Gilbert + Burke Blog

Custom Home Construction and Remodelling Tips

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If a wobbly deck board or leaky toilet is ruining your cottage getaway, you might be a couple hours and a little elbow grease away from relief. If you’re fairly handy, have the right tools, and have a little time on your hands (and who doesn’t at the cottage) there are several cottage repairs you can tackle yourself. But, there are others you can’t. Not to be the bearer of bad news—or to underestimate your handiness—but all the Youtube Tutorials in the world aren’t a substitute for proper training, and trying and failing a complicated repair could end up costing you much more than hiring an expert. Here are three repairs you can take on yourself, and three repairs where you have to call in the big guns.


 

TO DIY

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Replace a toilet or plumbing fixture (maybe)

This one comes with a big caveat: while some basic plumbing is okay, anything that involves replacing a full toilet or changing a plumbing run is out of scope for an amateur plumber. Our advice is to do your research before starting any project: if it seems overwhelming, it probably is.

 

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Painting/staining 

If the cabin needs a new lick of paint or the boat house needs a darker stain, have at it! Before you start, make sure you have the necessary drop cloths, rollers, brushes, and enough paint to finish the job. You are also going to want to well-researcged on the proper prepartion for painting/staining—could mean the differenc between a success, and less than a success. Make sure to slather on the sunscreen and wear a hat if you’re painting outside—and stay hydrated! Painting can be tough work. 
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Replacing deck boards

Replacing a rotted or split deck board is only a day’s work if you have the right tools and materials. The hardest part is taking out the old deck board. There will likely be a few tools that you will need including a pry bar, hammer, nails/deck screws and a few others. You may even need a skill saw or jigsaw to get the job done. Remember that your safety should take priority and when dealing with prying & cutting wood be sure to wear your safety glasses! While simple, this procedure does involve some elbow grease and a few fiddly steps, so make sure to do your research and all your shopping in advance to save time and hassle.


NOT TO DIY

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Build an addition (or any structure requiring a permit)

The sheer amount of work involved with these types of projects is too much for one person to undertake. From start to finish, there are roughly 40 major tasks involved in this type of build—some of which can take a crew of several weeks to complete. Not to mention the very specific, detailed work necessary to pass inspections, which would be nearly impossible for an amateur the first time around - leading to expensive re-work. Trust us: things will go a lot faster, smoother and better if you get help.

 

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Electrical work 

Rookie electricians are, quite literally, in for a shock. Considering the risks associated with messing up an attempt at electrical work involve serious injury or even death, it’s absolutely not worth taking it on alone. Any electrical work will also have to be up to code, so leave it in the capable hands of an expert who will know the rules and regulations inside and out.

 

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Relocation of walls, plumbing runs, doorways

Relocation can be tricky for several reasons. Is the wall load bearing? You might think not, but there are several smaller, more obscure signs only a professional would notice. Is the pipe hard to get at, and does it have multiple connections? How can you know without tearing out the walls of your house and re-drywalling? You can’t—but a professional will. Is the door on a load-bearing wall, and will there be any obstructions like ducts, pipes and wiring to move, too? Big questions for a rookie that would take little effort for a contractor to answer.



 

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