Budget-friendly DIY upgrades and remodels can be a great tactic for improving a home’s value with little investment, but some DIYs we have seen can range from potential minor damage to likely dangerous. Even when the work is completed by a professional, it is important to keep some of the design trends in mind that can actually be quite dangerous.
A common décor feature in many homes we have inspected is floating shelves. These are wonderful additions to your home’s aesthetics, so long as they were installed properly. These shelves are typically not designed for a lot of weight and are commonly not installed with enough support.
If you are installing floating shelves (or already have) be sure to use molly bolts or wall anchors, especially when installing against drywall. Anytime you mount a shelf, you should ideally mount it to a stud, but since these aren’t always where you want to hang things, wall anchors can add support to your décor. When not properly supported, floating shelves and other hanging décor can become overloaded and pull out from the wall, damaging the drywall, the shelving, and anything it may have been holding.
Stairs in a home have never usually been considered an exciting design element, and many DIYers have taken it upon themselves to change that. However, removing the graspable handrail that is installed (for safety and code reasons) may enhance the design of the room, but it can be potentially dangerous. This risk increases with floating staircases sans handrail.
Homebuilders and renovation contractors may install or modify staircases to a client's specifications, but it should be noted that handrails provide security when climbing or descending the stairs. Besides personal safety, liability should be another concern. If a visiting friend, relative, or contractor falls from your floating staircase, they may have grounds for a lawsuit, since the safety feature of your staircases was not installed or intentionally removed.
While antique appliances can add to a vintage aesthetic, provide a pop of pastel, or give a quirky, fun edge to a room, they can pose a major health risk. Many antique appliances were not built to the codes and requirements that modern appliances are. They can pose a high risk of starting electrical fires and usually are not equipped with built-in safety features. If you really want a more retro look, find manufacturers who are replicating old designs rather than shopping at antique stores and estate sales to ensure the safety of your home.
Much to the dismay of the younger generations, brick may have been covered over by drywall. This is reminiscent of the surprise of new homeowners discovering hardwood under the old shag carpet of the home they are renovating. However, the original hardwood floors brought delight—exposed brick may pose a health and environmental concern.
Brick is a very porous material, making it a poor insulator and conduit for mold growth since it can capture and hold moisture. If you are set on the charm of exposed brick, be sure to have it properly sealed to prevent any later concerns.
If you are buying a home with any of these features, a home inspection will help provide you with a better idea on the safety of the home. Homes don’t “pass” or “fail” a home inspection—they are only reviewed for overall safety and that the home is structurally sound. Any concerns suspected in your home are noted in your home inspection report.
As a homeowner, it is your responsibility to review this report and analyze any listed concerns, then decide whether to purchase the home or walk away. Some safety concerns, like those above, may be noted on your home inspection, but there is a way to rectify each. For example, having exposed brick properly sealed or anchoring any floating shelves that will be left behind in the sale.
If you are renovating a home, keeping these concerns about certain modern features and home trends in mind will help reduce any issues should you decide to sell your home in the future.