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  • Writer's pictureTeam Pinto

7 DIY Disasters That Will Make a Bad First Impression on Waterloo Region Home Buyers

First impressions matter when touring a home for sale, and we're not just talking about curb appeal. Sellers frequently spruce up their homes before putting them on the market, and some of these home improvements might include DIY maintenance jobs like painting cabinets or replacing hardware.

However, if the project isn't done correctly, buyers will notice the substandard workmanship right away. If the improvements are really bad, some purchasers may lose interest in the property entirely.

Read on to learn about the most common DIY tasks undertaken by Waterloo Region home sellers—and how they may go horribly wrong.

Using Garage Space to Increase Square Footage

Lots of prospective home buyers love extra square footage—unless it feels forced and lacks continuity with the rest of the house. For many buyers, that awkward space could be a dealbreaker.

Transforming a garage into a living space may seem like a good idea, but it means you’re getting rid of, well, the garage. And for most people, that’s valuable storage and parking space. And in this particular situation, the curb appeal of the house may also be compromised because the driveway would now end at a wall instead of a garage door.

If you are considering this kind of project, whether you are selling your home or not, it needs to be carefully planned, designed, and usually executed with the help of professionals. For additional living space to be useful, it needs to be livable, carpeting over a concrete garage floor and replacing the doors with a wall will often not create such space!

Doors That Don't Function Properly

It's common real estate wisdom - and wisdom that is even backed up by statistics - that a beautiful new front door dramatically increases curb appeal.

However, hanging a new front door isn't easy, and if it sticks or a buyer sees that you have to jiggle the handle to get in, it loses its appeal. The same is true for interior doors. If upgraded doors in your home aren’t mounted correctly, they’ll quickly diminish their “wow” factor.

Technically, hanging a door can be a DIY undertaking, but you'll need to ensure that your DIY skills - and knowledge of the right kinds of doors to hand in certain spaces - are excellent, or that you defer to a professional to do the job for you.

Poorly Placed Cabinet Hardware

Another seemingly small DIY update that often has a big impact is replacing old cabinet hardware for updated options. Doing so really can make a positive difference, but again, only if done right.

If your kitchen cabinets are in great shape, but a hardware update is in order, make sure you position the new knobs, pulls, and handles correctly.

You might not think anyone will notice the hardware is backward or upside down, but buyers spot these seemingly minor details fast. This is a big turnoff for buyers who want a turnkey property. Buyers don’t want to fix up someone else’s shoddy work, and the jarring visual effect of wonky hardware won't leave a good impression of the space in general.

Inelegant Crown Moulding

Crown molding is a decorative finish that can add value by framing the room and giving it an elegant appearance—unless it’s not so elegant.

Crown moulding is something that you can find easily at home stores or even online. But whatever the instructions claim, installing crown moulding and other trim is not easy. Miscalculate by a few centimetres, or leave glue or nails showing and what should have been a wonderful way to enhance the space can quickly become an eyesore that will horrify would be home buyers, even if the rest of the space looks great.

Painting Over, Rather Than Fixing Imperfections

When it comes to prepping a property for sale, painting is one of the most popular DIY jobs. If done correctly, it's relatively inexpensive and instantly refreshes a room.

A fresh layer of paint applied to incorrectly prepared surfaces will not hide flaws such as cracks, gaps, or chipped paint. If you didn't prepare the walls before painting, these flaws will show straight through the new color, defeating the aim of impressing buyers with freshly painted rooms.

New Vanity But Old Faucets

If you head to a home store, you'll often find 'easy' to fit vanities for bathrooms that, in theory, will help quickly upgrade an older bathroom space.

Much of this is quite true. An updated bathroom is a major plus for homebuyers. A new vanity can instantly change the aesthetics of the space from old and grungy to fresh and new—unless you went only halfsies on the job.

Replacing a faucet is a far more complex DIY job than adding a new vanity, and for that reason, some homebuyers skip doing so, with disastrous results. The fact is that a new vanity with an old faucet makes no sense at all.

For starters, you can purchase a trendy faucet for under $100, and it makes all the sense in the world for the small bathroom tweaks to be consistent throughout. If you aren't up to doing all the job right - and getting plumbing wrong can be especially bad, as a flood is the last thing any homeowner wants to deal with, especially when trying to sell said home, then either nix the project or hire a pro to do the harder parts of the task.

Painting Worn Out Kitchen Cabinets

It’s no secret that an outdated kitchen can be a dealbreaker for some homebuyers. Still, if you haven’t gotten around to replacing your worn-out cabinets, surely you can make the kitchen cabinets look new for the listing photos with a coat of glossy white paint, right? Probably not.

The chances are that you could, However, you won’t fool buyers when they show up in person. The light color may entice buyers to request a showing, but once they see the cabinets are in poor condition, they may knock a few thousand dollars off the value, or stop buyers from considering making an offer in the first place.

The lesson here? Making home improvements before putting your home on the market for sale is often a good idea. Sometimes it's a must. However, bad DIY jobs can do more harm than good, so such projects should be considered carefully, and you should not be averse to deferring to a professional from the start when your own DIY skills will be stretched.

While no-one wants to spend much money on a home they plan to sell soon, no one wants to leave money on the table either, and a professional will charge you far more to fix a botched DIY job than to perform it themselves from the start to boot!


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