What to Avoid When Completing a DIY Renovation

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In the age of renovation TV shows, there aren’t many homeowners who haven’t (at some point) seriously considered starting a DIY project. After all, it looks so fun and easy on television. You’ve got some great ideas, and you’re pretty sure you can pick up just about everything you’ll need second hand…But the truth is, if you don’t have experience in DIY renovations, then you are likely to end up making some common (and costly!) errors. This is where the importance of professional Foundation Inspection Services cannot be overstated. Before you start knocking down walls or ripping out cabinets, having your home’s foundation thoroughly inspected by a certified professional can save you from unforeseen complications down the road. Foundation issues, if not identified and addressed early on, can lead to significant structural damage, rendering all your hard work and investment futile. A comprehensive foundation inspection gives you the peace of mind that your home is stable and secure, creating a safe starting point for any renovation projects.

A DIY renovation that is systematically planned, well thought out, and executed with care can be a success; just make sure you avoid the following 7 mistakes:

Not consulting a Structural Engineer: Oftentimes, when you make changes to your house, it has an impact on the structure of the home. Be sure to reach out to your local structural Engineer to gather information about whether or not your project should be looked at first by an Engineer. We have been called on many projects where the homeowner did not do this, trusted the advice from a contractor, and ended up in a pretty nasty situation. It never hurts to double-check before beginning the work.

Overspending on little-used rooms: You may be dreaming of a new bedroom and an updated office, but if you’re trying to add resale value to your home, then it would be a mistake to spend your entire renovation budget on rooms that aren’t considered to be key aspects of the home. A prospective buyer will consider a newly renovated kitchen as a big plus, but may not even notice the new carpet and feature wall in the second bedroom.

Compromising on the wrong things: During a renovation it is not uncommon to find an appliance or fixture that suddenly becomes a “must have” item. If this can be accommodated in the budget, then there’s no harm done, and the item could become a nice feature for that particular room. The risk is when you invest too much in a feature and then compensate by skimping on important things. Homeowners often think they’re cleverly saving money by swapping out hardwood floors for laminate, but the truth is they may actually be devaluing the end result.

Skipping the bathroom: Nothing dates a house quite like an old bathroom; whether it’s the cheap plastic fixtures, the tiles that were popular 20 years ago or the patterned shower curtain, bathrooms proudly proclaim their age. Many people will avoid renovating their bathroom because they assume it will be too expensive, but with a little forethought you can give a bathroom a modern face-lift without doing anything too drastic. A fresh coat of paint, a few new fixtures, and a shower screen to replace the saggy curtain will do wonders without costing the earth.

Ignoring the existing style: If the architecture of your home is French Provincial, then re-doing the interior in an ultra-modern style may not produce the greatest results. You don’t have to be tied to the original design, but respecting the “bones” of the house will prevent your finished renovation from resembling a clashing hodgepodge of decors. If you’re not quite sure how to do this, then it may be worthwhile consulting with an expert before you get started.

Choosing the wrong contractor: In a DIY renovation, most contractors are hired on a whim. Sometimes this works out well, but to ensure you are getting the right person for the job it pays to shop around. Do research, ask friends and colleagues for referrals, and get multiple quotes that you can compare. You need to find someone who is qualified and capable of doing the work within the budget that you have set. We have great relationships with multiple contractors that we’ve worked with for years now. We would be happy to point you in the right direction depending on your project.

Failing to allow for budget blowouts: Anyone who has ever watched DIY reality shows should know that projects can easily go over budget. Allowing 15-20% for unavoidable overages will prevent your project from becoming a costly nightmare if there is a delay. Don’t tell your contractors or suppliers that you have allowed for extra and be sure to push hard for the original budget to be respected. But having a little extra set aside can minimize stress if things go awry.

Picture of Scott Zurn, P.E.

Scott Zurn, P.E.

Founder and CEO of Level Engineering & Level Design Partners. With more than 4 decades of experience, Scott Zurn has contributed to all aspects of the building industry, serving both public and private sectors. He’s achieved tremendous success in commercial and residential markets, held leadership roles such as building official, city engineer, and director for local governments, and accomplished hundreds of millions of dollars in successful commercial building and civil infrastructure as a designer, project manager, and leader. As the Founder of the Level brand, Scott is dedicated to ensuring the entrepreneurial success of design professionals, as well as creating positive environmental impacts through design work. Read Scott’s full bio here.

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