6 Remodeling Tips Learned The Hard Way

Posted on August 23, 2012
Everyone, well, most everyone, wants to beautify their house. Especially in this market, more people are opting to remodel their current home rather than buy a new one. Remodeling can be just as expensive as buying a new house sometimes though if you don’t go about it the right way.

These are 6 mistakes that I made as a novice DIY’er:

1. Help from family and friends isn’t always the best way. If you do have family and friends help you, take these things into consideration first:
  • Only accept help from 1-2 people at a time. The larger the group the less productive, more instructions you have to give, etc.
  • Make sure it’s someone you trust and knows what they are doing. I once had an old roommate help me paint in exchange for rent money, but I ended up re-doing all of her work because she just didn’t care enough.
  • Food and beer can get expensive, especially if it’s a large project that lasts multiple days.
  • You are obligated to help them on their next project.
  • You will have to clean up after them.
2. The cheap vanity light was cheap for a reason. Even though this light fixture looked just as good as the light fixtures that were twice as much to my frugal eyes, it sucks. Let me tell you why- too many nooks and crannies you can’t reach to clean and it rusted within 5 years.  I realize there are expensive things that are hard to clean too, but the ‘cleanability’ factor should be considered when buying.
3. The awesome light fixture on super clearance is on clearance for a reason. Sometimes I justify the rule, you get what you pay for, by buying something that was super expensive but marked down a lot. If it was expensive at one point then people who bought it at that price got ripped off. Even if I’m getting ripped off too, at least I didn’t pay as much as they did. Right? In this case, I got ripped off. My kitchen light fixture uses 5 rare size light bulbs that are expensive and burn out quickly.
4. When buying overstock items you can’t return, measure 4 times, buy once. Although buying overstock from a contractor or overstock yard is a great idea, you should double the wise saying, measure twice, cut once. You should measure (measuring means hammered out all options and made sure you are sticking with that plan and know exactly where those materials fit into that plan) four times, buy once.
5. Keep the color cards of your paint colors. Write which sheen, brand of paint and how many gallons you used on those paint cards. File them away somewhere safe. I promise you will thank me for this when you have touch-ups to make and no paint left.
6. Have an idea of what you’re willing to pay for a contractor’s services.  Make this a fair amount based on market rates. I always try to find a friend, or referral from a friend, of a licensed contractor who would do my project as a side job, so I’m not paying the overhead fees of the company they work for. Often times they can get materials for much cheaper than retail too so that’s even more of a bonus. Research the average hourly wage for a worker in that industry i.e. the average residential electrician in Minnesota makes about $23/hr. Then I do the math to figure out what would be a fair price for me and a fair price for them.

I personally, think that you don’t always get what you pay for. I have found what you get back is determined by how much research you put in to finding it.

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