23 Tips For Getting Started on Home Projects
The devil is in the details and, if you're prepared, you can make home projects go much smoother.
Know Your End Goal
Have a Budget
Consult the Calendar
If you’re hoping for a brand new home for a particular event or holiday, make sure you look at your end date and work your way backward. Be sure to pencil in a few weeks to a month at the end for wiggle-room in case there are delays on the way to avoid disappointment.
Do Your Research
Know Your Limits
DIY renos are a great way to save money, have a sense of accomplishment, and involve the entire family, but they can turn disastrous if you don’t know what you’re doing. Know which tasks you can safely tackle, and which should be handled like the pros, like a potentially load-bearing wall, asbestos or lead paint.
If you’re feeling unsure, here’s how to find a good contractor to help.
Ask For References
Any good contractor will have no problem providing references, and copies of liability insurance before a job begins. Don’t rely solely on client testimonials, search out actual customers that can give you a firsthand account and answer any questions you may have. For any project, ask to see before and after images of a contractor’s prior work, and most importantly—trust your gut and know which questions to ask.
To make any house remodel as simple as possible, declutter, pack up or move any items in the renovation zone. For a whole-home remodel, consider renting an offsite locker or onsite storage pod to keep all your belongings secure and clean during the process.
Consider Your Routine
If you’re an experienced DIYer, you are likely good at working around the disruptions of a house remodel. However, if you’ve hired a contractor for any part of the job, be sure to be clear about your daily routine, and work with the contractor to come up with start and end times that cause the least disruption in your family’s day. After all, no one wants to encounter tradespeople while you’re still in your bathrobe.
Establish Mission Control
There’s nothing more frustrating than being in the middle of a job when you can’t find the tool you need. Before you begin your remodel, reserve an area of your home to act as mission control to keep all your tools, materials, manuals and checklists in one place.
Protect the Kids
A house remodel is a perfect way to get the kids involved in DIY, but for very little ones it can be dangerous too. Be sure to install child safety gates, electrical safety covers and store sharp tools well out of the way of curious tots, especially on off-hours where there may not be adequate supervision in the remodel zone.
Don’t Forget the Pets
The temporary chaos of a home under renovation can be stressful at the best of times for the human occupants of the house, let alone the four-legged family members. When doing a house remodel, consider the safety and care of your pets, which could mean having a family member or friend pet-sit while the bulk of the work is getting done. This is especially true when the doors will often be open to bring tools and materials in and out.
Plan For Outages
If your home is lacking plumbing shut-off valves in the area you are working on, you may have to shut the water off at the main valve, leaving your home without access to running water. Plan ahead and place containers of water in the fridge for drinking, on the counter for cooking and have buckets of water available to flush the toilet. An easy way to do this is to fill the bathtub with water and place a bucket nearby to pour into the toilet bowl.
Make a Master List
To have the best chance of success, and to help in the budgeting process, make a master checklist of items you need, from administrative tasks like permits, right down to rollers for the paint. It’s helpful to separate the list by items you have, and items you need to purchase. In the case of tools, making a list can help you decide which tools you can rent to save on costs versus purchasing new.
You don’t have to be an engineer to create job drawings, and chances are you’ll require some form of drawing to obtain a permit for your house remodel. Be sure to note square footage, heights and widths of doors and windows, and current locations for any services like electrical, gas or water.
Plus: Add an Electrical Outlet
Plan a Reno-Free Zone
Before starting all the mess of a remodel, it’s a good plan to designate a renovation-free zone for your family to gather in semi-relaxation. Make sure you have everything you need in one place, such as a kettle or microwave, so you have one functional space to gather, eat or just unwind at the end of the day. For more relaxation ideas, check out our 8 Projects for Backyard Fun.
After a long day of renovating, it can be tempting to just turn the light off and leave the mess for tomorrow. Unfortunately, this can cause delays, lost tools and lost sanity along the way. Be sure to write in an ample amount of time in your renovation plan to tidy up at the end of the day. Your future self will thank you!
Book the Help
If you know a renovation is on the horizon, it’s time to call in favors from those handy family and friends. Give them ample time to arrange their schedule to help and provide plenty of reminders as the project approaches. (An offer of free food also helps!) If hiring a contractor, make sure you allow enough lead time to snag your desired timeline, otherwise you could be stuck waiting on them. Consider a message center to keep everyone informed as they come and go to make life easier on everyone.
Check the Weather
Even if you’re planning a spring or summer remodel, don’t bank on having gorgeous weather to do it. Be sure to check the long and short-term forecasts before beginning a job, and schedule jobs that require outside access, like spray painting or wood cutting on days that have the best outlook. Consider heat and cold on days you may have to cut power to your furnace or air conditioner for comfortable working conditions and be sure to stay alert to unexpected changes in the weather.
With these and other affordable home improvement tips, you’ll be on your way to a successful house remodel in no time!
Find a Deal
There are countless deals out there, it just takes some legwork to track them down. Luckily, there are some online tools that can help you find great deals.
Get the Right Apps
Check out the nine best apps for home improvement and remodeling projects that you should download to help get you started.