Building & Remodeling
What Projects Should I Do Myself?
I have witnessed many homeowner completed remodeling projects that are impressively done without any prior skill or oversight from a contractor. I have also had to charge some other folks to rip up and throw away some portion of an ill-fated attempt at “Do it yourself”. Which projects then, should you have a try at yourself?
Let’s start with the ones that I would suggest you do not try. In this category is anything that can get you hurt or worse. The obvious example is upgrading your electrical service. This is the meter on the outside of the house along with your circuit panel or fuse panel. Plans for additional loads, including the addition of central air conditioning will likely call for an upgrade. Homeowners are allowed to pull their own Building Permits for almost everything. Most Building Officials will not however, let someone without an electrical contractor’s license, pull their own permit for a service upgrade. That’s just too much juice to play with if you have not been trained! On this same list, many folks are not comfortable with heights. Acknowledge your fears and let someone else paint the outside of your house or clean your gutters! Step away from the chain saw and let the licensed professional take down that one hundred foot oak tree that is twenty feet from your house. We all want you to go back to work on Monday after your weekend worrier activities.
What can I do, you ask? Eliminating anything that can hurt you or others, I suggest you go for it! If you try to replace some door trim or a rotten window sill and it still looks like umm.. lousy; what have you lost? You call a contractor and they’ll take the old stuff away and make it look much, much better than new! If it looks good, you will have something to brag about for a lifetime! Tile that looks poorly and is ordered removed by a higher authority in your house; is a slightly more expensive mistake. It will take more man hours of demolition to get the contractor back to a starting point.
Many folks have asked me about building a deck themselves. With a little coaching, a rectangle single level deck is actually one of those projects that people with limited experience can complete themselves. My follow up question is one of available construction hours. If I estimate that two carpenters could complete the proposed deck in two weeks; that equates to one hundred and sixty man hours. Assuming (incorrectly) that Mr. and Mrs. Homeowner can work together and have the same tools and skills as my carpenters; “When can you invest that kind of time?” is my follow up question. Sandwiched between children’s activities and work; most can carve out two hours on Saturday and two hours on Sunday for the project. That’s twenty weekends’ folks! If you can do it, go for it!