In Part 1 I discussed the importance of obtaining proper permits, and choosing which work to do yourself and what to contract out when it comes to taking on a Do-It-Yourself renovation. Another step that is essential to starting the process is to gain as much knowledge as possible about each improvement item you intend take on. For instance, to do a typical kitchen renovation, it would be good to do some research on plumbing, electrical, proper kitchen layout, cabinet installation, lighting and flooring, just to start. There are countless books on each topic, and the library is a good resource for information, without paying $20 for each book at a home improvement or book store. I suggest checking them out, and keeping them throughout the project in order to use them as reference to check your work as you go to ensure you are on track throughout the project.
Next, come up with a detailed plan for what you want to do. This part of the process requires laying out your entire job. Some components of a good plan include a timeline of tasks, list of materials (including prices and suppliers), and detailed drawings. Your timeline should include every aspect of the project, from obtaining permits and demolition, to the installation of each system (framing, drywall, flooring, cabinets, etc.). I will go into depth on each of these items in later articles. Your plan should also include scale drawings of the current layout, and the proposed changes (these drawings will be required to obtain permits); the drawings don’t have to be professional, however, they must be accurate (graph paper is a great tool for accomplishing this) and complete. You will need to mark the location of any added outlets and light fixtures, as well as any major changes to the structure and/or layout of the room. Taking these plans to the building department will often get you a free plan review, and tons of helpful information about your intended project.
Finally, I want to cover choosing your materials. The old adage “you get what you pay for” is often true in this area. On one hand, if you go with bottom-dollar discount materials, you are often going to end up replacing items in a few years because of poor quality and durability. On the other hand, just because something at the boutique store is priced like it is gold-plated and made by magic elves doesn’t mean it is any more durable than the mid-range products. A good practice is to stay in that middle range of products for the best balance of quality and price. Additionally, if you are planning on selling your home in the near future, you should be careful not to over personalize your style and material choices. Potential buyers may be turned off by overly bold choices, making it harder to sell your home; therefore, it is usually best to stick to current trends, and use your room décor to personalize it.
There is a great deal of pride that can be taken in completing a DIY project, especially when others think it was done by a professional. Follow these steps and you will be well on your way to accomplishing just that.