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10 DIY Renovation Pitfalls to Avoid

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10 DIY Renovation Pitfalls to Avoid

By Kevin Stevens

You are a happy homeowner, but you could be happier. Why? That avocado kitchen remodel that the previous owner completed 30 years ago makes your morning coffee taste bad. You ask yourself, is this something I can do? Or do I need to bring in some professional help?

The top 10 mistakes that amateur do-it-yourselfers make, and how to avoid them:

1. Underestimating Project Complexity

Can I do this? This by far, is the first question you should ask yourself. The answer you give will dictate how well you are prepared for your project. The project needs to be looked at with a “global view” one that incorporates all of your skills, or the lack of, and the multitude of possibilities that the project may entail.

The scope of the project and your skill sets need to be aligned. Obviously, a bump-out kitchen remodel with all of its tasks is far more complex than a bathroom paint job, or installing a ceiling fan.

2. Unrealistic Budget

Unless you are very wealthy, you’ll probably have a budget in mind. To ensure that potential unknowns are covered before work begins, a 15-20 percent budget surplus will ensure that you can complete the project without having to scramble near the end if things get more complicated than you first planned.

3. We didn’t plan for that.

If you are working in an older home, there may be some physical damage that may need to be fixed as part of the project. One thing that I often see in bath remodels is water damage. The damaged area may not be huge, but still needs to be fixed. Less reputable builders may just cover it up, but I work with the homeowner for a repair that will stand the test of time, and keep their budget in line. The solution here is to keep an open mind, have the padding in your budget, and schedule and be prepared for some “what if” problems.

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49 comments

+ add your own
9:32AM PDT on Jun 11, 2013

Great article it's actually helpful,thanks for sharing

5:58PM PST on Mar 4, 2013

Good advice, thanks.

10:55PM PDT on Aug 24, 2011

hi everyone, please sign this petition and help
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3:57PM PDT on Jul 31, 2011

This definitely makes me think. And I agree about the making-things-match thing - ugly linoleum on the floor and a new concrete counter-top does not a pretty kitchen make. I'll definitely need more research on the order of things to do when remodeling a kitchen...

Thank you for the information.

5:39AM PDT on Jul 15, 2011

Thanks for the article.

1:16PM PDT on Jul 13, 2011

It is best to get several estimates so you know what you have to budget for. Sometimes you find you can do some of the pre-work to save time and money. Leave the big stuff to the pros.

12:41PM PST on Jan 9, 2011

Useful tips, thank you!!

1:19PM PST on Dec 16, 2010

Useful tips, and timely for me! All summer I am immersed in my outside world, spending every waking moment dealing with gardening, weeding etc, so the inside gets forgotten. Dishes piling up is the least of it! So this winter I determined to re-do the living area to make it both practical and user friendly, and also a bit nicer. I determined to keep it simple - a cheap new surround in one bathroom, with a fresh coat of paint. New floor tiles in the kitchen to brighten it and make the floor easier to clean than the 40's era linoleum currently there. Then installing the cabinets hubby built years ago but became too ill to install. Having all winter to work on it means I am able to take time to work out which things have to be moved where, what has to be painted before something is installed. Sitting back and looking at the big picture - the before and after, and the necessary steps needed to get there - has kept me from jumping into too much trouble so far. these tips reminded me of other concerns I need to look out for - thanks!

1:18PM PST on Dec 16, 2010

Useful tips, and timely for me! All summer I am immersed in my outside world, spending every waking moment dealing with gardening, weeding etc, so the inside gets forgotten. Dishes piling up is the least of it! So this winter I determined to re-do the living area to make it both practical and user friendly, and also a bit nicer. I determined to keep it simple - a cheap new surround in one bathroom, with a fresh coat of paint. New floor tiles in the kitchen to brighten it and make the floor easier to clean than the 40's era linoleum currently there. Then installing the cabinets hubby built years ago but became too ill to install. Having all winter to work on it means I am able to take time to work out which things have to be moved where, what has to be painted before something is installed. Sitting back and looking at the big picture - the before and after, and the necessary steps needed to get there - has kept me from jumping into too much trouble so far. these tips reminded me of other concerns I need to look out for - thanks!

1:15PM PDT on Oct 5, 2010

Very well said.

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