Living in our house now that we have completed almost all of our renovations is wonderful (we still want to update our kitchen floor, install new doors, and do some more landscaping). Living in our house during it, was well, nothing like it looks like on HGTV; in fact, it was a bit...stressful.
We did a major renovation, and there are 10 things we learned that I would want to recommend to anyone considering any type of DIY home improvement project - be it a small project or a major flip.
1. Before even starting, make a business case - take the time to identify a plan; lay out what exactly you want to do and what you are working with, research the actual steps to do it and what tools you need, what supplies you need, and any additional contracting resources you might need. Make a timeline or a project plan for how long it will take and what you will work on and when. Then price out everything to see what is realistic. Collect your tools, resources and/or hire your staff and get started! This will help you keep costs as low as you can, and things on time. If you're doing a floor reno, some basics are: new flooring, new floor under-layer, room dividers, circular and power saws, trash bags, knee pads, new baseboards + paint + caulk, dumpster, shop vac, LOTS OF masks, chisel, spacers, new filters, cleaning supplies, ...more in another post, I promise, but for now, this is an example of all you need to budget for!
One of the more expensive tools we did NOT budget for because we did not complete our research of what all we needed to do to remove the concrete UNDER the tile. Because who knew it was there?!
2. Try to do major flips while you are living somewhere else (or on vacation) - what I didn't realize when we first started on our floors was how much dust comes up; dust that does not go away with lots of dusting, vacuuming, a robot vacuum, a general housekeeper, or even an air filter. WHERE DOES ALL THE DUST COME FROM?! It comes from everywhere; it sticks everywhere and it drove my type-A-personality crazy, especially when my allergies kicked in around Spring! So the best advice I can give is to try to live somewhere else during any work on kitchen counters, floors, or anything cutting into your dry wall. Afterwards, get an air filter like this from Home Depot to pull any remaining dust out, new air filters like these air filters around the house and change monthly for the first three months, and hire a professional cleaning company to come in and clean all the things, if you're like me, you don't want to clean - like fans, baseboards, crown molding, blinds, etc. Oh, and if you need a dumpster, try Bagster, its the fastest and cheapest way to do it. Otherwise, like in my picture below, you need to go through your city waste removal company
My dust shield to prevent the dust from chipping the tile from getting into the living room. Temporary fix. Don't do this with duct tape - it sticks to your ceiling and you'll have to goo gone it off, whoops!
One of THREE dumpsters we got over the year; this one is from the City of Austin. ~ $400
3. Note the differences between Home Depot & Lowes - we spent a ton of time at both of these stores. I wish I had known before putting so many miles on my car that Home Depot is really great for tools, builder grade items, and anything generic; the store is catered to contractors and males - hence the loud music and warehouse-feel. Lowes on the other hand, is catered to women (Say WHAT?!) and the shelves are lower, music is top 40s, and there are many, many more 'decor' choices (think artsy tiles, furnishes, decor and storage items, paint, etc).
4. Leave electricity and plumbing to the professionals - there are many DIY videos out there, but electricity can be dangerous and plumbing is VERY finicky and both are things that without subject-matter expertise, could lead to very expensive fixes. Also, any electric work you do on your house has to be inspected and approved before you sell again...which also costs like $200 in Austin. We thankfully did not have any problems (Tyler learned this work from his grandfather), but I did have an electrician come in to check all of our work before the inspection to make sure it was safe AND we would pass. One electricity thing that you can DIY safely (if you turn off your power breakers) is installing ceiling fans and new light fixtures like chandeliers. Here's a tutorial here. But if you're not comfortable, don't risk the danger and contract this out, friend!
5.If you are painting your house get an automatic roller - these are a LIFESAVER and make painting so fast. We did our 2,700 sq foot house in 12 hours. By we, I mean, mostly me, alone. You can get one here. Don't forget to tape EVERY molding + baseboard though :)
6. Make new friends, but keep the old - If you end up hiring a contractor, and like him/her, ask him/her first of any additional contractors they might know if you need more work done. Usually, they will give a referral discount and/or prevent you from having to search for another contractor with the specialist you need.
7. Always assume for some time delays - life happens. Mistakes, hiccups and some setbacks will happen. For example, we thought we would be able to chisel the tile out of our entryway in 2 days...jack hammers, chisels, sledge hammers, bruised knees, sore backs, massages, and weeks later, we finished; whoops! Just accept that things *MAY* be delayed at one point, but don't take short cuts, because "if it's worth doing, it's worth doing it right" even if it takes more time.
When we realized the original owners used concrete to glue the tiles down and so we got a sledge hammer and this heavy duty Milwaukee Chisel add on to our Power Saw
The Hubs using the Power Saw Chisel Add on to get 'er done!
8. Get a Shopvac - you will use this SO much. Here's the one we have. You can use it to clean wet or dry debris or even to vaccum your car. This will help with all the dust I mentioned, too. Make sure to get an extra filter so you have one on hand when you need it!
Shop Vac in top left. Got ALL the debris from the pic above out!!
9. Take pictures - its always so fun to take before and after photos to see how much you have accomplished!
Living room before
Living room during - new floors installed but working on paint, fireplace, outlets, need to fix and re-paint/texture dry wall around outlets, need outlet inspection, and need new furniture!
Living room after!
10. Have fun - especially if you're doing it yourself, take take to rest, enjoy life, spend time with your family and friends and when your project(s) are done, make sure you celebrate!
Our family of four (before Adelaide) after we finished all of our projects at a celebratory house warming!