Top Ten 2012 Home Improvement Tips
Many people start the year off with home improvements on their mind. Some want to do painting, others want to upgrade their kitchen or bath, and others want additional
space added onto their home. Whatever project you might have in mind for the new year, now is the best time to plan your project properly with the following tips.
1. Take stock of your house. Walk the inside and outside of your house and determine what you "need" to have done (rotting siding, leaking roof) versus what you "want" to have done (new kitchen or family media room addition). Prioritize your list.
2. What are your long term plans. How long will you stay in your house? If you plan on selling the house within the next year, concentrate on things that will get you a higher sales price or sell your house quicker, like painting and repairs. If you do not plan on moving anytime soon, completing the projects on your "want" list will make living in your home much more enjoyable.
3. Get inspired. Look through magazines, visit design centers, even get paint samples. The more components of the project you think about ahead of time, the better. It's never a good idea to choose products and make choices when your contractor is ready to install them - you'll be under way too much pressure.
4. Budget is king. Make sure you set aside or borrow enough money for your project, plus some for extras and any unforseen expenses that may arise. Many homeowners are not familiar with current prices, so start the process early to avoid surprises.
5. Bring in the experts. Too many times homeowners try to undertake projects that are beyond their skill set or knowledge, require more time than they have available, and require tools they do not own. Think long and hard if you are leaning towards doing the work yourself. As a rule, it is better for homeowners to do what they do best so they can pay a licensed contractor to do what they do best.
6. Permits, licensing, and other hurdles the building dept. wants you to leap. Virtually any project you undertake, other than painting or floorcoverings, will typically require getting a permit. Although a homeowner can usually obtain his own permit to perform work on a single family home in most municipalities (with the exception of gas work), detailed plans containing specific information and supporting documentation will be required. This is more reason to hire a licensed contrator who will be familiar with all the requirements.
7. Flexibility. Any timeframe for completion given by a contractor is nothing more than a guess. Every project is unique and suppliers and sub-contractors respond differently based on work load at the time. Any project requiring demolition of walls can expose unforeseen or hidden issues. Be flexible and plan for extra time and expense. If it's not needed, it's a bonus.
8. Communication. Whether you are doing the work yourself with help of friends and/or family, or you have hired a contractor, clearly convey your expectations and respond quickly when a decision is needed. When working with a contractor, ensure the scope sheet clearly defines everything you expect to have done, before you sign the contract.
9. Safety. If doing the work yourself, use safety glasses, ear protection, and follow power tool manufacturer's safety guidelines. Regardless of who's doing the work, keep children and pets far away from danger. If holes or trenches need to be left exposed overnight, enclose them with safety fencing. Don't take any chances and bring any safety concerns to the attention of your contractor.
10. Plan to enjoy yourself. Although there are very serious aspects of performing home improvements, his should be a fun, low stress experience. You will reap great rewards if you do your homework and plan, plan, plan.