A do-it-yourself (DIY) home improvement project can bring ultimate satisfaction to the homeowner. Outdoor improvements add to a home’s curb appeal and can increase property values in the neighborhood. It can be difficult to know where to start or what home improvements add the most value to a home. A little homework before starting a remodeling project will certainly save a lot of headache; plus, a successful remodeling job will earn the homeowner extra money when it’s time to move on.
How to Start a Home Improvement or Landscape Project
Decide what job needs to be done first. Do-it-yourself workers should draw a picture of the desired outcome of the project. Other tips for starting a home remodeling project:
- The wise do-it-yourself builder knows his limits and asks for help when he needs it. Safety is a priority, so wear proper clothing (including shoes). Use sturdy work gloves, wear ear plugs (when using a jackhammer, for example), and wear a mask and safety goggles as needed.
- Calculate a budget that will cover at least one unexpected expense.
- Think through every detail of the job, including how to dispose of old materials and hazardous substances.
- Reuse and recycle anything that can be salvaged to save money and avoid waste.
- When adding trees and bushes to landscaping projects, allow for maximum growth. Consider children and pets when choosing plants.
- Know what tools to use for each step of the job and find out how much it will cost to rent any large equipment or tools that can’t be purchased or borrowed.
- Know the relevant state building codes and follow them to the letter.
- Get the required permit(s) for the job.
- Be prepared for building inspectors who are required to make sure certain stages of a building project are up to code.
- If a contractor is going to do the job (or part of the job), then ask to see a certificate of insurance, or else any damages incurred may not be covered. Check for complaints from the Better Business Bureau and/or ask for work references.
Indoor Home Improvement Projects that Add Value to a Home
There are excellent online information sites for the do-it-yourself home project. Be sure to turn off the gas and electricity before starting a major project. Cut walls carefully, checking for wires, a gas line, and water pipes. Kitchens and bathrooms continue to be at the top of the remodeling list:
Update the kitchen. Gutting the kitchen is costly, but yields a high return. Cosmetic changes – replacing the floor, adding stylish cabinet doors, adding bold new paint, and buying energy efficient appliances – can take the room from a ’60’s style into the twenty-first century. Large roomy kitchens are back in style. The kitchen is a focal point for most families and is one of the most important features to home buyers.
Remodel the bathroom. Again, gutting will be costly, but putting in new fixtures or a water-saving toilet makes good sense. Adding adjustable lighting, fresh paint or wallpaper, or a new floor can make a huge improvement when the budget is tight. Spa tubs are still popular, but the latest bath luxury is a decked-out shower spa featuring lots of space, multiple shower heads, water temperature control, plus exotic floor and wall tile.
Ideas for Outdoor Home Improvement
Outdoor projects add home value and curb appeal. Be sure to budget any heavy equipment or delivery fees when making a budget. Locate gas and water pipes before digging. What outdoor projects should a homeowner consider?
Create an outdoor living space. Check online, reality home shows, and local home improvement stores for ideas to suit any budget. Build an outdoor kitchen or den. Add furniture and a few popular amenities such as a weather-proof TV, a beverage bar, barbecue and dining area, waterfall, and a fire pit.
Spruce up the landscape. Curb appeal draws home buyers and adds value to the neighborhood. Invest in plants, shrubs and trees that grow well, and require minimal maintenance. Keep the grass trimmed and weed-free. Remove unsightly clutter. Repair a trellis, archway, or gazebo. Add attractive stone walkways and fix cracks in the driveway. Incidentally, buy plants (not annuals) at the end of the season. The variety may not be as big, but consumers can expect to pay cheaper prices.
Make cosmetic repairs to the house exterior. Pressure wash or paint the house. Fix shutters and replace broken windows. Clean out the gutters. Replace house numbers, put in a new mailbox, and repair the front porch. Add outdoor energy-efficient lighting. Add colorful potted plants to the porch or flower boxes to the windows. Make sure the doorbell is working or replace an old worn doorknocker. Replace screens, seal cracks and repair railings and steps.
The Limits of DIY Home & Landscape Remodeling
Get advice from experts. Take the guesswork out of home renovation or repair jobs that may present a challenge to the homeowner. It’s better to pay the price and get professional help for jobs too difficult. Plumbers and electricians are costly, but paying to correct an amateur’s mistakes – especially emergency repairs on the weekend – could ruin a budget.
Consider problems that might occur and know ahead of time who to call for help if needed. Costly setbacks aren’t limited to just electrical and plumbing mishaps. Think termites and carpenter ants. Mold, mildew and water damage are problems many remodeling homeowners discover when tearing out old walls or finishing a basement.
Doing the job right the first time means less aggravation. It also means avoiding building violations that could lead to costly repairs and delays when trying to sell the home in the future. Allow plenty of time to do the job, make sensible decisions, and keep the dollars in the homeowner’s wallet.