Wednesday, March 19, 2014

5 Things to Consider Before a Home Renovation

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 Here is a great article I thought was worth a share!

5 things to consider before a home renovation

There are some of us who think we can do everything. We take on multiple projects at a time, rarely say “no” and take a special level of pride in completing projects from start to finish on our own. We’re stubborn, proud and don’t mind rolling up our sleeves and getting down to business in order to get things done ourselves.

We want to do everything, even if that means driving ourselves crazy in the process.

However, when it comes to DIY projects around the house, especially if it’s pretty major project that you’d like to look beautiful and last for years (not to mention add value to your home), sometimes you just have to know when to DIY (Do it Yourself) or DIP (Do It Professionally). We recently learned our lesson and are so happy we knew when to throw in the towel.

As you know, we’re redoing our bathroom--re-tiling the walls, the floors, installing a new sink…. a fairly sizeable project. It started off earnestly enough; Eric tore up the floors, installed the sub floor and ripped out the old tile, while I got to work putting up new subway tile along the bottom half of the walls. We finished these portions of the project within a week, and then…. nothing. The bathroom sat half torn up for about three weeks. An out-of-town trip, followed by a death in the family, followed by both of us getting sick (me one week, him the next), meant no progress was made whatsoever. The walls sat half tiled, waiting for cuts and grout, and we took our time finding a sink that would work.

One morning, after almost a month since the project began, we looked at each other, looked at the bathroom and came to a realization: We were completely over trying to do this ourselves. The amount of time, stress we would put on ourselves, along with our relative inexperience in doing this kind of overhaul on an entire room pushed us over the edge. It was time to call in a pro.

So right now our pro, who helped us last year with the beautiful work of creating the open floor plan on our first floor, is finishing up the job in our bathroom. Although we love doing home projects on our own, we knew when it was time to hand it off.

Knowing when to bow out and leave it to the pros is a decision that can save time, money and stress to any homeowner. When you’re sitting on the fence about doing the project yourself or hiring someone to do the work for you, here are five questions you should ask yourself:

1. How skilled are you? This is the first, most important question you’ve got to ask yourself. Have you done a project like this before, or are you aware of all the steps and intricacies of the project? Are you generally handy, or do you need help switching out a light bulb? Take a step back and honestly assess your skill level. Chances are, even if you’re not skilled you can take on a project like tiling a backsplash, but steer clear of rerouting plumbing or electrical work throughout the house (or anything else that may be dangerous to do with little skill).

2. Are you on a deadline? Do you have a specific date you need to have the project finished by (out-of-town-guests, visitors, before a vacation, before the next holiday…)? Many times, no matter how skilled or determined you are, DIY projects can take much longer than you anticipate. As I’ve learned, unexpected circumstances can get in the way, and many times (especially if you work all day during the week) you just don’t want to devote hours every night after work to completing the project yourself. Also take into consideration how put out you will be by certain areas of your home being unusable during the reno. In our situation, we’re out of a toilet and a sink in our downstairs bathroom (thankfully we can use the shower during the reno, but have to rely on our upstairs half bath for everything else), which is a little annoying, but we’ve dealt with it. However, after a month of living this way, we couldn’t take it anymore.

3. Do you have the necessary tools? Research the project and make note of every tool you may need to complete it. Do you have them all? Can you borrow or rent them? If not, how much will it cost to buy everything you need? Always consider the tools before taking on a project yourself. If the job requires a $200 miter saw, consider the possibility that you’ll ever need to use this tool again. If you do end up buying it, add the cost to your overall project budget.

4. Are you on a strict budget? Budget is something to consider before any project, but when weighing the option to DIY versus hiring a professional, it’s especially important. Getting a quote from a handyman or contractor may be a little shocking at first, but usually the pro will include the materials needed, use of their tools, not to mention their high level of skill and time devoted to the project. You may think you’re cutting costs by DIYing, but every DIY project should include some kind of contingency fund for the inevitable time when things don’t quite go as expected (you need to buy new tiles after some break during cutting, you forgot to seal up your mortar and now it’s all dried out, your subfloor has water damage, etc.). Many times these unexpected costs will actually be more than what you would pay to hire a professional to do the job.

5. What else is going on in your life right now? Aside from skill level, this may be the most important factor in your decision. Is work busy right now? Do you have a lot of upcoming weekend plans? Is a big life change around the corner (planning a wedding, baby on the way)? If you’ve got a lot of outside stressors or plans coming up, you’ll save yourself so much anguish by hiring a pro. And those of you brave souls with little kiddos running around? Please consider going the professional route. If I’m stressing over completing a project and my biggest distraction is an interruption of my marathon of “The West Wing,” you definitely don’t want to have to worry about installing kitchen cabinets with a four year old tugging on your work belt the whole time. If you’re already stressing about something else, you’ll drive yourself crazy trying to tackle a renovation.

Of course, the decision is yours. There is a huge sense of satisfaction in completing a home renovation on your own. Nothing makes you feel like more of an accomplished adult (except, you know, maybe that whole “having a child” thing). But the route to get there is often filled with headaches, stubbed fingers, credit cards and (so, so many) swears. Weigh the options, consider the questions I’ve posed above and think realistically about the scope of your project.

Sometimes, even when you’re a stubborn, proud, do-it-all (like myself), it pays to know when to hand it off to a pro.

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