Homeowner Doing Repairs

Should Homeowners Do Their Own Home Repairs? Part 2

Part 2 – Electrical Problems and Plumbing Mistakes

Missed Part 1? Read Home Repair, Remodeling, and Basement Finishes.

As a professional home inspector, I come across all types of do-it-yourself homeowner renovation mistakes. With access to a lot of information, and several TV shows discussing home repairs, many people feel certain complex home repairs are easy, and an easy way to save money.

The problem is, most home renovations and repairs done by homeowners are not performed correctly and quite often will fail home inspections. Last month, I talked about some of the common home repair, remodeling, and basement finishing problems I see on the job. This month, I want to focus on common electrical problems and plumbing mistakes. 

Electrical Problems

Here are the top electrical problems homeowners make when renovating the home:

  • Failure to install a junction box
  • Overfilling a junction box
  • Installing a junction box behind drywall
  • Cutting wires too short 
  • Mixing wire gauges
  • Cables are left unprotected 

Junction Box Issues

The junction box is one of the most common electrical mistake-prone areas in the home. Failing to install a junction box that is designed to contain electrical connections, can lead to heat and sparks if there is a short circuit. The junction box is designed to help with safety, but it doesn’t always guarantee safety. A box needs to be fitted into the wall correctly, not behind the wall. 

Another problem I find during home inspections is a junction box that is overflowing. Putting too many wires into a junction box is a fire hazard. 

Northern Utah's Top Home Inspectors

Reedy Set Go Pro Tip: A junction box is stamped with an approved volume on the side. 

Wire Cutting

When renovating a home, it is normal to move some electrical wires around, especially if you are planning to knock out or build a wall. However, a major issue I see is people cutting the wires too short. Wires need to have enough slack to extend about 3-6 inches from the junction box. For individuals that have already cut the wires too short, use an extension after splicing it to reduce problems.

When working on wires, the other concern is to prevent wire gauges. Understand the amp capacity for each gauge of the wire to ensure you are using the right sized wire for the amps in the circuit.


Never leave your cables unprotected within the home’s frame. If the cables are unprotected, the exposed wiring can lead to serious fire hazards. 

While electrical issues are one area homeowners should consider outsourcing, another remodel or repair that I often find is done poorly is bathroom remodels. Incorrectly installing showers, shower floors, and valves are some of the areas that fail inspections.

Improper Pipes

The plumbing system is one area of the home that needs to have the right experts working on it. Pipes in the kitchen are different from the pipes in the bathrooms, and quite often people combine the pipes and they can become corroded and leak. Pipes and appliance connections are another area that cause problems for homeowners, sometimes leading to low water pressure.

Shower Remodels 

Many homeowners choose to remodel their bathrooms, only to have serious water problems occur due to an improperly installed shower pan, drywall, and valves. Homeowners need to be mindful of the difficult process of installing a shower pan correctly. Cheap shower pans can lead to leaking, causing serious water damage around the shower, through the flooring and to the ceiling below.

Some builders will opt for the cheapest pan method, which can cause the shower to need rebuilding multiple times. Builders often set a fiberglass one-piece shower and surround it with a mud-set pan base, which is known for having a higher failure rate to crack and yellow. While mud-set pans will pass an inspection, it is important to know what you’re up against as they do have the highest failure rate of all shower pans

If the previous owners had work done, you may find out that their remodel work doesn’t meet code, leaving you with the consequence to fix their mess. Remodeling a bathroom is a job that is best left to professionals as they have the right training, equipment, and skillset to do the job correctly. Select a contractor with a trusted reputation as they stand behind their work, and will focus on doing the job correctly. 

Always make sure you do your research prior to hiring someone to work on your home. A reliable bathroom contractor is licensed, bonded, and insured.

Common Plumbing Mistakes

If you are planning to do some work on the plumbing system, know exactly what you are getting into. Certain mistakes are easy to fix, while others will need the work of a professional plumber. Here are some common plumbing mistakes to avoid:

  • Overtightening connections
  • Improperly installing thread tap on connections
  • Placing fixtures too close
  • Breaking the faucet when installing 
  • Improperly installing a drain valve 

Handling a home improvement project that you do not have the training, tools, and experience to handle can lead to disaster. Some homeowners find themselves starting a project they believe they can handle only to cause more damage to the home. Hiring a professional in the middle of a project can lead to more money as they need to undo the work that has caused additional problems. Talking to experts prior to starting a project can help you to assess your own skill level and determine if you are capable of handling a plumbing job. 


When it comes to remodeling, it is important to have the correct drywall used. Many homeowners doing a bathroom remodel do not realize that they need to have a particular type of wall to ensure a watertight seal. Greenboard is often used to back tile, but it cannot be used in a bathroom where you have water touching the tile. The water will seep through the tile, causing it to hit the drywall, and it will eventually start to rot the wall. 

If you are performing some remodeling work on your own, it is important to take time to understand the drywall inspection requirements so you won’t find yourself needing to re-do the wall in the future. Use this checklist from the American Society of Home Inspectors to help you with a pre-drywall inspection. 

Working on home repairs and remodels can be challenging without the right training, tools, and experience. If you need help understanding what is required to pass inspections for your home remodels and repairs, give Reedy Set Go a call!

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