Should you take on that home improvement project?

Everyone is experiencing the Covid-19 crisis in vastly different ways. Some folks are working from home with kids underfoot and wondering how they’re going to make it to September. Others may have been temporarily laid off due to the  Stay Home, Stay Safe find themselves with some unexpected time on their hands. No matter what your situation, you’re likely spending lots more time at home than usual and perhaps you’ve found yourself wondering, “Should I take on a home improvement project?” The answer, of course, depends on your skills, the tools at your disposal and your timeframe.

Skills

Try to be honest with yourself about this one – I speak from experience when I say that YouTube is really good at making things look easier than they actually are. If you jump into a project that’s beyond your skill level, it’s probably going to be stressful. In my opinion, this is NOT the time to add more stress to our lives – we’ve got enough of that already with a global pandemic raging and an economic crisis brewing. DIY home projects should be (mostly) fun!

Deck contractor Bellingham


Tools & Equipment

Do you already have the right tools and equipment for the project, or can you borrow from friends or family? If you need to buy a lot of new equipment, it might really eat into the cost savings of a DIY project? Equally important is whether you are confident that you know how to use the tools safely.  All questions to ask yourself before you make any major purchases or raid your friend’s garage!


Time

Doesn’t it seem like home projects always take longer than we think they will? It pays to be thoughtful while considering whether you really have time to give the project the attention it deserves. As you’re weighing costs, it is also important to contemplate whether the time it will take you to complete the work is worth the money you would save by not hiring a pro.

Great projects for DIYers

Here are a few home improvement projects most people can easily complete themselves. They don’t require (much) specialized equipment and there are no major safety implications if it doesn’t turn out as planned.

  • Painting- Painting the interior of your home is an excellent homeowner project. It’s relatively simple, there is no safety risk and if you make a mistake, just paint over it! Both Stockton’s Paint and Sherwin Williams are currently offering curbside pick-up. Stockton’s is also offering free delivery in Whatcom County for orders of 5 gallons or more.
  • Outdoor work and landscaping- With all of the talk about Victory Gardens right now you might be considering building new garden beds or expanding your current vegetable garden – awesome! Or maybe you’re thinking about sprucing up your existing landscaping. These are all jobs you can totally take on yourself. The best thing about yardwork is that even if it takes days or weeks to complete, it won’t completely disrupt your life like an unfinished indoor renovation would. A few of my favorite plant nurseries are Garden Spot and Cloud Mountain Farm Center, both are currently offering curbside pick-up. Cloud Mountain is also shipping orders via USPS.
  • Cosmetic renovations- The list of possible cosmetic renovations homeowners can take on is too long to list here. From new switch plate covers to painting cupboards to updating drawer pulls to new light fixtures to refinishing your kitchen table. With a little YouTube support, you can totally take on these projects!

Projects that might stretch your skills

The projects in this category require more skill, some specialized tools and above all else, more planning.  

  • Tile- If you know what you’re doing, DIY tile work is super satisfying, safe and you can produce excellent results. But, it’s also highly visible, and if you get it wrong, chipped tiles, patterns out of alignment, and amateur grouting can all detract from your project. When in doubt, practice first on a scrap of plywood, and don’t hesitate to call a professional if it doesn’t come out looking like you had hoped.
  • Carpentry- Homeowners with the right skills can take on some carpentry projects. From shelves to planter boxes to grape trellis’, there are so many simple projects that amateur carpenters can take on. Note that Bellingham Millwork delivers building materials and supplies! If you haven’t used a hammer and saw since high school shop class, start small, make a plan and consider leaving the more technical projects to a professional carpenter.
  • Hard scaping- It’s grilling season and installing a patio may seem like a great project to take on. Installing pavers may sound like a piece of cake, but getting the site properly prepared requires patience, a strong back and an eye for details.

Leave these projects to the pros

There are some aspects of home repair and remodeling that should almost always be left to the professionals. If not completed correctly they could lead to unsafe conditions or damage to your home, or they require highly specialized tools that aren’t really worth acquiring.

  • Electrical work- The risk of electrocution or fire is very real. Electricians must be certified before carrying out any work, so unless you’ve got the right qualifications, it’s time to find a good electrician.
  • Plumbing- There is a real potential to cause costly damage to your house if plumbing is completed incorrectly. Hire a pro! 
  • Gas fitting- Any project that involves gas lines requires a professional. The good news is that many plumbers are also licensed gasfitters, so it shouldn’t be too hard to find someone to help out.
  • Structural work- If your project involves structural work, hire a qualified builder. Making structural changes to your home without proper engineering or knowledge of building techniques is a recipe for disaster.
  • Floor sanding- If you’re dreaming is a flawless floor finish leave it to the pros! Sanding floors requires a level of finesse with tools that most of us just don’t have.
  • Roofing- There are aspects of roof repair that some homeowners can take on, such as replacing a few damaged shingles or patching small cracks. However, working on roofs is dangerous and requires a lot of safety planning, not to mention that a leaky roof can cause substantial and costly damage to your home. Roofing is something you don’t want to get wrong.

Above all else remember that home projects should be (mostly) fun. If the idea of jumping into a project feels overwhelming maybe now isn’t the time. If on the other hand, the distraction of the project feels welcome, go for it. Every successful project starts with a plan –  have fun and be safe!

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