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4 Questions You Need to Answer Before You Tear Down the Walls
Homeowners embark on do it yourself projects everyday. Sometimes, a problem presents itself that must be repaired immediately, such as a leak. Sometimes, the homeowner wishes to improve the salability of his home and undertakes larger projects, such as an addition to the home or remodeling the kitchen. Then there are those who wish to improve or update the look of their home. Whether itís an immediate need or a major undertaking, there are many questions to ask yourself prior to initiating any project on your own. Yes, you can save yourself a lot of money by doing your own home improvements, but any project, large or small, requires some pre-planning. The bigger the project, the more planning is involved. After all, you donít want your project to end up costing twice as much as necessary because you didnít thoroughly plan for any potential complications.
Whether youíre installing cabinets, building a deck or adding crown molding throughout your home, a comprehensive plan will benefit the homeowner prior to initiating the project. Below are some questions and considerations for the homeowner to ask before tearing down those walls or visiting the local home improvement center.
What is your plan?
What do you hope to accomplish? Are you remodeling or adding a room? Or is it a simple problem that needs attended to immediately? How much do you need or want to spend? Your plan should begin with setting some priorities. Break the project down and rate the importance of each aspect. Decide on expense and speed. Does your project require the best quality or can you cut some corners? For example, do you have to use plaster ornamentation or can you substitute polyurethane? Do you want it done yesterday or is it something with which you should take your time?
Try to determine what your costs will be. Do some homework ahead of time. Obtain bids from contractors and other professionals. This will give you a better idea for what the project entails, whether or not you plan on completing some or all of the work yourself. I like to obtain at least three random bids for any work that I have done. Also, visit the home improvement stores for an idea of the costs for material and other necessities. After doing the research you may decide that the task is too large for you. In any case, you now know how much the job will set you back financially.
Look at setting yourself a timetable for completion of your project. Most projects will end up requiring at least twice as much time as you anticipate. Make allowances for setbacks, for delayed deliveries, for extra work you encounter along the way to completing your original project.
Is this a DIY project?
Be realistic about your do it your self skills. If the undertaking is beyond your abilities, seek professional help. Maybe you need a plumber or an electrician. Are you qualified to handle any unforeseen problems which could develop? Do you know what those potential difficulties are? If you planned ahead, you should have an idea of where you might need to seek assistance for completing some part of your home improvement project. For example, if you are remodeling your kitchen and you are qualified to put in the cabinets, but you cannot rewire the electrical lines. Then you would plan for an electrician to come in and complete this aspect of the job. Also, some cities or counties require professionals to do some types of work. For example, in the Fort Lauderdale area, a homeowner may replace the roof, but only the pitched part. If you have any part of your roof that is flat, it must be repaired only by a licensed professional. This is another aspect where doing your homework can save you time and money in the long run.
Should you hire a professional?
If you do decide that your home improvement job is beyond your abilities or if the job will require a professional, then investigate thoroughly. The news is full of stories of people being scammed by unethical contractors or just folks pretending to be a contractor. Get some recommendations from your family and friends. This is also where those bids you obtained will come in handy. Be wary of those bids that are extremely high or extremely low. Chances are that you are either paying too much or perhaps you will get what you paid for in the case of a lowball figure. Ask for references from the contractor.
Do you need a building permit?
You will need to check with your city or county to obtain any required permits depending on the type of work. Find out what work your city requires a professional to complete. Find out about requirements for zoning. Some work will be governed by zoning or setback restrictions. This aspect of home improvement can take some time. Apply in advance of the job so that you have the permit before your projected date to begin the project.
Some final notes
So, you have answered all of the questions and you have done all of your homework. Now you are ready and eager to start your project. Here are some final considerations to help the job go smoothly.
Gather the necessary tools and materials.
Assemble all of the necessary materials and tools that you will use ahead of time. Check and double-check to see that you have everything that the job requires. There is nothing more frustrating or time consuming than getting into the project and then to have to stop and run to the hardware store because you ran out of finish nails or your tool kit is missing a saw blade that you need. Some of the tools you may require include: miter saw, drill, nailer, or a router. Have your materials and fixtures nearby or schedule delivery to coincide with your projected date to begin work.
Coordinate the project.
If you are tearing off a roof, order the dumpster ahead of time. Meet with contractors and other professionals as required, for any larger jobs. Schedule deliveries to coordinate with contractors scheduled. It can be a real juggling act for the homeowner.
Take frequent breaks from the job as needed, especially if you find yourself becoming overwhelmed. Donít think of restrictions as hindrances. Consider them helpful in sorting out all of the seemingly limitless possibilities for your home improvement task. Obtain financing ahead of time. You do not want to have everything ready to go with no means of paying for it. Consider the design elements of your home or project. Also consider help with lifting heavy objects. If you physically injure yourself, your job will be postponed until you have recovered. Just something to keep in mind.
You have plenty to consider regarding your DIY project. Remember, this can be fun, if you are prepared. Always remember the end result. Since you have planned for problems all along the way, nothing should come out of left field to bowl you over. Revel in the sense of accomplishment when your project, no matter how large or how small, is completed. Good luck!
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