Beware: Do-it-yourself reno needs ample time, patience - Metro US

Beware: Do-it-yourself reno needs ample time, patience

A good friend of mine is doing a kitchen renovation in stages to save money, and she’s pulling out her hair over it.

She wants it done, but is doing it in bits and pieces, as her cash flow allows. This way, she won’t be paying to borrow money from the bank to finance her renovation. She’s a sucker for doing things as cheaply as possible, and so is her husband. He would do the work, since he is a very handy fellow, and there’s no need to spend money on a contractor, or get a renovation bank loan. Sounds good, right?

Wrong. Life can get in the way, as it often does. Either you pay the bucks to get the whole job done in a reasonable timeframe, or you save money, wait and live inside a renovation for an extended time. And that applies whether you do it yourself, or whether you hire someone to renovate in stages, according to your cash flow.

You have to ask yourself whether saving money is worth the frustration of living through an extended stage-by-stage renovation. Some say yes, and some say no, and some say yes until they actually live through a long period of disorder and inconvenience, at which time they decide they’re in the “no” camp.

If you decide that a stage-by-stage renovation is for you after all, here’s one major pitfall you must avoid. You definitely do not want to undertake expensive and frustrating rework. Rework means you’ll be paying your contractor to tear down work that has already been finished, to order to remedy a problem that you did not foresee.

Think carefully and plan out in detail what you want to do in totality before you embark on any bits and pieces of renovation work. Only after you think about the whole project should you decide on stages and timing of renovation work.

And when it comes to figuring out costs, be brutally honest with yourself. Avoid tacking on “extras” at the end of a project, because you will pay “extras” dollars for it.

Last but not least, especially if you do the work yourself, be honest about your time, the likelihood of finishing the work in an acceptable timeframe, as well as whether patience is abundant in your household. It will be needed if you decide to renovate in stages.

– Sylvia Putz is a journalist with an interest in decor and design. She’s written for the TV show Arresting Design; sputz@arrestingdesign.com.

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