From television shows that teach people how to do various projects to the proliferation of home improvement stores with their endless aisles of products beckoning us to give them a try, the do-it-yourself lifestyle has really taken off. While it is possible to tackle some home improvement projects on your own — like painting, wallpapering and more — in many cases it’s best to call in a professional. The following tips will help DIY’ers avoid home renovation disasters, and finish their projects safely and without spending a ton of extra money:
Know Your Limits
After you determine what you want to accomplish in your home, Money Crashers advises taking a hard and honest look at your abilities, talent and knowledge. Sure, that show you watched last week made replacing a deck look super easy, but in many cases what looks like a simple task ends up being a royal pain in the behind. In addition, some home renovation projects require the use of specific tools you might not already own, so any savings you enjoy doing the project on your own will be eaten up by supplies and tools you might use just one time. In general, it’s probably best to call in a professional if your home remodeling project involves any type of structural change, anything with electrical work or plumbing, or replacing windows.
Learn All You Can About Your Project
While online resources like YouTube offer dozens of videos that teach people how to tackle a variety of home improvement projects, keep in mind that they are not necessarily accurate or even appropriate for your part of the country. Let’s say, for example, you have your heart set on installing a koi pond in your backyard. Before you rent a mini backhoe and start digging into your backyard, make sure you get the proper instructions on how to add a koi pond to your neck of the woods. As U.S. News and World Report notes, the video you find on YouTube might be about a similar project in California, but if you live in an area of the country with colder temperatures, it might not include the instructions you need. A great option is to see if a local home improvement store offers a class that covers the project you want to tackle; this way you can rest assured that it will be tailored to your part of the country, and that the advice will be accurate.
Check on Insurance and Permits
If you do hire a contractor to help with at least some of the work, Vista Magazine notes it’s important to speak with him or her about insurance. Be wary of hiring someone who is uninsured; if the contractor is injured while working on your home renovation project, you will probably be liable for the cost. In addition, do your homework ahead of time and make sure you have any permits in place before starting your project. While most city ordinances don’t cover minor projects like painting, they often require permits for things like new decks, installing new siding on a home, or even a bathroom remodel.
Determine How Much the Project will Cost
While DIY’ers are often motivated by savings to tackle home renovations, in many cases the project can turn out to be a proverbial money pit. Before you start swinging a hammer, sit down and calculate the real cost of the project, and understand it can vary depending on where you live. To help you estimate the cost, Houzz has a nifty online tool called “Real Remodeling Cost Calculator.” Just type in facts, like where you live and what type of project you have in mind, and the calculator will give you a good idea of what you can expect to pay to complete it.