DIY vs. Professional: 3 Questions to Ask Before Any Project

DIY vs. Professional: 3 Questions to Ask Before Any Project

Changing out the leaky faucets in your master bathroom doesn’t look so hard. After a couple of hours watching tutorials on YouTube and a trip to the hardware store, you are feeling pretty confident about this do-it-yourself project. However, once you get started, you quickly realize that the faucets aren’t the only improvement needed in the bathroom—your plumbing looks pretty outdated, too. That’s a bit more than you planned for.

There is a big difference between sprucing up a room with a coat of paint and tearing down an entire wall, and that difference usually lies in skill, experience, knowledge, and training. How do you know if you can handle a project yourself or if you should hire a professional?

Some simple DIY projects that many people decide to take on themselves include:

  • Painting
  • Basic landscaping
  • Adding storage to a closet, laundry room, or mudroom
  • Installing new light fixtures
  • Resurfacing or painting cabinets

Other more complex projects that may require a professional include:

  • Tearing out carpet and installing floors
  • Tearing down walls
  • Exterior painting
  • Roof repair or replacement
  • Replacing heating, cooling, electrical, or plumbing systems
  • Installing new windows or doors

Even with this list as a basic guide, it can still be challenging to know if the next project on your list is perfect for your capable hands or better left to an experienced professional. Here are a few questions to ask to find the answer.

Do I have the confidence and knowledge to do this safely?

There is a first time for everything. Homeowners shouldn’t be afraid to try something new, but it’s important to understand what the project entails and how that lines up with your ability to carry out the project safely. Do your research. Read books, watch videos, and talk to professionals to see if you feel you can replace your kitchen counters on your own without causing any harm to yourself, those helping, and your kitchen. If you still have questions, bring in a contractor for a quote. Comparing the costs of a DIY or a professional job can help you make the right decision.

Do I have the time to commit to this project?

While you may have plenty of knowledge and experience, it’s equally important to know if you have the time. Will the bathroom sit there half painted for a month, or can you complete this project in a weekend? For the sanity of the rest of your household, it’s critical you know how long essential areas will be unavailable. If going the DIY route means water will need to be shut off or kitchen appliances unusable for an extended period of time, consider if hiring a professional will cut down on the time for those inconveniences.

Do I have the necessary equipment?

In the beginning, tackling a project yourself might seem like the less expensive option, but a lot of that depends on the tools and equipment you need to complete the job. If you have to purchase or rent tools, will that outweigh the costs you save by sidestepping a professional? If you do have to buy power tools, such as new drills, saws, sanders, routers, or impact drivers, do you know how to safely use them? Also, remember that equipment isn’t just about what you use—it’s also about what you wear. If you will be working with power tools or hazardous chemicals, you may need specific protective covering for your hands, eyes, and even lungs. These costs can quickly add up and often don’t make financial sense if you only plan on using these tools once.

Every DIY project is subjective to the person taking on the majority of the work. If you have the skills but lack the passion, there is a higher risk of the project going unfinished. If you are excited to take on a new project, you might burn out quickly if your skills aren’t up to the task. Flooring Masters & Professional Remodelers can help you achieve your vision. For a free consultation contact us today. However, if you have even the basic skills, enthusiasm, and a commitment to safety, planning and completing a simple DIY home improvement project can be very rewarding.

 

Article by Danny Knight, Fix it Dads
Photo by Pixabay

 

Posted in: Remodeling

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How to Conceal Evidence of a Pet When Selling Your Home

How to Conceal Evidence of a Pet When Selling Your Home

Proud dog owners believe that their pets are a part of their homes and, as such, are okay to show to prospective buyers along with the bathroom, kitchen, and the hardwood flooring. In truth, realtors routinely recommend that homeowners should do everything they can to conceal from buyers the fact that a dog or cat lives there. It’s an ironic fact that even other dog owners are apt to make negative assumptions about the condition of your home if they know you have a pet. It’s an attitude rooted in the desire to purchase a home that’s as free as possible of deep-seated problems that a buyer may have to resolve later on. It can be a real challenge to hide your pet’s presence, especially if he has left his mark on your home over the years. Often, it’s just a matter of knowing where to look and what to look for, and following a few simple guidelines for as long as your home is on the market.

Get rid of the evidence

As a pet owner, you no doubt have fought a long and difficult battle against the buildup of hair and stained carpeting over the years. This is the kind of unmistakable evidence that a potential buyer can’t help but notice, and which will almost certainly leave them with a negative impression of your property. Vacuum your floors and upholstered furniture carefully. Check along your baseboards for accumulations of hair and pet dander. If you have hardwood floors, make sure you haven’t missed any scratches that need to be sanded out. And consider having the carpeting and upholstery professionally cleaned to get rid of any stains left behind by dog or cat urine. Get rid of any furniture your cat has used as a scratching post.

Improve your air quality

If you’ve had dogs or cats for any length of time, anyone who comes into your home for the first time will notice the unmistakable smell they leave behind. A litter box gives off a distinctive smell that can be very hard to mask, as is cigarette smoke. Realtors identify strong smells as a leading reason why buyers walk away from a house, so spend some time deodorizing before you begin showing your home. Open the windows and doors to freshen things up with some natural air flow, and consider having your carpeting (a major source of bad odors) professionally cleaned. If there are still lingering odors, there are home remedies you can try. For example, vinegar and water make an effective spray cleaner. Try laying out a bowl of vinegar overnight or some coffee beans, which are excellent at absorbing odors.

Photographic evidence

Be careful to remove the pictures of your dog. Pictures will undermine any work you’ve done to conceal your pet’s presence, as will any pictures you’ve left up on your Facebook page, so don’t forget the “virtual” evidence as well.

A little time away

Once you’ve removed evidence of your pet inside and outside of your home, you’ll need to remove him altogether while showing your house to buyers. If you don’t have a friend or family member who can watch him for a while, consider a dog boarder or hire a dog walker or sitter, who can keep your pet safe and entertained.

Staging a home for prospective buyers is all about paying careful attention to detail. And when you’re encouraging someone to purchase your house, pets are a major detail. Make sure you’ve removed all the evidence—especially your pet—when showing your home.

When all else fails

Contact Flooring Masters & Professional Remodelers to help you inexpensively resolve your problem.

 

by Paul Denikin with DadKnowsDIY where he offers advice on home repair and tips for home management.
Courtesy of Pixabay

Posted in: Remodeling, Wood Flooring

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Home Improvement Projects

Home Improvement Projects

Projects that Provide the Most Bang for Your Buck

Sometimes it’s hard to decide what home improvement projects are your best investments.  Ideally, you not only want to add to the enjoyment of your home but also to your home’s value.  Here are some tips to help you make the best choices.

Kitchens and bathrooms

If you’re looking for a “sure thing” to get a good return on your investment, HGTV says that kitchen and bathroom remodels are your best bet.  In top housing markets, sellers are often able to recoup more than 100 percent of their investments.  When deciding on kitchen style, opt for natural floorings such as stone or wood, stone countertops, traditional wood cabinets, and appliances with a commercial appearance.  In the bath, installing a walk-in shower is the current trend over a jetted tub, offering a quicker cleanse to meet our culture’s on-the-go lifestyle.

Facelift

No matter how much you invest in the interior of your home, if potential buyers aren’t attracted to the exterior, you won’t get them through the door to see your great upgrades.  Choose to lift your curb appeal with a look that is inviting; adding a front porch or replacing your old siding can boost your home’s allure.

Improved efficiency

Some professionals advise energy-efficiency as a primary attraction for many buyers, especially younger ones.  Improved windows and better insulation can be a worthwhile investment in your home’s market value. Not to mention that these types of improvements can also show up as saved money on your utility bills.

Useful space

Adding a room is another great investment.  You’ll find it’s especially important if your home is short on bathrooms; for example, homes with four bedrooms and only one bath can reap big benefits with an added bathroom.  Adding general square footage to the home with anything from a sunroom, craft room or exercise room can boost a home’s value nicely, or you might consider renovating an attic into a home office or guest bedroom.  This Old House suggests opening up existing floor space to make a home more attractive; removing a kitchen island or non-load bearing wall to brighten space and enhance the flow of your home can be a great investment.

When making big changes, US News and World Report notes it’s important that your new space works well with the rest of the home.  Adding a room with a sleek, modern feel, trimmed in metal and with broad expanses of glass to take in a view can actually lower the value of a home built in a colonial style.  Remember to keep the overall look of the home in mind when making your decisions.

Maintenance concerns

It’s important to understand that most potential homebuyers will be more enticed by homes that are “move-in ready,” even if some of those nicely functioning rooms have a dated appearance.  For example, a roof that’s in dire need of replacement should take priority over upgrading a working but unattractive bathroom.

If you’re needing to get that roof into shape, it’s important to note that scammers abound in the roof repair business.  As explained by Angie’s List, “Fraudulent roofing contractors prey on vulnerable homeowners and have become increasingly bold in their tactics.”  Beware of contractors who claim to need a down payment up front, as they may take your money and run, or contractors that don’t provide firm pricing.  Some scammers even drop by after storms, claiming damage to roofs in your area from wind or hail.  Another tactic used by scammers is visiting homes door-to-door and offering a “free roof inspection,” then providing fraudulent photos of roofs or other misleading information to unsuspecting homeowners.  Beware of pushy, high-pressure salesmen, and talk with your local building department before hiring any roofers.  Good contractors should be able to provide licensing information, references, and will usually have an office you can visit.

Good choices mean improved value

See your home through the eyes of potential buyers and make upgrades that will boost your home’s appeal.  Put maintenance ahead of cosmetic improvements, and consider boosting energy efficiency.  By making good choices, investing in your home will mean getting the best value from your dollars.

 

Seth Murphy started PapaDIY to help others make their home DIY projects a success.
Image courtesy of Pixabay 

Posted in: Remodeling

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Should You DIY or Hire a Pro?

Should You DIY or Hire a Pro?

How to Decide if You Should DIY or Hire a Professional for Your Home Remodeling and Improvement Projects

When assessing common home remodeling and improvement projects to determine if you should DIY or hire a professional, you should first consider the safety of choosing to DIY. Even if you think you understand how to tackle the project, some projects are simply unsafe for homeowners to handle. Also, consider which option is more cost-effective, which will depend on the type and complexity of the project, as well as your level of skill and available time to work on the project.

Skip DIYing Jobs that Require a Permit

If a remodeling project requires a special permit or building code compliance, experts advise bringing in a professional instead of attempting to DIY because it typically means safety is an issue and training is required. “Once you’re changing the footprint of a house, updating wiring, and adding fences (because municipalities usually have height restrictions), you need a permit—which means you should probably call a contractor pronto,” says Realtor.com. Also, some repair projects, such as HVAC, can sometimes require special licenses.

Don’t think you can skip getting a permit if you DIY. For starters, if an inspector sees you working on the project, or is notified by a neighbor, he or she could halt your project. Also, any unpermitted work must be disclosed when selling, which can make buyers wary of purchasing the home and cause some banks to refuse to approve the buyers’ financing.

Got Skills?

Even if you have some plumbing, electrical, and carpentry skills, certain home projects are best handled by professionals. For example, some plumbing jobs can result in expensive home damage or serious injury if improperly performed, and there’s serious room for mistakes. Replacing a bathtub and pipe replacement are jobs that seem less complicated than they really are. Mistakes can cost you time and money. Leaks or bursts can cause water damage, and even a small mistake can ruin the pipe you buy. If you make mistake at any point, you have to start over from the beginning. A professional will charge around $2,500 to $3,500 to remove your old tub, install the one, and handle any plumbing issues.

In about two days, you can install your own kitchen backsplash for around $100 to $500, so it doesn’t make sense to pay an additional $300 to $800 to hire a professional. However, you shouldn’t attempt to DIY an entire kitchen remodel. According to HomeAdvisor, the average price for a kitchen remodel is approximately $22,000. Not only does the remodel often involve plumbing, but also cabinets, countertops, sinks, and appliances are expensive; a mistake that damages any of these can lead to costly replacements or repairs. Also, having an eye for design can take the remodel from acceptable in to incredible.

Installing hardwood floors is another project that should be left to professionals. This is less of a safety issue and more of a cost issue. Hardwood costs $3 to $8 per square foot for materials, so a mistake during installation can be costly. Similarly, installing ceramic tile can have costly mistakes if DIYed and a professional can handle common issues like design, corners, room transitions, and uneven subfloors. Because installing replacement windows has expensive materials and a large room for error, it should also be left to the pros.

Of course, there are plenty of remodeling projects that homeowners can tackle on their own. For example, many homeowners successfully handle painting their home’s interiors. Painting 1,500 square foot costs about $200 to $600 if you DIY, compared to $970 to $2,400 for professional work. Many homeowners can also handle installing vinyl or linoleum flooring. A 10×10 room costs roughly $200 to $500, while a professional can add on $300 to $400 more. Adding a wood deck can be a great DIY project for someone with a few carpentry skills, costing $500 to $1,000 for a 10×12 deck. A pro may charge between $1,500 and $1,900.

When deciding if you should DIY or hire professional, consider the cost of materials and the skill level and time need to complete the project properly. Remember to “choose caution over cost,” says Investopedia. If you hire a professional, be sure to get more than one estimate. Once you have researched your options, you can feel comfortable knowing that you made a sound investment in your home.

 

Article by: Paul Denikin. Dad Knows DIY
Photo Credit: shadowfireartsPixabay

Posted in: Remodeling, Tile, Wood Flooring

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Is Your Home Ready for Winter? Take the Steps to Make Sure

Is Your Home Ready for Winter? Take the Steps to Make Sure

Photo by Christopher Harris at Unsplash

 

When the leaves start to turn and the air gets cooler, we love to revel in the crisp, cool air and pull our warm sweaters out of storage. But with that change comes a few simple chores to make sure your home is ready for the winter.

A winter checklist of chores doesn’t have to be long and oppressive. There are just a few things that need to be done to ensure your home makes it through winter unscathed and you stay safe and cozy inside.

  • Check your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. More than one-third of fire deaths are in homes without smoke detectors — they save lives. Make sure you replace them every 10 years. Take the detector off of its mount and check the date of manufacture. If it’s been 10 years or more, replace it.
  • Get your chimney inspected or swept. Chimney sweeps do more than just sing and dance in old musicals. Modern chimney sweeps make sure your wood-burning fireplace or stove is safe to use. If you don’t keep it clean, you can get a buildup of creosote, which is very flammable and can cause a fire. Chimney fires can get to 2,000 degrees inside, which can melt the mortar between bricks. While he’s inspecting, ask him to check if you need a cap, too. A chimney cap will keep birds and other wildlife and debris out of your chimney.
  • Warm up your pipes. Not like a singer does, but more like what a plumber does. Your water pipes should mostly be in a heated area of the home. But you may have a few that are in crawl spaces or walls of your home that don’t get heat. If so, these pipes should be insulated. Check to make sure the insulation hasn’t worn off or torn. Without insulation, your pipes could freeze and burst, causing a huge, expensive headache for you during the coldest time of year. If you go out of town, keep your heat at 55 degrees or above, and on the coldest nights, open your cabinet drawers to allow heat to get to under-sink pipes. Disconnect your garden hose for the winter, and put on an insulated spigot cover to protect it from freezing.
  • Mind the gaps. Check your doors and windows to see if they need to be caulked. If you have drafts around your windows, caulking — which is fairly easy and inexpensive — could save you money on your heating bill. Adding weather stripping to your doors and moving parts of windows can help keep heating costs down, too. If you want to be extra-efficient, you can get window insulation kits, that are really just plastic that you put over the windows in the winter.
  • Clean your gutters, and inspect your roof. Gutters must be clean to move water away from the sides of your home. It’s not just annoying when water drips on you. It can cause serious damage to your roof and foundation. Also, having standing water near your home or in your gutters can invite mosquitoes to nest, bringing potential mosquito-borne disease to your family. Hire a pro to do this chore. It might seem easy, but getting up on a tall ladder can be dangerous. This is also a good time to inspect your roof for lost or loose shingles: Having your roof repaired is much cheaper than having it replaced.

It seems like a lot of work, but it really isn’t. A few preventive measures now will help your home run more efficiently and prevent disaster down the road.

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