How many people are guilty of bestowing themselves professionals of something they have watched extensively on television? I know I am – I watch Food Network all the time and tell people I am a Master Chef (obviously I am not even close to that). With so many television shows about home remodeling and renovation, there are scary amounts of people out there that think they can handle the daunting task on their own. Hey, I am not saying you can’t do it yourself! But, just in case, here are 10 of the biggest remodeling mistakes, with some helpful tips provided by David Baughman, Project Manager at BCK Custom Builders in Tucson, Ariz. (Read original article here).
Ignoring Safety Procedures: It is easy to ignore safety procedures when you are in the comfort of your own home, but it is really important to protect yourself. Wear safety goggles, don’t stand on the tops of ladders, and turn off the main breaker when fixing electrical problems – especially in situations where you are working alone.
“The biggest rule of thumb for any remodeling project is to make sure the job site is safe,” said Baughman. “Sounds obvious, but there are countless avoidable injuries from electrical lines being cut, because the breakers weren’t all shut off, or from structures falling in an unforeseen direction or area.”
Avoid injury by leaving some aspects of the work to professionals. An architect has a plethora of great contractors, plumbers and electricians in their address book. Take advantage of their endless connections.
Using Cheap Materials: Ever heard the popular expression “You get what you pay for”? Well, it’s popular for a reason: it’s true, especially in the realm of renovation. There are so many tools and materials out there, it is hard to even know where to begin. If you are doing a renovation on your own, do your research. Go online and read reviews for different products.
If the thought of doing research makes you cringe, hire an architect. They already have an extensive knowledge on great products, and might even get good deals on certain items for being a frequent customer.
Blowing Your Budget: It is important to create a budget before beginning a renovation project. You definitely do not want to run out of money midway through and get stuck with a half-done kitchen or bathroom. Estimate all costs, even small things like nails and screws – then add more money on top.
“Have 30% more money than the budget begins with and start off with a wish list and a ‘must-have’ list,” advised Baughman.
Architects can work within your budget. They can come up with the most cost effective way to create the look you want. They can track down the perfect contractor for you – all while you don’t lift a finger.
Going Sledgehammer Crazy: Isn’t it scary how the people on T.V. make everything look so easy? They make it seem like every renovation begins with the swing of a sledgehammer. This is not the best idea.
“Swinging away with sledge hammers, as seen on TV, is not always the best method for demolition,” warned Baughman. “Identify bearing points (columns, posts, and even some walls) before removing unwanted walls.”
When you hire an Architect, they can usually get copies of the original construction drawing of your home from the local Building Department. They are able to figure out which walls can come down, and which walls can’t (because they are load baring). An architect can create a floor plan for you to see before the sledgehammer comes out. Instead of thinking that your design will probably look good, an architect can show you what it will look like.
Inaccurate Measurements: I hate math. And there is nothing more frustrating then realizing you measured something incorrectly, and therefor have to start over. Keep in mind the popular phrase “Measure twice, cut once.” Even being a half an inch off the mark is enough to derail the best-laid plans.
Architects have to take several intense math courses before earning their degree. They are equipped with the necessary skills to make sure the job is done correctly, the first time.
Avoiding Contractors: Even if you’ve seen every episode of a remodeling shows on HGTV, that doesn’t make you an expert. There are plenty of real experts out there that will do all of the dirty work for you. Projects like installing a roof, hanging drywall, and rewiring electrical are very critical to the value of your home. That’s a lot of pressure!
I know that finding a reliable and trustworthy contractor can be a nerve-wracking thing to do – that’s why you should hire an architect. They will once again pull out their handy-dandy notebook of great contacts and connect you with the perfect person to do the job. As Baughman puts it in the article, “Be the bearer of money for remodeling, not the bearer of expertise.”
Declining A Home Inspection: When buying a home to renovate, you should always get a home inspection from a professional. There are numerous reasons, but Baughman provides an especially compelling one.
“The other rule of thumb vital for surviving a modification of any building — do not trust the builder who came before you,” he cautioned. “Just because a building exists does not mean it is sound and will be capable of sustaining any modification.”
Once the remodel is complete, it is wise to bring the inspector back for another look around.
Not Getting the Right Permits: This is a very important part of a home renovation. It may seem silly, but if your nosey neighbors report your construction, you could be asked to tear all of your hard work down, and start over with the proper permits. Not to mention that if an accident happens, your homeowner insurance won’t cover it without proof of a valid permit.
An architect can take this mundane task out of your hands. They are up-to-date on all of the permitting codes and criteria, so you don’t have to worry about all of that. Plus, they do this often and will probably have a faster turn around compared to an average Joe first timer.
Focusing on Aesthetics Only: When doing a home renovation, most homeowners have one thing on their mind – resale value. Baughman writes, “Upgrading the kitchen cabinets and installing a new tub in every bathroom is going to increase the value of the house, but if you don’t pay special attention to the things that really matter, like structural damage, electrical wires, and busted pipes, your investment could end up in the toilet.”
While of course architects are going to want the final result to look good, they also focus on the things that most homeowners would overlook.
Not Going Green: Everyone knows that the most popular trend in home improvement is “going green” – being environmentally friendly in as many ways as possible. When remodeling your home, take that movement into consideration. It isn’t hard going green these days, as resources and projects are available in all price ranges and can even be found in a local home improvement store. And the best part is that you can reap the benefits in the form of lower utility bills, a healthier, cleaner environment, and lower insurance premiums.
Going green may seem easy, but as soon as you realize the many different options you have, you may become overwhelmed. An experienced architect will be able to provide you with a list of their most recommended “green” products. All you have to do is decide which one you like best!
So please, put the hammer down and call an architect.