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DIWhy Did You Do This?: Do-It-Yourself Fails
April 12, 2022

DIWhy Did You Do This?: Do-It-Yourself Fails

by The CE Shop Team

When a Home Renovation DIY Project Goes Wrong

As a real estate agent, you've likely come across homes with do-it-yourself renovations that made you think, "Why would anyone ever do this?"

Maybe it was a project that didn't quite go as planned, or perhaps it was a highly personal custom addition that would never appeal to new owners.

In 2020, Americans spent $420 billion on remodeling their homes, the National Association of REALTORS says in a report released this year. Some homeowners choose to hire a professional to complete the project from start to finish, some purchase the materials themselves but hire someone to do the labor, and some take on the entire project themselves.

We asked agents to tell us their best DIY fail stories, some of which you can read below. But first, let’s dive into why people take on renovations themselves and which home projects are most popular.

Why DIY?

A 2019 report from NAR found that 53% percent of people who completed a project on their homes hired a professional to do the project, and 47% did the project themselves. 

“According to the report, homeowners reported a ‘Joy Score’ of 9.9 for projects done themselves (Joy Scores range from 1 and 10, and higher figures indicate greater joy from the project),” NAR says. “That is compared to a score of 9.6 for projects completed by professionals. 

“DIYers also expressed a greater sense of accomplishment with a finished project, with 97% of respondents indicating a major or minor sense of accomplishment, compared to 93% of those who hired a professional.”

Of DIY projects, 77% were interior and 23% were exterior. These were the most common interior DIY projects, the report says:

  • Bathroom Renovation: 26%
  • Kitchen Upgrade: 19%
  • Complete Kitchen Renovation: 9%
  • New Wood Flooring: 7%
  • Basement Conversion to Living Area: 4%
  • New Master Suite: 3%
  • Hardwood Flooring Refinish: 3%
  • Closet Renovation: 3%
  • Insulation Upgrade: 2%
  • HVAC Replacement: 1%
  • Add New Bathroom: 1%
  • Attic Conversion to Living Area: 1%

24% of people’s interior DIY projects fell into “other projects,” such as painting or new floor or carpet.

These were the most common exterior DIY projects, according to the report:

  • Roofing: 35%
  • Vinyl and Wood Windows: 24%
  • Vinyl Siding: 16%
  • Steel and Fiberglass Door: 11%
  • Fiber Cement Siding: 11%
  • Garage Door: 3%

NAR’s report also examined the reasons why DIYers took on a project. The most common reason was to improve functionality or livability (35%), followed by the desire to improve beauty and aesthetics (19%), and ending with the need to add durable and long-lasting materials and appliances (15%). 

Disaster DIY Project Stories

Over the past couple of months, The CE Shop has collected agents’ stories of DIY fails. Below are a few of our favorites.

Laurie Christofano of Oak Park, Illinois

“[I was] showing a home recently, and we were checking out a bathroom inside a bedroom. Just to the right of the toilet was the backside of the fridge — they had cut a hole right through the kitchen wall for it.”


James Byrnes of Elgin, Illinois

“[The] current owner said this was like this when they bought it, and they had an inspection so [they] didn't think it was an issue! Got to have a garage door opener!”


Russell Marrone of Sterling Heights, Michigan

“I was working on a single-handled kitchen faucet without turning off the water. I loosened the handle just a bit, and it let loose. A geyser of water knocked off the handle and shot out of the base. The water was bouncing off the ceiling when I sprinted to the basement to turn off the water. I turned the handle on the main as fast as I could, but not before the water started leaking through the ceiling and onto the basement floor. It took hours to wipe up the water from the kitchen and basement.”

Resources for Further Reading

Are you interested in learning more about home renovations? Whether you’re selling a buyer on a home that needs a new kitchen or advising a seller on pre-market property updates, you’ll want to know your stuff when it comes to returns on home renovations. Check out our blog, The Top 4 Home Renovations That Deliver the Highest ROI, to discover which four remodeling projects pay off. 

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