DO’S AND DON’TS OF DIY Outdoor Home Projects

By Mike Holmes

Mike’s Advice / Outdoor Renovations

Thursday, May 16th, 2019 @ 2:38pm

A Guide for DIY Outdoor Home Projects

As warmer weather approaches, many of you will begin to plan home renovations and get the house ready for the summer season. I always say to start your home repair and maintenance tasks first so that you aren’t only spending money on aesthetics. Small repair jobs left untouched can become big problems down the road. Here is my advice for your DIY outdoor home projects.

Basement renovations, bathroom remodels and kitchen renovations are the most popular renovations people tackle but many of you will also be planning upgrades or improvements to your outdoor structures. That makes sense. Your deck or patio is a great place to host parties in the summer, and fixing the exterior of your home will increase the curb appeal.

When it comes to outdoor living space you’ll need to plan accordingly. If it’s a renovation or if it’s building a patio from the ground up, you can attempt to DIY but there are a few things to keep in minds such as building permits and safety concerns. It’s a general rule of thumb to hire professionals for work where you lack the skills to complete. But when you hire a professional how do you know you’re hiring the right professional for the job?

What outdoor structures are you putting up this season?

DON’T: Build A Deck Yourself in Your Outdoor Projects 

Ask yourself what you will be using your deck for. You need to have a clear goal for what the deck is used for and with that in mind you can properly plan for the design. Are you building a patio to have an outdoor meal, to have a quiet place to relax or will you be hosting parties?



It’s important to have a goal in my mind before building anything just like a deck.

If you are looking forward to having a quiet place to relax, then you’ll need shade covers or maybe fence off the deck from neighbours. If you plan on hosting outdoor parties, you need to have a lot of open space.

Ask yourself these questions before you get started on the building stage:

  • What kind of shade is important for my patio? Do I want a retractable awning, pergola, or maybe umbrellas will suffice?
  • Lighting is crucial, not just for looks but for safety as well. Whether it’s deck lights or prefer to have stair lights, ask yourself what’s the best lighting for your patio.
  • How private do you want your patio? Do you need privacy screens or do you need it fenced off?
  • Do you plan on having outdoor speakers or do you plan on just bringing portable speakers?
  • Last but not least, it’s BBQ season, meaning you need to consider if you need a gas line hooked up or simply use propane?



If you have a deck already, inspect it thoroughly before you start hosting events on it. I have heard of too many decks collapsing and injuring people. It’s always a good idea to have a home inspector come in and inspect your deck.

DO: Fix Your Fence Posts

Fixing a fence post is an easy DIY job. If your fence post is wobbly, I recommend using Sika Post Fix — a fast-setting polyurethane foam for fence posts that mixes in 20 seconds and sets in 3 minutes, full strength in 2 hrs. You can use traditional concrete if your fence is wobbly but if you are short on time, I recommend Sika Post Fix

If you are installing a new fence, finding out where your property lines are is key. You don’t want to be installing a fence on the line, or on your neighbour’s property. Be sure to check with your municipal government if you require a permit for your fence.

DO: Think About Putting In A Swimming Pool Twice


A swimming pool from Leisure Pools

In my opinion, the real benefit of a swimming pool is if it allows your family and friends to spend more time together. If you are installing a swimming pool, there is a chance your home’s electrical work may need to be upgraded. More about swimming pools here.

DON’T: Install A Hot Tub Yourself in Outdoor Projects 

Selecting a hot tub is the easy part. Installing a hot tub is not so simple. You may need permits and you may even need to hire an engineer or an architect to properly design the placement of your hot tub. Installing a hot tub may even require structural changes to your home. More about hot tubs here.

DON’T: Plant Too Close To Your House

When planting too close to your house even the slightest shift in your grading can have a negative impact.


Planting too close will be disturbing the soil directly against your foundation and with more airspace created by soil that’s not as firmly packed down, water has more opportunity to leak through to your basement.

Landscaping can be a big project, it’s good to plan ahead before you attend to your yard.

DO: Take Care Of Your Roof

Roof maintenance is an important task that should be on your home maintenance checklist every year. Some tips to keep in mind are:

  • Shingles should be checked every year. Signs such as bare patches and curled edges could indicate that your shingles may not have much life yet.
  • Check your gutters and downspouts and remove debris. If you find that the eavestroughs are clogged, water will back up under the shingles and cause damage to the roof deck.

Most roof maintenance can be DIY but when it comes to replacing your roof you’ll need to hire a professional.

DO: DIY Outdoor Backyard Projects

Although I recommend hiring a professional for most outdoor structural jobs, there are DIY projects you can tackle to bring some life into your outdoor space. DIY planter boxes are a fairly easy project to tackle. If you have a herb garden you can really bring some creativity to your backyard. My daughter Sherry built me a planter box with a cooler for my backyard, and it’s awesome.


Whatever outdoor project or renovation you are tackling this season, remember to do your research before hiring a contractor.

Slow down, do your research and make sure there is a contract in place, The planning stage should take just as long as the actual building stage. You need to ask your contractor these questions: 

  • When can you start and when will you finish?
  • How long have you been in business?
  • Have you done many projects like mine in the past year?
  • Can I have a list of references from those projects?
  • Will the renovation site be a safety concern for my family?
  • What’s the percentage of your business that’s repeat or referral business?
  • Are you a member of a national trade association?

Don’t attempt to put in outdoor structures yourselves unless you are a qualified professional. Don’t get fooled by the DIY videos online. Projects take much longer in real life and are more complicated than what you see. Here are some other things DIY videos don’t show you.

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