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A Guide to DIY Home and Yard Renovations

If you’ve been wanting to do DIY renovations for some time, but just aren’t sure where to start, this guide should help you narrow down how to begin. A word of caution though: renovations take time. While this may seem obvious at first, it’s quite another when you’re in the midst of remodeling and all you want is your house to go back to “normal.” With sawdust somehow in every corner and your kitchen out of commission, it can feel like you’ve made a mistake. That’s why having a good plan, and a hefty portion of patience can go a long way.

As mentioned in an earlier blog, there are a variety of things to consider, but two that you need to take into consideration when you’re doing work on your own home is to be very aware of any high voltage or electricity that you’re working around, and to aim for high-quality materials. High quality often gets overlooked, especially when you’re working in a small budget. As long as you are not trying to sell your home soon, it’s better to do smaller portions of work at a higher quality. A higher-quality flooring, for instance, makes a world of difference. 

Make a list 
Before deciding on one specific renovation, sit down and make a list of each of the improvements you would like for your home or yard. Group them together by room. Alternatively, you could group them together by feature, time length, or cost involved. For example, if you want to replace all the baseboard trim throughout your home, you would not want to do this room-by-room, but rather all at one time.

Once you’ve made a list, prioritize what you would like finished from most to least important. This way you can choose to do individual projects, or a whole section of your house, based on priorities. 

Be realistic when making your list of home renovations. If you’re unsure if your home could support specific renovations, consult with an architect to see if such an idea is feasible. Also create your own DIY Difficulty Scale, like ours, to reference in order to measure the skill level needed for each task.

This might seem silly, but it’s also key to determine what you actually expect from the renovations. If you see a plethora of white subway tiled kitchens in magazines, it does not immediately mean you have to go with that style. Knowing what your design style is and what you expect from the renovations are both important to making a complete list for your projects.
I like to create a Pinterest board to curate all of my inspiration.

Decide your budget

If your budget allows, you may want to hire professionals for certain projects and do the others yourself. However, if you have very little to put towards a renovation, consider saving so that you can do a larger project later on. Try doing simple relatively inexpensive renovations, like a fresh coat of paint in your bathroom. 

If you fall somewhere in the middle, focus on your priorities and work down the list. Kitchens and bathrooms are notoriously the most expensive things to renovate, and also some of the most difficult. If you’re new to DIY projects, start smaller.

Identify major issues 

While you may want a beautiful home and look forward to the more fun and aesthetically pleasing DIY renovations, you need to make sure that what you start with is in good condition. When making your list, make sure you adequately address any major issues in that area. If remodeling is going to worsen the issue or make it more problematic to deal with down the road, you need to opt to either address the larger problem now or skip to a different DIY project. As an example, you can’t readily install a new flooring if there’s wet rot beneath it. But, you’ll need to address the dry rot and the source of the rot before you decide to jump ahead to the more visible renovations. 

This also goes back to needing patience when doing renovations. You will likely have issues crop up that you hadn’t expected ahead of time. It’s time to take a breath, and analyze what needs to happen before moving forward. Plowing forward with your initial plan doesn’t work if there are underlying problems. It can be helpful during the planning period to include buffer time for obstacles. 

Make a timeline 

Larger projects will take significant time, so plan realistically for that. If you have upcoming events, plan around those, and physically mark down what you expect to be doing on your remodeling at each date in your calendar. That way, at each step, you can see if you’re ahead of schedule, or behind. If you’re ahead of schedule, you may need to place an order for supplies earlier than expected. If you’re behind, you may want to move around some of the things you’d expected to do for a later date. 

Treat your timeline as you would a deadline at work. If you don’t, those month-long renovations might go on for years, resulting in a remodeling nightmare. Just remember, renovations typically go beyond the expected timeframe.   

Prepare ahead of time
So, you’ve got your budget figured out and you know exactly what you want to do. Time to jump right in, right? Wait! You need to now make a list of the things you know you will need while doing renovations. Yes, there will be things you forget to buy, and things you did not even know you were going to need. However, the more that you are prepared with the right tools and items, the better off you’ll be. 

Reference the renovation timeline that you created earlier, and make sure that at each of the points you have the supplies you’ll need. This may include reserving a rental tool for a specific weekend from your local hardware store, or simply making sure to order tile in enough advanced time that it’s ready for when you need it. Keep in mind that some things may be back-ordered, so provide plenty of cushion when it comes to ordering things. 

Consider renovations to your yard

If you cringe every time you pull up to your home, then it may be time for some outdoor or landscape renovations. It’s often assumed that outdoor renovations are easy and straightforward, but you do need to make sure that you don’t cause any damage to water lines or underground cables. Make sure if you’re doing major landscape architecture that you understand if you have water flow issues on your property. To keep water from pooling through your yard, install trenches with attractive trench drain grates. This will not only make your yard more attractive, redirecting the water will allow for plants to not be affected by excess moisture throughout the year. Or consider adding a water feature, adding rock paths, or planting some fruit trees for privacy along a neighbor’s fence. These options are simple and make your yard into a beautiful garden.

New to DIYing?

Ultimately, renovating your own home is incredibly fulfilling, as well as budget-friendly. However, if you’re new to the DIY scene, don’t bite off more than you can chew. Check out these five home improvements that you can try without feeling like you’re overdoing it to give you a sense of what can be reasonably done.

This is a collaborative post written by one of our blog partners.
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