D.I.Y. or Don’t?

Published Jul 22, 2015

sketch-of-kitchen-interiorWhen it comes to freshening up a home, whether it’s for an immediate sale or future resale value, the age of Pinterest has a lot of homeowners considering D.I.Y. projects. If a homeowner can re-stain all the kitchen cabinets for half the price of a contractor, and their New Jersey Realtor advises it would be a great selling point, why not give it a whirl?


But before cracking open that can of paint, save your client (or yourself!) a lot of future headaches and do your homework on do-it-yourself.


Don’t Bite Off More Than You Can Chew


Probably the worst mistake a homeowner can make with D.I.Y. is getting in too deep. Trying to remodel an entire kitchen without having the slightest background in construction might not be the best idea. Start with something manageable.


Consider how long a project should realistically take. Give an extra week or two of cushion time past the projected end date, just in case. Starting a project in May with a big family party in June might motivate a homeowner to finish the project faster, but it could also create a stressful deadline they may not realistically be able to make. A homeowner who has all the necessary tools — physical and psychological — will make for a stress-free renovation.


Budget, Budget, Budget


Plan a budget. Make sure there’s room left in the budget for the unexpected because problems will undoubtedly arise. If a homeowner purchases 10 tiles for the bathroom floor and one accidentally cracks one on the way in the house, there should be enough wiggle room in the budget to cover the casualties of inexperience. But also make sure to stick as close as possible to the financial terms laid down.


Homeowners need to understand what they’re getting into before starting anything. If they want to remodel the first-floor bathroom, remind them they won’t be able to use the facilities in there for that period of time.


Start at the Very Beginning


A big impact on a home doesn’t have to be a complete remodel. A lot of the time, organizational additions and practical projects are a good jumping off point.


Each home is different, and in consulting with a Realtor, you may be able to get further insight on which part of a home is the focal point, which needs a little updating, and what could use a special something to really make it marketable.


Take a Walk Outside


An easy fix with a big impact would be refinishing an outdoor deck. If the outdoor space has a weathered, sun-damaged look to it, staining might be the solution. A power-washer will thoroughly clean the deck before it can be stained. If shelling out for a power-washer is out of budget, consider renting. Once it’s clean, use a semitransparent stain on an older deck — the wood grain will still show through, but it will even out the color.


Make sure lawns are healthy and any landscaping around a home is neat. A bag of topsoil placed around plants and shrubbery will do wonders for curb appeal.


A Quick Fix


Are the kitchen cabinets boring? If it’s a shore area, suggest changing out the regular round knobs for brushed silver starfish for a quick beach-y update. Changing out the knobs of the kitchen cabinets or bathroom vanity can have a big impact on the aesthetic of the entire room and will likely cost under $100.


For a really big change, paint or stain the cabinets before adding new knobs. Done right, it can look like a completely different kitchen.


Interior Decisions


A coat of paint in one room or throughout the house is one of the easiest ways to make to impact a space. From patterns to accent walls, paint allows a wide spectrum of creativity with relatively low cost and effort.


If time is less of an issue, consider moldings. They can add a pop to a room like nothing else. A room with moldings looks elegant and complete, something homebuyers love to see.


Fireplaces are a focal point of any room they occupy, so make sure they look their best. A mantle can be a bold addition. A thorough cleaning can be a subtle improvement, and painting can make an old fireplace look modern and new.


Perhaps the most important part of D.I.Y. is to understand if a project gets too complicated or it turns into something a homeowner is unable to D.I.Y. themselves out of, there’s no shame in hanging it up and calling in the professionals.