Every good homeowner should always be looking for ways to fix and improve his home. Small projects can improve the value of your home, give it a more personal touch, and give you a sense of accomplishment as you look at your improved living space. Even small improvements such as replacing the faucet can make your home look more modern and give it more value.
But for every smart fixer-upper, there is another person who trashes his home and loses thousands of dollars when he is forced to call a repairman to fix his mistakes. If you want to do things yourself, here are some key tips to consider before just jumping into any project that interests you.
1. Over-budget and Over-prepare
You cannot just wing DIY projects and hope for the best. Something is always going to go wrong. It may be that you need additional supplies or that your planned exterior renovations do not look quite right, but if you find yourself caught flatfooted in the middle of a project, it is difficult to either slog on or go back to the way things were.
So plan, plan, and plan some more. The Wanderlust Kitchen has a great guide on steps which you should be thinking if you intend to completely remodel your home, and notes the importance of making a plan now as well as determining what can be done first and put off until later. Even if your home renovation plans are not that ambitious, always assume that any project will take more time and money than you would think.
2. Get bang for your buck
A lot of homeowners hope that by renovating their home, they may be able to make up the costs by increasing its resale value. But most DIY projects are not going to be able to recoup themselves and treating your home like an investment instead of a home is not a great idea.
Nevertheless, some home improvement projects offer a better return than others. “Green” improvements such as double-paned windows or adding storm doors are very popular as is remodeling your kitchen. By contrast, adding a pool may be enjoyable but are a major turnoff for homeowners who would rather have a yard. If you are looking to improve your home’s value, make sure to do renovations which you know people years from now will value as opposed to something trendy.
3. Know when to fold them
There are far too many stories when some brave, foolish soul attempts a DIY project because he does not want to shame himself by calling a professional and ruins his house as a result. While you can do some projects yourself if you know what you are doing, do not hesitate to call a professional if you feel intimidated.
In particular, use a professional if you plan on making any changes to your home’s wiring, plumbing, or floors. This especially applies to the first two, as a mistake there can either kill you or see your home destroyed through a broken pipe. But if you intend to embark on a DIY project, do your research and do not start until you feel sure that you are ready to handle things.
4. Vet your handyman
If you intend to use a professional to fix up your home, then you need to hire someone you can trust. If you are careful, you can waste thousands of dollars on a contractor who will do shoddy work if not outright scam you.
The best way to find a reliable contractor is to ask friends and family if they know anyone who they trusted to fix their homes. This is a strategy I used when looking for custom home builders in Maryland, back in 2008. The contractor my brother had recommended also came well reviewed on Yelp and other review sites, which should be your second source. Once you have a name, call the contractor and ask for a face to face interview before the two of you start working. Do not forget to ask for a reference and discuss in detail what plans he might recommend for your particular renovation and how he might do things differently. An expert opinion should be always welcome.
5. Stick to your decision
You have drawn up the plans for your home renovation, picked a contractor, and started working. But when you are partially finished, you think about other renovations which would make your home look even better and consider switching to another project. Or perhaps you think that there is a better way to do your original project.
Avoid those lines of thinking. There is nothing worse in home renovation than a half-finished project. And if you try to change your project to accommodate your new interests, the end result will be a bizarre amalgamation which will appeal to no one. Make a plan, stick to the plan, and do not get distracted by other potential renovation plans until you are finished with the first project.
Featured photo credit: Mike Seyfang via flic.kr
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