Owning several homes has given me many lessons learned from do-it-yourself backyard projects. Given here are some good, bad, and ugly lessons that might help you avoid problems while enjoying the good stuff. Because DIY is very rewarding to a homeowner, these four stories give a good lesson learned first and last, with the bad and ugly in between.
The Good Includes Friends
The first house I owned had a great backyard with a deck that I knew needed replacing when a huge board cracked one day under my feet. Several friends were asked for advice about who might do a good job replacing this or if I could do it myself.
I was very fortunate to have a friend that not only gave good advice but knew construction and offered to help. He was paid for his time and I learned a great deal about deck bracing, angle cuts, and achieved a beautifully completed project. Getting advice or help from knowledgeable friends is a really good thing.
The Bad means Use Caution
My next backyard project was to refinish some wooden chairs. Not much advice was sought here. Sanding and staining should not be a problem. However, I got a splinter in my finger and used some paint remover without gloves during this project.
My hand became swollen like a baseball. After a visit to the doctor, I learned if you do not use caution do it yourself projects will not save you money. The doctor bill can be greater than the cost of just buying a couple of new chairs.
The Ugly Means Hire Someone
At another house I had a deck that needed just the top boards replaced. A contractor offered me a good deal saying that his carpenter would expertly replace new boards cheaply if I would remove the old ones. Problem was, this deck was on a second story and I fell while removing boards. Hospital bills are way more expensive than hiring someone. Listen carefully to this lesson learned.
The Good Includes Family
Getting input and having the family work together on a project is wonderful. We needed a retaining wall to give our slope a better look. My wife and kids helped design and build a wall complete with a flowerbed that we worked on together. Family unity and pride in a beautiful completed backyard project are priceless.