Building Renovation

Tackling a Building Renovation Job

You bought a house that looks like a time capsule for the 1980's-apple green paint, mosaic-tiles bathrooms and red wall to wall carpeting, should you renovate?  The answer is a resounding yes.  But what changes should you tackle on your own and what jobs are better left to the professionals or the home renovation experts?  Here are tips on tackling remodelling jobs no matter how big or how humble.

Which renovation jobs can a homeowner take on without too much difficulty?

It really depends on your skill level.  Knowing how to do simple home repairs and renovations gives you control over your own life and of course, finances.  If you're willing to put in the time to do a quality job, just about everyone and anyone can improve the look of their home with some fresh paint or new wall paper, for example.  If you have enough carpentry skills, you can easily replace rotting moulding around your door.  With a bit of knowledge and the internet as guide, you can replace some old bathroom fixtures. Another type of renovation job that can be accomplished with not so much difficulty and that would require you only sweat and dirt is landscaping.  Though most home owners fail to notice its importance, landscaping is one of the few renovations that can remarkably increase the value of your home.  You should consider landscaping as another important renovation project that would need planning and a bit of budget.

Which renovation jobs are better left to the professionals?

Any job that is potentially dangerous, hazardous or involves meeting building codes should be done by an expert.  Not just an expert but a licensed expert.  That would include electrical, plumbing, heating, waterproofing and roofing work.  In addition, any work that has to do with vital structural elements, such as load bearing walls and beams, should be done by an expert or a professional licensed for the job.

Building Renovations skill levels

One of the best ways to gain more expertise is to specialize in an area of renovation that is quite easy say, painting and carpentry.   Focusing on one facet will allow you to practice and build upon your experience. In due time you could acquire additional skills to help you become a better DIY'er. You can then eventually purchase better tools to practice on those skills.  If you are a novice, you should start on a simple renovation project.  Painting a large room, changing the kitchen cabinets' handles and hinges or building a deck, for example, requires fairly average carpentry and painting skills. Going through that process will help you learn and further acquire incredible amount of know-how about remodelling. 

Also, many of the common rip-offs can be avoided if you know something about simple repairs and renovations.  Even if you choose to hire people to perform certain repair or renovation works, wouldn't it be great to know whether or not they are doing the jobs properly and you're getting your money's worth?

With any DIY, remember to always follow the manufacturer's instructions when using any product, even if you have used it in the past.  Manufacturers now provide user-friendly instructions.  When working with paint and quick-drying plaster like materials, always work in a well-ventilated room.  Keep windows and doors open.  Wear a mask if you have to.  Never take lightly the clean up and disposal of chemicals, paint and other materials according to manufacturer's recommendations.

What are some of the common mistakes that DIY remodelers run into?

Self-confessed do-it-yourself-ers generally miscalculate the time it's going to take to finish the project.  When it comes to budget, DIY remodelers fail to allow for a contingency of at least 10 percent to cover unforeseen problems.  Unexpected difficulties are often associated especially with renovations for older homes and you need to allow time and money to resolve them.  DIY'ers also tend to underestimate the importance of a design professional.  Remodelling requires design process.  A designer can not only help you achieve and create the home you want, but also have the forethought to express the details of the process from the structural to aesthetic.

Another mistake is a tendency to take the lowest bid from a contractor, which may ultimately end up costing the home owner more in the end.  It's advisable to seek bids from a number of contractors, study and compare them thoughtfully.  To get good bids, you will need to provide each of them complete and detailed requirements of the renovation or project so that everybody is bidding on exactly the same project.  The more details you can provide about the materials, finishes and other conditions before asking for bids, the easier it will be to choose a contractor. 

How can renovation mistakes be avoided?

Having a great set of detailed plans will ensure that the renovation is done in the correct sequence and that the work goes smoothly.  Investing a substantial amount of time in the planning phase can potentially save between 20 to 30 percent in the overall cost of your remodelling.

Remodelling can be very expensive.  Again you will have to deal with people who are either honest or incompetent or both.  To avoid problems, you should decide what you want and be specific when you talk to your contractor.  Don't leave him guessing.  Even if he is honest, you may not get exactly what you want.  If you don't tell him you want quality materials, he may think you want to get by as cheaply as possible with low grade materials.  On the other hand, you want quality and you could end up with a larger bill than you had anticipated.  Whatever the requirements, specific instructions about what you want done, how you want it done, and what kind of materials and finishes you want could forestall or prevent future problems.