In this era of social media and reality TV, homeowners often attempt to tackle major remodeling projects on their own. These “Do It Yourselfers” discover inspiration and confidence on HGTV, Houzz or YouTube. Certain projects can appear relatively simple and fun during edited or vendor-sponsored programming. Plus, the idea of saving money by performing the work yourself is very appealing. However, if you don’t have extensive hands-on remodeling experience, the true reality is your DIY attempt could turn into a major financial and/or personal disaster. As Clint Eastwood once said in his iconic role as Dirty Harry, “A man’s got to know his limitations”…
Instead of Learning as You Go, Hire a Pro
Some home improvement projects require relatively less time and skill. And, the possibility of a mistake carries lower risk. For instance, although properly painting a room is not necessarily an easy task, only one trade is involved and bad outcomes include the wrong choice of color or sheen, uneven paint application, or a mess to clean up. While not fun to deal with, those problems are not nightmarish to correct.
On the other hand, even a minor kitchen or bath remodel is a completely different animal. Those projects typically require some combination of demo, electrical, plumbing, drywall, carpentry, countertop fabrication, tile setting, painting, and perhaps others. The craftsmanship involved takes years to learn and perfect, not minutes watching a video. In the case of electrical and plumbing, rookie mistakes can cause major damage to your home, now or in the future. Even worse, you can easily harm yourself or a family member. Professional contractors and master craftsmen know many subtle “tricks of trade,” labor knowledge acquired through their own trials and errors. They also know the best performing materials to use and client-friendly vendors from whom to purchase. Don’t recklessly and naively turn your house into a construction laboratory of learning…
Coordination is Key
Beyond the craftsmanship, effective project management is critical to the success of a remodeling project. You must know the proper sequence in which to perform numerous tasks. For example, do you know why cabinet box installation comes before flooring OR why countertops are installed before the backsplash OR for how long you must water test a shower pan before installing tile? If you don’t follow the proper sequence, the project will take more time and money to complete.
Professional contractors know not only the proper remodeling sequence but also how to coordinate different crews. If you’re trying to serve as your own general contractor by hiring individual subcontractors who’ve never worked together, you should expect time-consuming problems. Think of an attempt to herd cats…If that sounds like a fun challenge, then go for it. Just brace yourself for the likelihood of poor communication, no-shows, finger-pointing, a messy jobsite, and LOTS OF TIME SPENT ON THE PHONE! Instead, you could spend your time succeeding at your real job and enjoying free time by hiring a trustworthy general contractor.