Many homeowners enjoy do-it-yourself home renovation and repair projects. If you’re planning a project and considering the do-it-myself route, here’s some advice that may help with your plans.
Do you have the necessary skills?
Consider your own skills and abilities carefully. While many of today’s home improvement products are designed to make it easy for do-it-yourselfers, other projects will require specialized skills. Seeing how something was done on a TV renovation show isn’t the same as having practical experience. Getting in over your head can end up costing more money, and frustration, than hiring professional help in the first place.
Do you need a building permit?
Typically, any renovation that changes the structure of your home requires a building permit issued by your municipality. This also means inspections of the work at the appropriate times to ensure the work meets the local building codes. Be sure to get a permit if you need one. Keep in mind that someone looking to buy your house in the future may ask about the renovation work and want verification that the work was done to code.
Do you have the time?
Renovation or significant home repair projects can require a lot of your time to complete. If the work disrupts your day-to-day routine (e.g., kitchen/bathroom renovations) or exposes your home to weather (e.g., roofing projects, exterior refinishing), delays can be a real problem. So before you commit to doing it yourself, be realistic about how much time the work will take, and your ability and willingness to invest this time. If you don’t have the time, don’t start the work.
Do you have the tools and equipment?
Saving money by doing it yourself can easily be undermined if you have to layout hundreds of dollars for tools and equipment. Renting is always an option, but costs can also add up quickly if you’re doing the work in your spare time. So when you develop a do-it-myself budget, include realistic costs for buying or renting tools and equipment.
How do the rest of your household feel about it?
Being a do-it-yourselfer is great – as long as everyone else in your household shares your enthusiasm. Nothing undermines a do-it-yourself project faster than having your family upset when their normal routine is disrupted. So talk it through with everyone ahead of time, and make sure you have a team behind you!
If you’re doing it yourself to save money – get a second opinion to be sure you are saving
If your primary reason for doing-it-yourself is to save money, talk to a contractor before you make a final decision. An experienced renovator or trade contractor may be able to suggest ways of reducing the cost of your project while still using professional services where you lack the time or skills. You can also save by doing the finishing work yourself, such as painting or wallpapering, while leaving the more complex work to the pros.
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