For the Do-It-Yourself Homeowner (and Professional!)
To avoid serious injury, read, understand and follow the directions provided with all tools, especially power tools. Don’t use tools for anything other than their intended function.
Don’t work when you’re tired.
Work at an easy pace, never rush. Avoid the use of alcohol and narcotics, etc. before or during work.
Always wear appropriate shoes and clothing for the job you’re doing. (When working with or near hazardous materials such as lead, asbestos, and insulating materials, wear clothes that can be disposed of after completion of the job. Between work days, store contaminated clothing safely.)
Learn about working safely around lead.
Use dust masks and respirators when necessary.
Use hearing protection when necessary
Use eye protection at all times.
Use heavy work gloves when necessary and appropriate.
Don’t use inadequate or damaged equipment, tools or ladders etc..
Learn how to use ladders, planks, staging and scaffolding properly.
Provide adequate protection to other areas outside the work place from contamination of dust and debris. Dust is an unavoidable by-product of any remodeling or construction project. Take all reasonable precautions to minimize dust contamination of other areas of the residence during demolition and construction. Take care to protect other areas, possessions, pets and especially children that may be harmed from any dust contamination that does enter other areas of the residence.
Provide temporary fences, barricades, coverings or other protections to protect existing items that are to remain and to prevent injury or damage to persons, pets and property. At the end of each work day, an appropriate temporary barrier should be put in place to help prevent others, especially children and pets, from entering the work area. During the work day, tools and equipment may be left in areas outside the work area. Have someone take responsibility to protect children and pets from these areas.
Provide easy access and a tidy working environment for your own safety and that of other contractors.
Building permits and inspections are designed to protect you. Obtain any necessary building permits, submit any necessary drawings and arrange for any required inspections.
Use a utility line locating service before you dig under the ground. Improper handling of electricity can be deadly. Improperly working with natural gas can be deadly. Improper plumbing can be a health hazard. Demolition and construction sites can be dangerous places. If you are not willing to learn the appropriate skills and take necessary precautions you should hire professionals.
Solar energy has become a rapidly growing industry that should be treated as with every bit of caution as conventional energy sources. Matt Moses with Mimeos Energy says, “An array of solar PV wiring on solar panels should be treated with the same caution as a utility power line. You should test with meter device to ensure that all circuits are de-energized before working on them”.
Improperly discarded waste and building materials can be a safety hazard, a health hazard and/or an environmental hazard. For large projects, arrange with a licensed waste hauler for a dumpster(s) to be placed in an appropriate location on or near your property for the duration needed, and then removed when necessary. Dispose of all building material and debris in an appropriate manner.
Don’t make structural changes without professional advice. Rotted, damaged or otherwise compromised structural members should be properly reinforced or replaced. Do not cut out, bore through or otherwise compromise structural members without consulting a professional. Any structural elements discovered to be lacking, or required to be added by building codes and the remediation of any structural problems may require the advice or services of a professional contractor, engineer and/or architect.
The uncovering/discovery of any recognizable hazardous material (asbestos, lead, etc.) may require proper abatement by a separate contractor who is qualified to remove and dispose of such material. The removal, encapsulation or other remediation of hazardous material is not a do-it-yourself project!
Always use proper ventilation when using solvents or materials containing solvents. Open flames and solvents don’t mix. When using an open flame, use caution and be vigilant. It is a good idea to keep a working, well maintained fire extinguisher at the work site at all times.
Before starting any part of the job, take the time to plan for safety. Think safe, work safe, be safe. Safety first. The job will never get done on time if you are injured or killed!
And finally, so you and your spouse (partner) don’t kill each other in the process of restoring your own dwelling – as my friend Kelli likes to say – get a darn good marriage counselor!