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Kevin Ahern

By: Kevin Ahern on August 28th, 2017

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5 Common DIY Home Remodel Mistakes - and How to Fix Them


Homeowners can save a lot of money by completing home improvements and renovations on their own. Unfortunately, some homeowners incur additional, unnecessary costs by failing to anticipate the problems that can arise during home renovations.

Delays, accidents and lack of proper preparation can all lead to problems. Homeowners who know and anticipate some of the common DIY home remodel mistakes are better able to successfully complete their home improvement projects, with fewer hitches along the way.

The key to a great home remodeling project is proper planning. Our free checklist will guide you through the 3 main planning phases.
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Local building departments usually require permits to be pulled before structural changes are made to a property. Permits ensure that the building department is aware that these changes are taking place. This gives the building department the ability to oversee the work and ensure that the work is done properly.

When a permit is pulled, the work cannot be considered completed until it has passed inspection by a local building inspector. Pulling a permit can incur additional costs. However, failure to pull a permit can be more costly. Homes with unpermitted work can be more difficult to sell and insure. Home buyers may have difficulty getting a mortgage for a home with unpermitted work. This could result in the homeowner getting a permit for the work after the fact, or redoing the project.

Ultimately, homeowners who do not get a permit when one is required can reduce the value of their property and incur big costs down the road. You should always call the building department to always make sure you have the necessary permits.

Don’t Overlook Safety

Accidents cause loss of time and money, and can have more serious consequences, like injuries and even death. No matter what the job, safety should be a priority.

  • Wear personal protective equipment. PPE, or personal protective equipment, can protect the body from hazards like falling objects, dust, vapors and dangerously bright lights. PPE takes many forms, including proper eyewear, clothing, hard hats, steel toed boots, gloves and masks. PPE is required in almost any home improvement project, starting from the demolition phase.
  • Use a spotter. Using a ladder can be dangerous, especially when the ladder is positioned on soft ground. To avoid accidents, have a spotter stand beside the ladder and hold the ladder in place. Ask the spotter to be ready to call for help if you fall.
  • Know your limits. Making electrical upgrades can be dangerous if you don’t know what you’re doing. Knowing when to call an expert for help can help prevent expensive accidents and serious injuries.

Be Prepared

Tools are expensive, and buying a new tool midway through a project can throw the project off budget. Gathering all your tools and materials before beginning your project can help ensure that the project will stay on budget. Some homeowners have a hard time deciding what tools they’ll need before the project begins. Having a plan in place to complete the project will help. Before buying any materials, make a step-by-step plan. This may involve watching tutorials, reading books and talking to experts.

Set a Realistic Timeline and Plan Accordingly

It can be tough to live in a house under renovation, especially when delays occur. The longer a project is drawn out, the more money you'll spend accommodating the project.

This is especially true when the project is taking place in an important room of the home, like the kitchen or a full bathroom.

  • Keep your timeline realistic. It’s easy to underestimate the time a task will take, especially if you’re not an experienced contractor. When making a plan, make an estimate for how long each step of the project will take, then add 20% to the time to give a buffer for mistakes, delays and unexpected problems.
  • Set up an alternative room of the house. It’s much easier to manage a home improvement project when the other members of your household are able to work around the mess. For example, home owners renovating their kitchen may set up an alternative kitchen in the garage. Set up the microwave, toaster oven and refrigerator. If possible, clean the utility sink for washing up after meals.
  • Set up potential back up living situations. Living in with a friend or family member can make your home renovation project easier to complete in a timely fashion.
  • Make arrangements for children and pets to be elsewhere. Children and pets get in the way and can even be a hazard during some phases of the home construction project. Making arrangements for children and pets to stay with relatives or friends can help keep the project moving.
  • Know when you might not have plumbing or electricity. There comes a time in most home improvement projects when there is no plumbing or electricity available in the house. Knowing when these times are coming and keeping your family members aware of these phases can help the experience go smoothly.

When you’re making your timeline, write things down in the form of a check list. Revise your list regularly throughout the project so you can make adjustments when necessary. To avoid conflicts in the household, keep your family members up to date on the latest timelines and estimates.

Don’t Be Afraid To Call A Contractor

Not all home improvements are suitable DIY projects. Calling a contractor can save time, money and potential headaches. Homeowners who aren’t sure whether or not they’re capable of completing their DIY project themselves can call a contractor for help. Often just consulting with a contractor will help the homeowner make this judgment call. Asking the contractor, step by step, what he or she would do to do complete the project can help the homeowner decide whether or not they’re capable of doing it themselves.

Contact Litchfield Builders

Are you planning a DIY home improvement project? Tell us about your plans! Leave your comments in the box below.

DIY projects can save the homeowner money. However, a home improvement project that is delayed by accidents and miscalculations can cost far more than anticipated. Working with a licensed contractor from the outset of a home improvement project can help ensure that the job is done right and efficiently.

At Litchfield Builders, we work with homeowners who want to save money on their home improvement projects. By allowing homeowners to do the demolition work, painting and clean up on their own, we help property owners reduce the cost of their home improvement projects. As experienced contractors, we can ensure that the work is done right the first time.

We offer free consultations to homeowners looking to start their home improvement project. To make an appointment, contact us today. You can also take a look at our free Home Remodeling Checklist for more information that can help you avoid DIY home remodel mistakes.

3 Phases to Planning a Home Remodel

About Kevin Ahern

Kevin is the Co-Founder of Litchfield Builders, an award-winning, industry leader with a reputation for managing projects others shy away from. They are known for their high-quality work, customer service, and reliability and though still relatively small in size, Litchfield Builders now competes with some of the areas largest firms in both the residential and commercial arenas.