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DIY Home Remodeling Basics
Do-it-yourself — or DIY — projects are relatively popular ventures. According to the New York Post, “the average American has nine DIY jobs” that they need to tend to or have in planning. Some use DIY projects as a creative outlet, while others choose to carry out a project in order to save money. Regardless of the reason, proper planning and considerations must be taken into account in order to effectively do a project on your own.
Planning DIY Home Remodel Projects
Prior to picking up a hammer and nails, you need to assess and adequately plan your DIY project or projects. There are specific factors to consider, and practices to implement, in order to set yourself up for success with your home improvements.
Is DIY Work Right for You?
In some cases, it is a better choice to involve a professional contractor for certain projects or specific aspects of a process. There are an array of things to consider when weighing whether to do a project yourself versus hiring it out. Consider the following:
Are you capable of doing the project?
Do you have the tools for the project?
Does the DIY project require any special certifications?
How much time can you commit to the project?
While painting a room or installing mantel shelves are projects that most individuals can tackle on their own, there are plenty of projects that require special training or certifications. Although the web offers a surplus of how-to videos, they are not always specific to your situation. If your DIY project entails plumbing, electrical, installation, or any risk-heavy DIY projects, it may be smart to include outside professional help. Unrealistic DIY improvements may include:
Installing appliances: Appliance installation seems like a simple plug-and-play process, but oftentimes it requires cutting into cabinets, tapping into water lines, and positioning alongside electrical lines;
Knocking down/removing a wall: Removing a wall appears to be a fun, simple demolition project, but in reality, if you are to take down a wall that has electrical wiring, or a load-bearing wall, the implications could be very unforgiving;
Roofing: Fixing a leak in a roof, or patching up some shingles can usually be done by the average person, but in most cases, this is just putting a band-aid on the initial problem;
Replacing or fixing water lines: Unless you are aware of what your water lines look like, dismantling and fixing water lines can be very complex and poses a variety of risks;
Installing a GFCI switch: Ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) switches are used to prevent electrical injury to humans. Where (in proximity to water) and when to use a contractor (when an outlet only has two plug slots) is crucial in the case of a GFCI installation or replacement.
A tell-tale sign of whether or not your job is a DIY opportunity or not is if the project requires a permit. In some cities, it is easy to obtain a permit, while it is harder to obtain in other cities.
Getting a permit is no issue in itself (in most cases), but if your project raises red flags for the city, it should raise some apprehension for you as well. Follow the safety precautions surrounding specific permits if you decide to continue doing it yourself. If you choose to go the hiring route be sure to compare contractor costs, look at online reviews, and shop around to get the best deal that works for your specific home improvement.
Define the Scope of Your Project
It is easy to unintentionally turn a DIY project into a DIY full home remodel. When you do your original project, you may think of three other simple little projects, and suddenly your small DIY project grows a little out of hand. It becomes important to assess the scope of what your project entails. Walk through the area that you are planning to renovate and take notes, paying attention to detail. Common questions to consider are:
What project or projects are you tackling?
Does this project cut into multiple rooms?
How long will the project take?
What does the project cost?
It is important to consider all of the conditions surrounding the project and for you to determine if the project is actually a DIY-friendly project — or more of a project that might need some outside help.
Preparing the Work Area
Ensuring that your workplace is ready and risk-free is crucial for your safety and the effectiveness of the DIY project. How to prepare a work area depends on the task at hand. To elaborate, what one job requires, another job may not. For example, prepping a room that you are painting will require more preparation than changing the outlet covers around the house. Ultimately when you are preparing your work area, you want the area to be free of messes. Clutter can diminish efficiency and create workplace hazards.
Determining the Cost to Remodel Your House
One of the factors that encourages individuals to do products on their own (instead of hiring a professional) is the enticing idea of saving money. If you are unaware of the costs surrounding your specific DIY projects, you may end up spending more than if you were to hire outside help.
DIY Home Improvement Budget Spreadsheet
One of the best ways to make sure you budget correctly is to list everything out. This can be done by writing a physical inventory and totaling the cost, or more efficiently through an excel sheet. There are home construction budget spreadsheet templates available to make the process even easier. Make sure that you track everything you can in your budget. This includes any allocations for outside work, permit/inspection fees, nails, paints, and any items, resources, or services that play a part in the remodel.
Renovation Cost Estimator
There are tools that give a general estimate of renovation costs on two levels: one for an estimate of the cost of DIY work, and the other for a renovation cost that includes hiring a contractor. The renovation cost estimator offers a breakdown of costs by the following types of projects:
Ceilings & floors;
Windows & stairs.
Home Improvement Tips
There are suggested guidelines to follow that include essential tips for homeowners to consider as well. Tips can change from house to house, but generally, the lists include the following:
Hone your skills: Study up on jobs that you are unfamiliar with. There are free resources and tools such as that can offer support during home improvements such as Home Depot Ideas & How-tos and the Family Handyman ;
Prioritize: Complete small, simple, or urgent projects first;
Budget: Create a home improvement budget to ensure you do not bite off more than you can chew financially;
Create a maintenance schedule: Maintenance should be regularly scheduled. Narrate times that you look over aspects of your home in order to avoid large home improvements that could be avoided with regular maintenance;
Define DIY parameters: Be aware of your handy-man limits. Set guidelines for projects you feel comfortable with, and define areas in which you will need to hire a pro.