Tips to Ensure a Successful DIY Remodel

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When a homeowner decides to tackle a remodeling project, it’s understandable that he or she wants to start right away. However, failing to plan for the entire project often means disappointing results and spending much more than anticipated. Proper planning requires homeowners to create the following types of documentation:

  • Budget
  • Drawings
  • Materials list
  • Price quotes from several contractors
  • Proposed schedule

The next step is to ensure the availability of all items he or she wishes to use. It’s important to order them as soon as possible to prevent delays later if the items are no longer available. Homeowners should also plan to inspect all materials when they arrive.

Consider Getting a Professional Opinion

Even homeowners who intend to complete the project themselves can benefit from the expertise of a professional designer or home inspector. A design consultant can point out potential issues with the homeowner’s plan while a home inspector can uncover safety issues that he or she might have overlooked.

Estimate Time to Complete the Home Improvement Project

While it can be challenging to know exactly how long each part of the project will take, creating a rough estimate is essential. Most homeowners, especially those with little or no experience with home improvement projects, tend to underestimate project length. A good rule is to add 20 percent to his or her best estimate. It’s also a good idea to add 20 percent to the budget. The danger of a project taking much longer than expected is that the homeowner may give up on it halfway through.

Don’t Forget About Safety

Some homeowners get so excited about tackling the project that they forget to invest in safety gear. This should include steel-toed boots, a hard hat, goggles, and work gloves at a minimum. Additionally, it’s important to avoid wearing baggy clothes that could become stuck in moving parts or tools and to make sure the work area remains free of clutter.

Avoid Fines for Building Violations

Homeowners sometimes feel tempted to skip applying for permits to save money and because they figure no one will know about their home improvement project. While it might seem like unnecessary bureaucracy and expense, safety is the real reason behind the permit requirements. A city building inspector will make sure the project meets compliance and that the homeowner and his or her family remain safe. Here are three common violations that anyone considering a do-it-yourself project should avoid:

  • Incorrect venting in the bathroom: Building codes require bathroom fans to vent humid air outside through a vent pipe four inches in diameter. Failing to follow this code results in rotting wood and mold in the attic.
  • Handrails at the wrong degree: When installing a wall-side handrail, it must create a 90-degree turn and a dead-end leading to a wall. This helps to prevent purses and clothing from snagging on the handrail and causing a fall.
  • Out-of-code junction boxes: All junction boxes for electrical outlets must be accessible and visible with a minimum wire length of six inches inside of the box. The wires entering a box must be clamped to prevent it from moving.

Additionally, taking care of construction debris removal on a regular basis will help prevent unwanted attention from neighbors. An unsightly pile of old drywall and/or appliances in the front yard is a sure-fire way to generate calls to the local building department.

As long as homeowners take the time to plan their project and learn local building codes, everything should go just fine.

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