A few years ago I went to a house owned by a single man here in Salem Oregon. He was contemplating putting his home on the market. “What do I need to do to get the house ready?” he asked. “Bulldoze it?” was what I really wanted to say, but with all my mental might I held my tongue (which is no small feat) and instead said “It looks like you tackled some remodeling work yourself. ” (I use the word “remodel” very loosely here)
See, like many homeowners, he decided to embark on a remodel project. Possessed with the pioneering spirit that made Oregon…well Oregon, he boldly went where no homeowner should go: neon paint. Unfortunately how to miter a corner correctly, how to cut tile, and how to pick paint that isn’t oh say…the color of alien slime…wasn’t one of his skills. Why they even make paint that color is beyond me, but I think they make it to sucker people into having to buy more paint since it looks so bad once it is done. Unfortunately, he was oblivious to the devious plot of the paint company and actually thought it looked good.
As I looked at the botched jobs it was difficult to put a damper on his pioneering spirit, but the fact is his remodel work stunk. Back then we didn’t have local home stager, Margaret Oscillia around to do my dirty work for me and tell people their homes need work. It was just me and my brain doing my best to summon all the polite words I could. He was so proud of his improvements and I felt bad telling him that his improvements actually cost him money because it wasn’t done well. Yes some remodels will actually cause the house to lose value.
Now, I have seen many excellent home owner remodels done. I have had some clients that understand that laying out tile takes more thought than…I’ll start in this corner. If you are a first time home buyer and thinking of diving into a remodel project consider a few things:
- Do you have the time to LEARN how to do the task properly? There are many great videos online that demonstrate how to do some projects. Home depot offers some classes for some things as well. Learn before you dive in. This one step will save you thousands in lost resale value. Seriously, I really don’t want to write on my MLS listing “new counters poorly installed by home owner…just look past that and the poorly installed trim, pretty please with sugar on top.”
- Do you have patience? The fact is that as you are learning you will mess up tile cuts, crown moulding, and baseboard cuts. Plan on making mistakes. The pros had to make mistakes to learn too. Often times people get tired of the project taking too long and they just “hurry up and finish” which really means “Let’s leave this project for a future homeowner to deal with. They won’t mind.”
- Do you have the money? If you are tight on a budget, wait a bit to get more money. Projects tend to cost more than you expect because…well…you mess up and need to rebuy materials. Plan for this. I can’t tell you how many times a buyer has walked in a house and said “Well they cheaped out on that, didn’t they?” Make sure the quality of your materials are consistent throughout the project.
- Can a contractor do it cheaper? Sometimes people get so caught up in the DIY mode that they forget that those tools to do that task properly cost money. Now locally you can rent many tools at Capital Rental but really there is nothing worse than a $400 saw collecting dust in the garage for all the “DIY” work you planned to tackle. A table saw really can’t double as a coffee table….well unless you are super crafty or something…
So as the economy has gotten difficult an many homeowners taking pay cuts, I encourage you all to consider future resale when you tackle home repair and remodels. To DIY or DDIY? Be honest about your skills and motivation…you may want to join the ranks of the DDIYer’s…Don’t Do It Yourselfers and save yourself some money in the long run at sale time.