Have you been putting off some seemingly hard-to-handle home improvement projects? If so, there’s still time to tackle do-it-yourself tasks like a home improvement pro – from painting high ceilings and stairwells to repairing garage and basement floors. With the right tips and tools, you can accomplish these home improvements like a pro.
Take Your Time
Caring for a home is more like a marathon than a 100-yard dash. Trying to sprint through repairs in the days before you host a dinner party or the in-laws come for a visit only leads to frustration. And, like a winded runner dropping out of a race early, you won’t finish. But if you pace yourself, taking on just one project a weekend, you’ll always be working like a home improvement pro.
Know your limits!
When you think about tackling DIY home renovation, it is wise to consider your limits. Know the boundaries of your capabilities and you will find yourself in a much better position when planning your budget and timescale. With the TV channels bursting with DIY home renovation shows, it is fashionable to spend your weekends and bank holidays ‘DIYing’; some making a career out of DIY home renovation.
Most cosmetic DIY home renovation tasks can be tackled with enthusiasm and are not beyond the reach of many of us. However, jobs such as electrics and plumbing will require a home improvement pro.
Often, realising your limitations and hiring a home improvement pro for certain tasks can help you to not only stick to your budget, but also bring the renovation to fruition more quickly. Here are some projects I recomment hiring a pro for.
Self-assembly kitchen – this is a task that initially seems like a great idea; buying a flat-packed kitchen to assemble and fit in a weekend, saving money.
In reality, these can create further problems if not assembled correctly – gaps in fittings, small mistakes in planning that can cause a knock-on effect with tiling, appliance fitting and under-cupboard lighting, for example. All these aspects should be considered during the planning, purchase, assembly and fitting of a kitchen in a DIY home renovation.
Sometimes it is wise to share the job with a professional – assemble the cupboards and get them fitted professionally.
Sandblasting stonework or sanding floors – a couple of times, I have tackled these tasks with gusto. It is rewarding to see the finished result and seems like a great way to save money. In actual fact, hiring the equipment and spending the time performing these tasks can end up with only a small cost difference. Professionals also tidy up after themselves, which, particularly with sandblasting, can be a mammoth event!
Electrics – There is a very real safety issue with tackling your own electrics and working upon live cables is a definite no-no for all but a qualified electrician. However, some money can be saved here if you obtain help from an electrician that can offer you drawings and advice for the cable runs.
Running the cables is quite safe. Second fixing and connections can be carried out by the professional after you have run your cables.
Tiling – many of us think that tiling will be an easy task for DIY home renovation. This is not always the case. A professional tiler can complete the job in a fraction of the time and can compensate for walls that are not completely true, or flat. Grouting is a job that can be carried out, DIY-fashion, once the tiles are in place.
Some of these tasks can initially seem perfect for the DIY home renovation project. If you are renovating to sell on, time is of the essence and it is up to you to realise your limits in order to gain the most of your budget, while maintaining a good standard throughout, which is critical for maximum profit.
Avoid common DIY disasters
Doing it yourself can be satisfying, but for many novice DIYers home repairs can be fraught with pitfalls. If you’re looking to tackle a big project in the near future, here are some common mistakes to avoid.
Not setting a realistic schedule – Too often people have unrealistic expectations about how long a project will take. Often projects end up being bigger than you originally envision, and if you don’t plan for these sorts of contingencies, you could end up living in a never-ending construction site. Even small projects can fall victim to the problem of unrealistic scheduling. Setting aside a single day to repaint the living room, for instance, can cause problems if you find out too late that your chosen paint color requires a coat of primer underneath, doubling the time it takes to do the job.
Not lining up all your materials before you start – Nothing sends a project spiraling out of control like failing to have everything on hand when you start a project. Do-it-yourselfers could save themselves a ton of headaches, and added trips to the hardware store, by making a list of materials and checking it twice. But it often an an all-too-common scenario emerges: A supplier promises that the new bathroom tiles will be in next week so an eager DIYer looking to get a jump on the project starts ripping out the old floor. Then the supplier calls to say the delivery date has shifted, or that the wrong tiles have arrived, and now you’re stuck with a torn up bathroom floor for the next four weeks. Prevent your next project from becoming a DIY nightmare by having everything you need on hand from day one.
Overlooking the permits – Many DIYers think that a project is so small enough that it doesn’t need a permit. Or they fear that a new addition might bump up their property taxes, so they don’t bother filing the right paperwork with the city. But not getting the right documentation for your addition can cause your house to fail a building inspection someday when you’re looking to move, causing the the potential sale to fall through. Avoid trouble down the road and get the proper permits for the job before you start.
When you should hire a home improvement pro – If you’re not a licensed electrician, you probably should attempt to do complex electrical work. And the same goes for other tasks that legally require a licensed technician. Sure, you might have great DIY skills and maybe you can get the job done nearly as well as a pro can, but taking on this sort of work can come back to haunt you later. A bungled job can lead to an electrical fire or roof collapsing, and, depending on your homeowners insurance, problems caused by unlicensed work might not be covered, leaving your out-of-pocket to do the repairs. A big part of being a successful DIYer is knowing when to call in a home improvement pro.