Dont Gut Your Home Yet!

This one comes up all the time… someone has a little construction experience, maybe they started studying to be a home inspector or general contractor and think they know enough to save a lot of money on the remodel.

Heard this story before? It’s the same guy that got hit with a $2000 towing and repair bill when he tried to change his own head gasket. Instead the autoshop got a bag full of car parts and a disheveled customer trying to determine what went wrong.

This may sound like I’m discouraging you from doing the work yourself but that couldn’t be further from the truth. In reality I’m just telling you to be prepared for some worst case scenarios. I think that home owners should do as much work themselves as they are capable of, it’s great bonding time for the family, it’s enjoyable, saves you money, and makes you less reliant on professionals.

#1 Turn Off The Utilities

This is much more important than you think. I was remodeling a bathroom years ago and learned this lesson on a very wet night. The hole in the vanity base for the water lines was big enough to fit around the angle stop handle. Being lazy I decided it wasn’t worth shutting the water off and unscrewing the top I would just lift it around the handle. Thinking it was just the piece of caulking sticking, I applied a little more force until I broke the aging PVC plumbing line and started shooting water uncontrollably into my house.

Now it’s important to note that I have engineered wood floors over a slab so every bit of water slipped underneath the floating floor and warped all the wood. Luckily the damage wasn’t permanent and the wood settled back down. The lesson was to shutoff all utilities even if you think you don’t need them off, It’s a lot easier to turn a lever back than it is to repair water and electrical fire damage.

#2 Check The Layout

The layout is very important and shouldn’t  be guessed. I’ve seen jobs “eyeballed” more times than I can count. They never fit and you end up with doors cut around a toilet, and vanities cut off with a chainsaw.

The way to do this is to get standard graph paper a ruler and a tape measure; take the measurements of the exterior walls for your room and then it’s very easy to start figuring out where things fit based on size. Plan the details using the graph paper and you’re a lot less likely to make a mistake.

If you’re buying new appliances pick the models now and get the measurements. If the home inspector left you some items on the inspection report fix them now. Missing vent fans in bathrooms are often forgotten about until you go to sell the house. Now is the time to deal with them.

#3 Find Your Professionals

Find the professionals now before you have a problem. I understand you’re doing this job yourself and you don’t want to use a home professional. However, after you spring a leak in a sewage line is not the time to be hunting down the most cost efficient plumbing expert. I strongly avoid lead generation sites because the businesses have to pay to be on there (which is really the only vetting they get) and it’s not guarantee of quality or a fair price.

We avoid those services like the plague because of how they choose contractors and business to display… It’s simply whoever wants to front the cash. Instead I would encourage you to call your local property investors association. They can usually give you someone that is reasonable, and good, that may not be known well outside the investment community. This is a group of people that make their living finding the best and cheapest contractors to renovate houses, they’ll usually have someone to refer you to.

You can check with local real estate offices and they will likely give you a good referral to the service required as well. I get calls periodically of people asking who we recommend for X service. usually a day or two later I’ll get a message from the provider saying “Thank you for sending Jane Smith over.” It’s common in this industry so don’t be shy about asking.

#4 Know The Market Trends

Knowing the market trends is important before you spend a bunch of money remodeling. If you’re not in your forever home than it’s important to know what is selling and what is popular. A velvet Elvis with shag carpet may be cool to the right person, but everyone else sees a $4000 bill for a new paint job and carpet.

This is so important it is why investors pay interior designers $100’s to provide design sheets with nothing but paint colors, tile design, and fixtures that they can use in all their houses. It makes them sell faster and for more money. Earth tones can be a bit bland depending on how you decorate but they always seem to be popular and safe. Your 6 year old may love the pink vanity but most others wont be quite so smitten.

#5 Check The Home Inspection

We touched on this a bit earlier, but now is the time to do your upgrading. Call your inspector and see what has changed in the time since you’ve had your home inspection regarding best building practices and code requirements. Your home inspection report would have listed things like GFCI outlets, baulky mechanisms on the toilet, dripping shower heads etc. Typically these things get neglected but now is the perfect time to fix them.

If you’re updating the entire bathroom why skimp on the shower head? Just update it with a new one and move on. If you’re having an electrician come out to install GFCI outlets, you might as well have them run the wire for a vent fan and get it connected. If you are local to Birmingham Al, call us we regularly consult on remodels and construction jobs. As an added bonus if you used Timberline Inspections for your home inspection than it’s free.


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