Opting to go DIY when remodeling your home has a lot of benefits. For one, you’ll save a lot of money by being able to source your own materials, use your own tools and not have to pay for laborers’ wages. Secondly, being able to see the result and knowing that it’s your own work can also provide a great sense of satisfaction.
The downside of going DIY is of course that it’s more difficult and time-consuming. A lot can go wrong. However, by knowing a few of the major Dos and Don’ts you may be able to minimize such errors and be left with a successful finished renovation. Here are some of those major Dos and Don’ts…
DON’T forget to warn people beforehand
Making renovations to your home may involve having to check with a few people first. Firstly, if you’re creating an extension, you’ll need to make sure that you have planning permission. When it comes to old and protected buildings or protected natural areas, a planning committee may disallow you from doing such construction. There are also many legal requirements that need to be met.
You should also check with your neighbors as you don’t want them complaining for blocking sunlight to your garden or invading on their privacy. Also notify your home insurance provider as it’s often a policy to notify these companies of any changes made to your home. Fail to let them know and they may refuse a future claim.
DO consider a loan
Few people can outright afford to do a renovation, even when DIYing it. Taking out a loan can enable you to get the renovation done all at once rather than having to save up a couple weeks for plaster and then another few weeks for paint. Calculate a clear budget and triple check it before taking out a loan so that you know you’re borrowing enough.
If you’re adding insulation or another eco-friendly feature to your home, you should also look into grants that may be available either by the council or government led. Your mortgage provider may also be able to provide a loan at a cheaper rate than other lenders. You can even pay the whole thing on credit card.
DO make sure you have the right tools
You should do a checklist of all the tools you need beforehand and have them all ordered and arrived before commencing on your DIY project. Test out tools first to check that they work such as old drills or electric saws. This will save you scrambling around later for a certain size screw or another pot of paint.
When it comes to power tools, you can often save money by hitting the sales (e.g. Black Friday, the January Sales, the lead up to Father’s Day). You may also be able to find some tools and materials second hand online. This might include anything from an unwanted birthday gift in the form of a brand new toolbox, to a half-full pot of magnolia paint from someone else’s DIY adventures.
Buying lots of tools from the same brand can also be a cost-efficient strategy. Electronic tools of the same brand are likely to all use the same batteries and charger. Combo-kits may be able to save you money if you need to buy lots of tools at once, but you may end up with lots of tools you didn’t want too.
DO consider hiring tools
Some heavy machinery or specialist tools may cost too much to buy and you may never get use out of them again. You can cut costs by using a rental company. Such rental companies are often able to supply top-end tools and are well maintained. Many handyman services will save costs by using rental companies. Be aware that some big machinery may require a license to operate.
DON’T start without measuring everything first
Carefully measuring everything out is essential to any construction project. Your local planning committee may ask to see a design with full measurements before you can get started, so that they know the exact scope and scale of your renovation. Use a tape measure to record these measurements and write them all down somewhere. Remember that you may have to overcompensate for certain materials. Decking or wooden flooring can swell in the heat and so you may need to leave a little room to expand so that the wood doesn’t warp. The weight of materials is also important to consider, especially if you’re making renovations to an upper level space such as a loft.
DO consider cheap substitute materials
You can often give off a sense of luxury, whilst getting away with cheap imitation materials. Mahogany for example is a popular but expensive wood that many opt for, but if you’re simply wanting the dark reddy brown hue, a wood such as Ipe might have the exact same aesthetic impact. There are also many artificial substitutes to stone such as marble and granite that could make for a much cheaper but equally classy countertop. Always thoroughly research these materials to make sure that they provide the same practical qualities. In most cases, these imitations can be just as sturdy but simply cost less for not being the real deal.
DON’T touch gas and electrics
There are some jobs that are best avoided unless you’re professionally qualified to do them. This is especially the case with gas and electrics. Faulty piping could result in a gas leak, causing carbon monoxide poisoning or a nasty fire. Faulty electrics meanwhile could result in electrocution or similarly a fire. There’s a lot of health and safety requirements that now need to be met. Not following them could stop you from being able to sell your home as it may be deemed ‘unliveable’.
DON’T knock down walls yourself
There’s a lot more to knocking down a wall than swinging a sledgehammer. A wall may have piping and electrics running through it, it may be weight-bearing or it may provide some other form of structural integrity. Consequently, this too is a job better placed in the hands of a professional. A construction company may recommend that instead of knocking an entire wall out that you create a cut-out. This can be much better suited when making two rooms open plan.
DO your own painting
One job that isn’t particularly risky or dangerous is painting, suitable for even the most inexperienced of DIYers. Whilst there are things that can go wrong, they’re easier to fix up and mask over than other renovation mishaps.
…But DON’T paint first
That said, painting should be a job left until the very end when all other jobs are completed. You don’t want to have your wonderful paint job ruined by builder’s dust. Furniture can be moved or covered up during the building and drilling process, but walls are a little harder to cover up.
DON’T forget about the clean up
Many keen renovators will forget to budget for the cleaning up process. Rubble from walls that have been knocked down, gutted-out kitchen cabinets and removed floorboards will all need to be dumped somewhere. You may need to hire a skip, which may mean looking into a rubbish collection service. Chemicals may need to be disposed of elsewhere.
You then have the builder’s clean to look forward to – when hiring professional handymen they may include this in their service, but when you’re DIYing it the responsibility lies in your hands. This involves cleaning every nook and cranny of masonry dust from windows to tops of cabinets.
Also consider the clothing that you’re going to wear whilst DIYing. You may get coated in paint and plaster, in which case casual clothes aren’t recommended. Wear your least favorite clothes – something that you can chuck away to avoid having to pay a visit to the dry cleaners.
Do recycle waste materials
It’s likely you’ll remove bits and pieces from your property that could be re-used in a new home. This might include an old sink or a kitchen cabinet. Look into recycling services rather than heading straight to the dump – you could make some money by selling your scrap. General rubble may be better suited to the skip, but you shouldn’t be throwing away a perfectly intact wooden kitchen countertop.