Are you planning a major home renovation project? Or maybe you’re working on some DIY home repairs? Either way, you’re going to want to know what the best safety tips are for handling home improvement projects.
Whether you’re hiring an entire team of professionals or doing the work yourself, any type of home improvement comes with its own risks. The last thing you want is for you or someone else to get hurt, so in this article, we’re going to share some of the best safety tips out there for home improvement.
Doing it Yourself vs. Hiring a Pro
Many homeowners like to take a do-it-yourself approach to home improvements. This can be more cost-effective because you’re cutting out the cost of labor completely. However, unless you’re sure you know what you’re doing, DIY home improvement isn’t always wise. Doing that roof repair on your own could lead to a serious accident, which might easily end up costing more than the cost of labor would have been in the first place. In cases where you’re not sure what to do, and any time electricity or plumbing is involved at all, do yourself a favor and call a pro to help.
Best Safety Tips for DIY Projects
Renovating your home yourself is a big undertaking, and even small repairs shouldn’t be taken lightly. Home projects can take a toll on both your physical and mental health. Whether you’re replacing a light fixture or building a wooden porch, keep reading for the best safety tips for renovating your home yourself.
Take Good Care of Your Tools
All good contractors know that, when it comes to tools and building materials, you get what you pay for. The best strategy for keeping yourself and others safe is to use only high-quality products during your home improvement projects. If the best products fall a little too far outside your budget, look for high-quality materials and brand-name tools that have been marked down. It’s far better to buy something good at a discount than to settle for something of questionable value and durability.
Of course, buying the best tools won’t help if you fail to use and maintain them properly. Dull saws and loose handles can be serious safety hazards. But if you take care of your tools, your tools will take care of you. If you notice your saw is getting dull, buy a new blade. When a bolt or handle seems loose, don’t ignore it — find a way to tighten it. And if any of your power tools develop frayed cords, don’t use it! Replace the tool if you can, or at the very least wrap electrical tape around the frayed area.
On this note, don’t use tools for things they aren’t meant for. If you need a wood chisel but you have a screwdriver on your tool belt, resist the temptation to use the screwdriver, as this could damage it. Use the right tools for the right projects. Failing to do this isn’t always necessarily dangerous, but you never know when compromising could lead to damage or injury.
Use Ladders Safely
A sturdy, high-quality stepladder goes a long way towards making small jobs and quick fixes easier, from cleaning gutters to replacing lightbulbs to changing smoke alarm batteries. If you don’t have one already, you should get one, as it’s going to be a must if you intend to do a lot of home improvement.
Most consumer-grade ladders are made of either wood or aluminum, and although both types are sturdy and reliable, aluminum weighs less than wood, so an aluminum ladder will be easier to tote around. Here’s where we get to our first ladder safety tip: besides buying a good, sturdy ladder from a reputable brand, you must be sure and choose one with a weight rating suitable for your own weight and the work you need to do. For example, a Type I ladder is rated for a weight of up to 250 pounds, a Type II ladder is weighted for 225 pounds, a Type III ladder is rated for 200 pounds, and so on. It’s helpful to know that each ladder is actually tested at four times its rated weight, so going a few pounds over is usually no big deal. For most people and projects, a Type II ladder is completely adequate for around-the-house labor.
Besides choosing a ladder with the right weight rating, you’ll need to get one for the right height as well. Most homeowners will find a six-foot ladder more than sufficient, but they’re available in different heights, from eight feet to 16 feet, as well. For added safety, choose a ladder with rubber or plastic feet on the bottom to avoid skidding across hard surfaces.
Even if you follow all of these best safety tips for buying a ladder, it’s important to recognize that no ladder is completely safe. After all, you’re defying gravity every time you climb up one, and if you’re not careful you could easily lose your footing and fall back down. To avoid this, only use stepladders in their fullest, most-open position, and make sure the spreader braces are locked and the bucket shelf is pushed all the way down.
You should use both hands to grasp each side of the ladder every time you climb up or down it. It goes without saying that if you need to use any tools or paint while you’re on the ladder, you should place these up on the top platform or bucket shelf before climbing up; don’t climb it with tools in your hands. And never climb higher than two rungs from the top — if you need to reach higher than your ladder will safely allow, you’ll need to get a different ladder. You also shouldn’t sit or stand on either the top platform or the bucket shelf.
Ladders are among the most important and commonly-used tools for homeowners. By following the advice given here, you’ll ensure that you use yours in the safest way possible.
Maintain a Safe Work Area
The space you’re working in may not be as dangerous as a real construction zone, but it can still be dangerous, especially if it gets disorganized or dirty. Leaving buckets and boxes on the floor and wrapping electrical cords across the room create serious tripping hazards. Ignoring dust, dirt, and debris that’s collected on the floor could cause someone to slip. And leaving a power tool turned on or plugged in when not in use could cause serious cuts, electrocution, or even fires.
The surest way to stay out of trouble in your home work area is to keep everything tidy at all times. When you’re finished with a tool, unplug it and put it next to the wall, well out of the way. Don’t simply leave things sitting around when you aren’t using them. Try to clean up messes as they occur, instead of putting off all the cleanup until after you’re finished working.
When you leave clutter out from a repair or renovation, you create tripping hazards for yourself and your family. Someone could easily sprain or twist and ankle. While minimizing clutter can help prevent these injuries, be sure that you know how to provide ankle twist treatment at home and where the nearest urgent care center is. Knowing these key bits of information will help keep your family safe just in case someone does trip or fall.
Be especially cautious of sharp objects. That includes things like knives and saws, as well as nails, screws, and other fasteners. Never leave a nail or screw sticking up out of a board, wall, or other flat surface, as things like that can easily puncture deep into the skin and cause infection. If you’re working with old lumber, make sure there are no old nails sticking out of the boards before bringing them into your work area.
When you’re working around the house, wherever you’re stationed should be strictly off-limits to children, and ideally anybody else who isn’t actively helping you. Even if you’re careful to maintain a clean workspace, anyone walking through without paying attention is putting themselves at risk of getting hurt, and this is especially true for small children.
As a side note, you should make sure you’re dressed for the job you’re performing. Depending on what you’re doing, you may need protective clothing or gear to ensure your safety. Heavy gloves, steel-toed boots, safety glasses, and face masks are important to have on hand, and you should be wearing them more often than not, just to be safe.
Don’t Attempt Anything You Aren’t Comfortable With
This is one of the best safety tips for DIY construction: if you aren’t completely confident in your ability to do something, you should probably avoid doing it.
When you’re working with heavy equipment like demolition shears, you can quickly get in over your head. Even around the house, some simple jobs are best saved for professional contractors or handymen. There are some things you can learn how to do from articles and videos online, and in many cases it’s perfectly acceptable to learn about home repairs in this way. But if you start to feel overwhelmed or unqualified for what you’re doing, you should take a break and collect your thoughts. Don’t attempt to do something that might put you, your home, or one of your family members at risk.
Best Safety Tips for Professional Renovations
Just because you’re outsourcing those roof repairs to your local roofing service doesn’t mean you get to forget about safety. It’s great that you’re letting the pros handle this high-risk work instead of tackling it yourself, but you and your family will still need to watch your backs to avoid getting yourselves or the work crew hurt. The remaining best safety tips in this article will tell you how.
Validate the Credentials of Your Contractor
When you hire garage door repair services or any other company to do work for you, avoiding damage and injury is usually up to the crew. In fact, the best safety tips when you’re hiring a contractor could almost be summed up as “stay out of their way” — it’s nearly as simple as that.
But any time you entrust something as critical as your home to a professional, it’s up to you to ensure they have the necessary credentials for the job. If they lack the necessary licenses or training or if they have a terrible track record with past clients, then you might be worse off hiring them than you would have been doing the work yourself.
To make sure you get the right contractor or service for the job, start by reviewing their code history for the last five projects they completed. This is more reliable than simply calling up their list of references. If you’re hiring a building or renovation contractor, seek out evidence that they get projects approved by the local buildings department at every necessary stage, including the occupancy permit. Of course, depending on the type of service you’re hiring, the results you should look for will be different. If all you need is residential concrete services to pour a sidewalk in front of your home, the stakes aren’t quite as high as they would be if you were pouring a new foundation.
To make sure your contractor hasn’t been involved in any lawsuits, violations, or scams, check with the attorney general’s office in your state. Their website should contain all the information you need, without even needing to talk to a person.
Take special care over defining the contract between you and the service you’re hiring. Never assume they’ll do something that wasn’t included in the original contract. The contract should include the entire scope of the project, with as many specific details as possible.
And finally, request copies of your contracting service’s proof of liability insurance. You should file this with your mortgage and title documents for safekeeping. During this step, you should also check with your property insurance company to find out what construction-related accidents are covered by your policy. You might need to purchase additional coverage for the full duration of the project to be safe.
Always Get an Inspection and an Estimate First
Verifying the credentials of your contractor is an essential step but that isn’t the only prep work you need to do before hiring a professional for your home remodeling project. One of the best safety tips when working with a professional company is to get an inspection and estimate first.
Getting both of these services will help ensure that the professional you are paying has a complete understanding of the state of the project and that you have a complete understanding of how much you will pay for their work. When you need to replace your roof, for instance, you should have the contractor do a roofing inspection first. Not only will it familiarize the contractor with your roof, but the inspection will let you know for certain whether or not you need to replace it. You’ll also want to get an estimate from the contractor for the roof replacement. If the contractor gives you an estimate that seems dramatically lower than estimates from other roofing companies in your area, that could be a red flag. A low estimate may been that the contractor provides low-quality work or doesn’t have enough experience to know the appropriate price for roof replacements. By following these best safety tips, you’ll know that you’re getting high-quality service that you can trust for years to come.
Protect Your Family and Valuables During Construction
The precautions you take will likely depend on the type of project you’re doing. If you’re hiring a fence company to build a privacy fence around your yard, their work will stay outside and you won’t have to worry about protecting your family or valuables. If you’re opening your home to construction workers, however, it can make your family feel vulnerable and uncomfortable. You can alleviate these feelings by making sure your family knows what to expect, keeping everyone out of harm’s way, and protecting your valuables.
Any items of value should be removed from the construction area. If your house is going to be open overnight for a couple days, you might want to put all valuables you own in storage to prevent theft.
Whether large or small, any construction site poses a site. If you or your contractor contacts a forklift dealer for heavy equipment for the project, make sure your children know not to bother the construction crew or go near work sites. Even if you don’t have a forklift at your home, little ones need to stay clear of the work area. You might have them spend a night or two with friends or relatives during construction.
From major renovations to HVAC repair, by following the best safety tips in this article, you and your family will have a better chance at staying safe during any home improvement project.