It took me 8 hours do do one wall with the aid of a store-bought product and a rented steamer," avalon wrote. "I went online and found out about fabric softener and was able to do the rest of the room in under an hour - and it smelled nice afterward! I scored the wallpaper and then sprayed it to saturation with a solution of about 70% water to 30% fabric softener. The walls practically stripped themselves. WHO KNEW?!"

What's the best DIY project you've ever done? The worst?

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 7:00 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Home maintenance
        

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About Jamie Smith Hopkins
Jamie Smith Hopkins, a Baltimore Sun reporter since 1999, writes about the regional economy. Her reporting on the housing market has won national and local awards. Hopkins is a Columbia native and has lived in Maryland all her life, save for 10 months spent covering schools in Ames, Iowa.
She trained to become a wonk by spending large chunks of time as a geek and an insufferable know-it-all.
Baltimore Sun articles by Jamie
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