The satisfaction of tearing down warped drywall or expanding a too-tight closet is hard to top. But accomplishing a do-it-yourself (DIY) home improvement project on your own is a different story. It takes a lot of patience, a heavy dollop of motivation, and, most importantly, a solid game plan.
A lot can go haywire if you don’t plan and prep properly, from picking the wrong tools for the job to not ordering enough tile when you’re revamping your kitchen backsplash. (Trust us, we’ve been there.)
To help you avoid a total DIY disaster, we chatted with home improvement experts to get their best tips on carrying out a smooth home improvement project. Read on for their helpful hints—and get ready to take your space to the next level.
Move the Unwanted Out of the Way
Home renovations mean caked-on dust, piles of debris, and a lot of trip hazards. Top that with a cluttered work zone; you’ve got a recipe for injury.
The first step in preparing for any home improvement project is to clear the area of as much clutter as possible. It includes removing furniture, knick-knacks, pictures from the walls—anything that will get in the way or become a potential safety hazard.
But where to store all that stuff? The perfect place to keep all your valuables safe is in a storage unit in your region. For instance, if you are in Grande Prairie, approach a storage facility to ensure your belongings are kept in a safe space. So, check out Grande Prairie storage units and carry out the DIY project without worry.
Ensure to label everything, so you know where it goes when moving back in.
Evaluate and Re-evaluate Your Plans
You might have a clear vision of your dream kitchen in your head, but that doesn’t mean it will fit in your space. And that new island might look good in the catalog, but it might be too big for your kitchen.
Before you start any demo, it’s important to take measurements of your space and create a floor plan. It will help you determine what changes you can and cannot make.
Budgeting is another no-brainer when it comes to home improvement projects. Determine the precise amount you can realistically afford to spend on your project, and then consider financing options. Home remodeling or repair loans are available for those who qualify.
You should also always have a contingency fund for unplanned expenses—you never know when you’ll run into an issue or make a mistake. Having to halt your project in the middle because you can’t afford to fix an error will only add more frustration (and costs) in the long run.
Load Your Arsenal with the Right Tools
You were able to get away with using a butter knife to remove the old caulk around your bathtub. But chances are, you will require more than that for your home improvement project. Make a list of all the tools and materials you’ll need for your project, and then purchase them or rent them ahead of time.
Some essentials to have on hand include:
- A toolbox
- An impact driver (if you’re working with screws)
- A saw (hand or power)
- Cordless clamps (great for holding pieces together while you work)
- Cordless vacuum (to clean up as you go)
Depending on the project you’re working on, you may also need more specialized tools. For example, if you’re tiling your bathroom, you’ll need a tile cutter. And if you’re painting your kitchen cabinets, you’ll need a sprayer.
Most importantly, research before you start the project to know which tools you need and how to use them.
Don’t Take the Media’s Word for It
Just because you watched it on HGTV doesn’t mean it will work in your home. That new design trend may look great on a TV show, but it might not be practical for your lifestyle. Similarly, gutting the entire bathroom for a new masterpiece all by yourself isn’t as simplistic as the pros make it look.
There’s always some level of misguidance when watching home improvement shows. The takeaway should be inspiration instead of a how-to guide. So, set realistic goals and accept what you can’t do before starting your project.
You’ll soon realize that hiring a professional for certain tasks is worth it to save yourself the headache—and, sometimes, the hospital bill. Anything that involves gas or plumbing should be left to the professionals. Also, don’t mess with your roof unless you want your insurance rates to go up.
Be Careful with Permits
You might get away with a little bit of a demo without a permit, but most home improvement projects will require one. Depending on the work you’re doing, you may need the following:
- Building permit – covers most structural work like adding a room or deck
- Electrical permit – crucial for any electrical work, including outlets and fixtures
- Plumbing permit – needed for anything that involves the gas lines or water lines
If you’re unsure whether you will need a permit, your best bet is to contact your city or county planning department. They’ll be able to tell you which permits are required for your project.
Not pulling the proper permits can result in some hefty fines—and could even get you arrested. Usually, a general contractor will take care of pulling the necessary permits for you. But it’s always good to know what’s going on.
Give Equal Importance to Your House’s Exterior
The house’s exterior is just as crucial as the inside—maybe even more so. That’s because it’s the first thing people see when they pull up to your house. If the outside is in disrepair, it can negatively impact your home’s curb appeal—and, ultimately, your home’s value.
So, don’t neglect your house’s exterior when planning your home improvement projects. If your siding is cracked or faded, replace it. If your gutters are falling off, fix them. And if your front door looks a little worse for wear, give it a fresh coat of paint.
Landscaping is also a significant way to improve your home’s curb appeal. Something as simple as trimming your hedges or planting some flowers can make a big difference.
Home renovations are exciting. The fresh coat of paint, the new countertops, and the updated appliances add to a brand-new home without the price tag. So, it’s natural (and justified) for you to be tempted to start your project by jumping right in and tearing everything out, but trust us—that’s not the best idea. Research all the aspects of your project, make a plan, gather your supplies, and then—and only then—should you start working. And always remember to take safety precautions.