Resources > Before you start that home project, consider safety, time and hidden costs

Before you start that home project, consider safety, time and hidden costs

We’ve enjoyed the Michigan summer and soon we will be spending more time indoors.  You’ve looked around and now have a long list of projects.  Home improvement projects can be tiring, messy and expensive.   You’ve carved out the time and money to tackle the next home project, but before you do, consider all the issues you may have to deal with…it may be better to bring in the professionals.

According to HUD and the U.S. Census Bureau, home owner do-it-yourself (DIY) projects accounted for 37 percent of all home remodeling projects performed nationwide from 2010-2011. While DIY projects look manageable at first glance, there are many points to consider when determining the “real” cost generated on a project.

“Remodeling can be complex and often times full of surprises, even for experts like our members,” said Paula DeHaan of p.a. dehaan llc and Home Builders Association of Greater Grand Rapids President. “DIY projects should be rewarding and fun, but if your DIY can’t be completed in the planned price range or your safety is at risk, leave the work in the hands of professional remodelers.”

Unfortunately, many people are hesitant to hire a handyman, because they have heard negative comments about how another handyman never showed up or let the client down. There are plenty of reliable handyman services that produce amazing results. Often the reputation of the majority of craftsmen is tainted by the shoddy work of a few inexperienced or dishonest people.

While you are pondering your next move consider these “Murphy’s Law” type observations about home improvement projects.

Tasks will take twice as much time and three times as much money as you expect.

Despite your best efforts to budget and estimate the project, tasks will typically take more time and money than even your projected worst-case scenario. There’s no way to budget for this. Just accept it because worrying about it wastes energy and fussing about it takes even more time.

Many of the products available to the average Do- It-Yourselfer, although designated by a name brand, are not always the same quality available to contractors. It is also important to verify the terms of the product warranty. Many warranties become void by improper installation.

You can trade time for money, and vice versa.

If you’re willing to spend a little more, your job will go a little faster. If budget is your bigger concern, you can eliminate shortcuts that often cost more money. A good example is using paint and primer in one, which can reduce your painting time by half, but will cost more than regular paint. You can save time … or you can save money. But not both.

“Friends” disappear when the hammers come out.

You know that buddy you helped move three times—the most recent being to a third-floor walk-up with a sleeper sofa? He’s suddenly busy the weekend you decide to start finishing your basement. If you need a hand (or a truck or a table saw), just ask.

You will also want to make sure those that don’t “have a prior commitment” know what they are doing. Without the proper training and preparation, many have landed in the emergency room. Unfamiliarity with new tools and techniques can lead to life-threatening accidents. A good rule of thumb for any home owner is to avoid projects that require a license or structural changes to walls, roofs and floors.

If someone else lived in your house before you … they did it wrong.

Unless you live in a brand-new home, there were prior homeowners. And trust us, they did it all wrong. Maybe they tossed layer after layer of cheap vinyl tile on the bedroom floor, and then put carpeting over all of it. Now, you must peel up four layers of flooring depicting the style of bygone eras to replace the subfloor, which rotted due to leaky pipes behind the wall. And, oh yeah, about that leak—the plumbing wasn’t soldered correctly, and they used the wrong pipes.

The end result may not always be what you expected, but that doesn’t mean it’s not functional and stylish!

With all these obstacles in our path, it’s a wonder any home renovations ever get completed! Don’t worry if the end result doesn’t look exactly like you or your significant other envisioned. If you like it, just go with the flow. You can always live with it a while and then decide to change it again. One good thing about home improvements is the more you do, the more you learn, and the faster the next project goes.

Of course, if your spa green color looks more like something you would rather not think about, you might want to run out to the home improvement store right away for new paint. Ask for some help choosing shades this time,

In the end a professional may cost a little more up front, but chances are improved that it will be done correctly and on time.  Troubleshooting unexpected issues often takes more time and expertise than originally planned. Hiring a professional will ensure that you have a contract with a completion date and that the remodeler will bring in whatever help is necessary to get the job finished on time.

The HBA has a complete list of builders that specialize in remodeling on our Find a Professional page.