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Old 10-24-2006, 12:15 PM   #1
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Diy Frustrations


Hi guys,

I'm a final year product design student researching the subject of DIY.
I would be really interested in hearing about frustrations you have relating to DIY.

By thinking back to a recent DIY project was there a particular task that you found difficult, annoying, time consuming or dangerous?

What was the task and what specifically made the task such a problem?
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Old 10-24-2006, 12:59 PM   #2
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I will think my most frsutrating experience for my basement renovation so far is the plumbing, specifically when you try to repair a leak which requires you to cut a portion of pipe out and replace a new portion together with two couples. the problem are there is a "stop" in the couples available in the big store like home depot. which stop you from slipping the couple all the way back or sliding the couple around the pipes...etc. couples without stop only available from special vendor in the internet which is a hassle to order when you need them... even special plumbing store do not carry them (well may be they have some at some size of the pipes) but not all.... I don't know why they need to put the stop, without stop it is so much easier to use for all applications...

another frustrations are with metal studs, I don't know why they allow to be used at all, don't see any advantageous of it over wood, they are more expensive, not strong, more difficult to put screws in, can cut your hand easier...... metal plate on the other hand is perfect.... don't know why there is no where to said in the internet to use metal plates but wood studs...

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Old 10-24-2006, 02:43 PM   #3
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I would have to say, over the years, the hardest skill to get right has been mudding drywall. Not repairs mind you, but taping and mudding joints on large projects. Even with lots of reading, and advice from those more experienced than me I had times when I nearly threw the trowel. I think, after about 7 or 8 large projects, one a 450 sq/ft basement (walls and ceiling) and including a couple of large rooms in a house that I flipped, I have gotten to the point where my joints look pretty good. I usually have to do four passes to get them that way but none the less they are, I think, above average. Finally!
Number two frustration I would have to agree is sweating copper pipes and general plumbing reapirs...drains I think I have a handle on but with water lines I have had my share of quasi-disasters. There have been some plumbing problems that have really baffled me....I follow guidlines and do things the way they should be done and still find my self dealing with small leaks....usually the problems get rectified but only after struggling with them for what seems like hours.
Hope that helps
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Old 10-24-2006, 02:58 PM   #4
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Now, Dougrus, you scare me about the mud job as I haven't done that yet.... and will...
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Old 10-24-2006, 03:27 PM   #5
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Sorry man. Dont mean to freak you out... It really comes down to patience...You have to really be kind to yourself and let the skill develop...To make you feel a little more at ease, it isnt really hard to get joints that look ok, but it is very hard to get a truly professional, near invisable joint.
It really is an art when you a see a guy who really knows what they are doing....My grandpa was a drywaller and in the years before he died, unfortunately I was just getting into DIY. He was like an artist with that trowel....smooooth. Like it was an extension of his hand...it does really help to watch a pro..........once before a big project I did in a house I remodeled, I was getting a sandwich at Subway and they were drywalling the place next door for the new Starbucks...I asked the guy If I could come in and watch... They were mudding these big ten foot sheets...I think I learned more in that 30 min than in untold hours of making mistakes on my own....
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Old 10-24-2006, 05:19 PM   #6
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Don't mean to hijack here...but Kui, if you have to use copper instead of pex which is foolproof, doesn't leak and is easy to fix if it ever did, the stop in the couplings I am familiar with is just a pressed 'dot' on the inside, it seems to me that you could run a chainsaw file in there and get rid of it. The reason it's there of course is so that the coupling winds up centered on the joint, though if you were to remove it you might want to leave the joint slightly staggered so that the 'dot' winds up getting soldered too. Just a thought...
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Old 10-24-2006, 06:27 PM   #7
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Back on topic: The frustrations I have with DIY from the other side of the fence are people who know just enough to make my job really difficult when they finally call me. Like people using construction adhesive on trim.
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Old 10-24-2006, 08:59 PM   #8
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The most frustrating thing I have run into is finding things that were not done right the first time ya know walls that are not square,pipes run in the wrong place so the the cold just snaps them like twigs,etc....I really hate going behind other peoples work to fix what should have been done right the first time.I guess thats why building codes have gotten a lot stricter around here

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Old 10-25-2006, 04:32 AM   #9
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Well I can get into all sorts of trouble without much effort, but there are a few things I've run into and seem to keep running into:

- #1, no question this drives me completely insane, lumber is never what they call it. A 2X4" isn't 2X4" (whose bright idea was that?) and even if you learn that one, the same ratio doesn't apply to a 1X6" or 2X10" or anything else. I can't for the life of me figure out why this system has stayed the way it is especially here in Canada where we are supposed to be metric and that would sure be easier to calculate for us non carpenters who don't have the secret decoder ring to sort it all.

- things that seem to make sense until you find out they don't. eg. you don't use duct tape on ducts...it's like there is a secret society controlling a lot of this stuff who love to stand back and say 'fool, you didn't know what you were doing nyuck, nyuck, nyuck' instead of just calling things what they are.

- in the same vain, how things are labelled. I was looking for a cutting wheel for my rotary tool tonight. Do they say on the package if it's for metal or wood? No. There are 3 or 4 different wheels though. Does the guy working there know which one is for metal? No. So I have to come home, fire up the Internet, go to the company site and find out the number of the stupid wheel that will cut metal. These things are packaged, there is print on the package, but apparently it hasn't dawned on anyone to say what the wheels cut. (side note frustration: store staff who don't have a clue)

- finding instructions/how-to is often based on the theory that everything is and will be, normal. There is often nothing available to help when you aren't starting from level/square; there isn't a ground wire so now what?; the idiot that did it before screwed up and the pipe is in a different spot, problem or not?

- getting into a job and realizing there are no instructions for some small part of it. The best example I can think of there is when I recently added quarter round to a room that had never had it before (nor had any other part of the house so I had no example to look at). Well my compound miter saw and I were hard at it until I hit the end of the wall by the closet. They tell you how to do corners of all descriptions, but no where could I find out what the end piece should be cut like. The piece that does not join another piece, that just ends where the wall ends because of a door or some such thing. Same thing with some shower wall tiling I want to do. I bought a magazine because it had step by step instructions figuring it would help since it had nice clear photos etc. For some reason they started midpoint and left the row along the top of the tub for last. They don't explain, they don't say what to do about a tub like mine that is not level and has a slope back to front, they don't say if that first row is a full tile or a partial or anything else about it. So, useless because they forgot the detail. Also, no picture of the tile on that row completed so you just can't figure out what they did at all and guess who needs to find instructions still and wasted her money on that mag?

- TV shows and such that encourage people to do stupid things like paint wallpaper or anything else that is just horrible to deal with later. They seem to show nice quick fixes without a mention of by the way, you just really ruined your walls and will slit your wrists if you ever want to change it.

- finally, they rarely stress the scale of skill and frustration of a job. I love books/shows that give you a good idea of things like easy but frustration level 10; intermediate skill with frustration 4 out of 10; call a professional, do not mess with this. It would be so nice to know (before I start) that this one needs a professional. The other thing they don't always mention is how long a particular job might take. It's frustrating to have the impression something can be done in a morning and then discover you lost a whole week. Unfortunately, it's not very easy to find any of these types of ratings for things so you can go in with realistic expectations.
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Old 10-25-2006, 10:31 PM   #10
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By far the biggest frustration I have is moving material. If your doing a big project then I can have stuff delivered, but if you don't want to wait, or only need a sheet or two of plywood, then if can be a pain. I used to be able to carry 4x8 plywood in my subaru station wagon (blocked up above the wheel wells) but now I have a sedan. It turns out that 4' wide sheets don't fit in my dad's Honda CRV which was a real pain when I helped redo their kitchen floor. I had to strap the sheets up top, which I really didn't like. Before that I did a deck/wheelchair ramp at my grandparents. I got the deck boards delivered, but I wanted to start before they could schedule delivery, so I picked up all the framing material. Despite taking three trips, all that PT lumber left my dad's vehicle rather overloaded.

Another issue is that I frequently end up working alone and never have a second pair of hands to help move/hold something. I actually dislike this on a purely saftey stance, but, espically being single, I see no way around it.
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Old 10-25-2006, 10:33 PM   #11
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On the flip side as the guys/company that comes in to do new type jobs in a previously owned DIY house OR coming in to finish a DIY project that either ran out of time and/or ambietion.

Many times these books are misleading. A typical HO walks into home deopt wanting to retile a bathroom, frame in for a new tub, build a porch, build a deck, etc...so they go straight for the self help books. These things should be burned and so should these ridiculious TV shows. The biggest thing is, many DIY projects go undetected by code enforcement...which means if you follow the book or TV show, depending on your location, many times what these books say to do-is not upto local building code. This means 1. when you go to sell your home often a big update cannot be included as an appreciation point-that new bathroom you added downstairs will not be allowed to net you any money-it's like it is not there since nobody knows if it's upto code and could need completely tore out, that brand new kitchen you just installed yourself and save $10K on-wont count either, so you just lost all of that money you invested into your property. and 2. They can flat out refuse to allow you to leaglly close your home deal due to projects done without a permit being pulled and signed. I've seen this happen and only course to pacify the city was to literally tear out the projects that were done, or we've been involved with tearing out projects to a certain point so the city inspectors can come in and varify aspects of what's going on with framing, electrical, plumbing, etc...then put it back together again-I've seen complete garages being disassembled, basment bathrooms being torn out, lower bedrooms with no egress causing the home get red tagged and occupants being eveicted from there home by the city until an egress is installed...the list goes on and on. most get by with no problems, but those are a few things that can happen, and I can attest to thme first hand since I've seen it, and been called in to make it right.

Reasoning for strict code enforcement-insurance companies grew tired of typical 9am-5pm factory worker frank thinking he was a carpenter by trade from 6pm-9pm..or the weekend carpenter. People were getting hurt from shoody construction practices and things falling apart, homes were burning down from faulty eletrical work, homes with extreme water/sewage damage from wrong plumbing practices. So the insurance industry has been a driving force to push cities to really crack down on doing things arond the home since it's a long term structure that could be occupied by many families over the years it will stand-not to mention the insurance companies will investigate major damage and if it was found it was something you did that caused it and no permits were issues (the typical DIY project way of life) they can refuse to cover you. So again, all that money you saved doing it yourself....you just lost all that invested money and now are out everything and must pay oout of pocket again, only for an entire project...seen this happen more than once to fire damage.

There are too many folks out there that think this is easy, that is easy, or my favorite lines are my grandpa was a carpenter and he did it like this, or my buddies uncle is in construction and he says to do it this way. Many times these "people and their skills" are entities of imagination, or their "buddy" is no better than the typical hack. Just because so and so did it this way, does not make it right. And so and so's grandpa was the reasoning why codes have been changed since long term proved that is not a viable way to solve a problem/build a project-hence the new methods and new codes all in place thanks to learning from the past.

I have nothing against DIY'ers, I just have a big problem with things not being done correctly/safely since it effects people lives young and old. The other thing to remember is when you get to a point in a project and realize your in over your head...dont be alarmed since it's going to cost double of original price the contractor quoted since 9 out of 10 times the thing will need completely torn out and redone to meet code since our name is now on the project and it must be done right. Like Mr. Goodwrench says: "You can pay me now, or you can pay me later"

Get all the facts before tackling a project to be sure your not costing yourself more money in the end, than by just hiring it out. Nothing in life is free-no matter how cheap the inital savings look upfront-at some point the piper will get paid
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Old 10-26-2006, 08:13 AM   #12
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Diy Frustrations


The answer for DIYers to above message is to apply 'permit' for all the projects even you don't think it need to, check with the department....

my experience to that is, most of the things I did is right, but there is indeed a fews are wrong and got pointed out by the code people... and code people also help your initial planning stage to correct your initial plan which violate the code...etc...


the problem of above message is far and beyond to DIYers,, in fact, there are a lot of contractors in the street, do things not to the code and they don't want you to apply for permit, as it will make them work harder and cost them more in materials sometime.... or they don't know the trade to make it code compilance and many of them start the job like DIYers knowing nothing ...etc.... but their charges generally much lower than well known license contractors.... so is very attractive to HO...
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Old 10-26-2006, 08:59 AM   #13
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[quote=KUI****G;21902]the problem of above message is far and beyond to DIYers,, in fact, there are a lot of contractors in the street, do things not to the code and they don't want you to apply for permit, as it will make them work harder and cost them more in materials sometime.... or they don't know the trade to make it code compilance and many of them start the job like DIYers knowing nothing ...etc.... but their charges generally much lower than well known license contractors.... so is very attractive to HO...[/quote]

Great post and I want to play off of it too.

In this day and age, even to contractors like myself that do the job upto code, there are still little things that fall through the cracks-and I blame this on the building departments. One thing I have seen over the years is that no matter what the city you can build a project 10 different ways, some places it will pass-others will not. AND each inspector for a given area also interprets codes differently so that also leads to confusion-even amoung us contractors since one day we have to build like this...and somtimes later in the afternoon when a different inspector comes out to check off on a phase, they will say, "no you have to do it like this" so there is alot of confusion even cmoung us professionals that do this for a living. But either way you must contact your building department, get the facts before you start a project. You've done the research in the books and online about how to do something, now let the local authorities give you the "fine tuning" of how they want it done...it's for your and your families own good, and possibly families down the road as well.

The biggest thing amoung typical residential contrators like myself, is customer's not being educated about how a job needs to be done, and realistic budgets to accomplish their goals for both material costs and labor costs. Everybody nowadays has a "wal-mart" mentality-meaning, so long as it's cheapest, I'll go with that...even if it's not a long term solution-it will pacify me for now. Example-windows: everytime I go to a customers home to bid my windows, I get the "boy, that's alot higher than what I can get them for at Menards/Home Depot/Lowes/etc..." quality costs money and that is like comparing a yugo to a bentley. Most of us that care about what we do, also care about ouor customers and the long term-I quit installing junk since the junk product will fail/not work as one thought it would..and peoples first reaction is to get mad at the general contractor, even though he/I more than likely tried to steer you away from the cheapest junk on the market for your benefit.

An honest contractor has to pay alot of things-more than just your job materials and immediate labor on your job site. No matter if the crew is large, or a 2 man; a legitamite crew/company has expenses that are literally figured into everyjob as a whole. Things such as vehicle fuel, insurance, registration, maintenance, business insurance, tool insurance, workmans comp, business phone, cell phone, tool expenses, lawyer fees, accountant fees, marketing fees, and of course wages for all on the crew. A typical hack/lowballer/family handyman does not have to worry about these things, so overhead is low and thus job pricing is so cut throat even a smallbusiness like mine has to wonder how they can do it. BUT, one thing to keep in mind if something eveer did happen, who's responsible? Say that new deck you had built by hank handyman for less than half of a legit contractor falls and hurts the people standing on it-or kills them (I use this example because you'd be suprised how many decks maim and kill people a year from faulty construction) the hack has no insurance, probably offered a cheaper yet cash price folks took him up on, so all liablity falls back on the homeowner. Now your the one getting sued and paying hospital bills/pain and suffering allotments, etc...while handyman hank is off building another disaster.

Point being, having a legit company will naturally cost more money than having a buddy do it. The nice thing is if the contractor you contacted is good-your project will be legit with no worries when your done. Finding a contractor is hard, you can talk to freinds to see who is doing work for them, then ask that contractor for copies of his insurances to be sure that's in place, call the city to be sure he's registered with them. The Better Business Buearu is a joke, I pulled out years ago for the simple reason-we as businesses are paying to keep that entity alive, do you honestly think they are going to bad mouth a business and lose their annual dues?-I've checked on several local hacks that advertise they are members of the BBB, and all that was told to me was -"they have the typical amount of inquires for this type of work" nothing more was told, so right then I knew it was a waste of money-not to mention all our customers are repeats and freinds of freinds, so we do not need to advertise to stay in business-our work/work ethic is our advertisment, so again, dont think a ceretain crew is not legit just because they are not in the yellow pages. For '07 I'm pulling all our ads from the yellow book since they generate nothing but tire kicking customers looking for the cheapest price-not quality work, which naturally costs more.

In the end, I feel most DIY'ers pain-they have strict budgets with basically set incomes and just want something better than they have. Trying to find a good contractor is tough, lord knows there are alot of bad ones out there, and once a cusotmer has been spoked by one, it's hard for guys like myself to get in there and show them otherwise-but once I'm done I have a customer for life-just as you will when you find that crew you can trust. Be completely honest with your contractor when it comes to your project, give him an accurate window for a budget since this will help him find a better solution to achieve your goals. Many times customers think I ask that question to out and out get every penny-it does'nt work that way. I needto to know what your realistic budget is so I can get you the most bang for the buck, if we have to cut back on this in order to get that...having a budget allows that freedom of pick and choose that I can present to you later as options with the pro's and con's.
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Old 10-26-2006, 10:50 AM   #14
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Diy Frustrations


I agree with all of you for the most part but their are some DYIers (I will include myself in here) that are doing things properly as a matter of fact some like me over do it.I am doing a whole house renovation (my own)I have checked what the codes are for my area and for home improvements or renovations their aren't many unless it structural or electrical so I checked other counties close by some have much stricter codes then we do.As I have gotten into projects I have gone well beyond what all the codes for exsisting or new construction are in and around here.I also research each project throughly with local retired contractors and ones still in the buss ( surprising how helpfull they are I guess they dont really want to come behind me to fix it) I also get on sites like this and ask for the info I need no matter how stupid I sound and if I believe I am going to be in over my head I call someone in who is suppose to be a professional.I say the last part because this addition to this house that I bought just six months ago was suppose to have been built by a professionally contractor with a very good reputation.So far I have had to replace all the windows he put in and even had to re frame two whole outside wall ( they were falling apart as you touched them -still cant figure out what kept the walls up) So I guess my point is that even though some of you may be contractors and thats your way of making a living some of us DYIers are doing it because we want to or we just want to kind of leave our make on the house and we are doing it to or above codes
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Old 10-26-2006, 01:01 PM   #15
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clasact: I understand your point 100%, and I did'nt post here to act like I'm speaking from a high horse. My main reasoning was to educate the "typical" DIY'er as to what "could" happen since in all my years I've run into almost every situation imaginable since this is what we do day in and day out. The worst part is I see it from both the DIY folks botching projects as well as "contractors" that are supposed to know what they are doing. As bad as it sounds I can literally name 1 bad seed contractor for every one good one, this does'nt sound too reassuring but I dont candy coat for sake of making things sound good-this is reality.

You sound like i do, over build a project so there is no questions later. Building code is IMO the bare minimum you need, so we typically go beyond that level for my own piece of mind and a project that should last for years and years-they way it's supposed to be IMO. As far as your current house being goofy-I can also relate. I bought the home I grew up in that was built in 1980...after gutting exterior to redo to me specs as well as gutting interior rooms I've gotten to, it's obvious the guy that built this entire sub division was in it for the money (read speedy builds and quick sales) rather than a quality home...some of the homes original exterior sheeting was missing a 1/3 of the piece that they just floated over with the siding-serious. Electrical boxes falling out of the ceiling where lights are hung, foundation cracking due to pizz poor tiling, and the neighbor next door we actually had to knock out his entire basement wall and reblock it since it was caving in-not to mention main steel girder spanning the basement was not properly set on steel shims...but peices of wood which is a big no-no.

I'm a tru e believer of never learning anything from a book-it takes a hands on approach. The unfortunate side of that is many folks dig right in, compromise because doing it this way costs more money than they expected so they skip over a step and move on. A rule of thumb which works in about every facet building things from race cars to home, figure what you think it will cost....then add 30%. This is a funny yet scarey reality.

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