As a Massachusetts real estate agent working with buyers, I see a variety of houses. Some expensive lavish homes, as well as starter homes. And in these homes, I can see professional renovations or work done by the weekend warrior homeowner.
While some homeowners can do very professional quality work, their are others that should have left the job to a professional.
It is common to go into some homes and see homeowner renovations from laminate floor installation, basement remodels, decks and even complete kitchen renovations or bathroom remodels.
Where a problem arises from our weekend warriors doing their own homeowner repairs and renovations is in performing inferior work and now the homeowner is trying to sell their home getting and trying to get full retail value from the poorly done repairs and renovations.
I recently wrote an article that is a great companion to this article, called smart renovations. I talked about assessing whether a renovation or rehab will help the bottom line of your home when it comes time to sell or if you spent a whole lot of money for nothing.
I touched on home owners tackling repairs and renovations, but want to take it even farther. Not many full renovations will earn you dollar for dollar upon resale and there are many factors to consider.
I tell most of my clients to always think about resale. Even if you think this may be your forever home, circumstances arise in life. As your largest asset, you will want to protect the value of your home now and in the future.
Consider very carefully any major project you do on your home and how it will affect your homes value. Is the money for your project well spent and does it increase the appeal and value of your home?
If you are performing the work yourself, can you complete the repair or renovation in a craftsmen like manner?
Your agent will also be happy to discuss any projects you have in mind and how it will impact the value of your home.
Of course their are certain people who enjoy doing the work themselves and get great satisfaction out of completing a project to perfection. But for most homeowners, doing the DIY repair or renovation, it is to save money.
They think by completing many of these repairs and tasks on their own they will save money.
Now there can be some truth to that, but I also found over the years that sometimes hiring the appropriate professional to do the work can be around the same money as doing it yourself.
For example. I planned on finishing my attic on a third floor and one large task was insulating the attic to code. This was an old victorian and the job was not clear cut.
I was not looking forward to the task and priced out the job with the a local insulation company. The actual cost from the insulation company was only about 10% more for them to do the work. I did not have to worry about getting supplies to the attic, installation or removing all the debris after the installation. Because the company was highly specialized it was obviously buying building materials for less than I could. The extra $180 dollars was well worth it for me.
So what I discovered over the years as a homeowner, is if you can find a company that specializes in one specific task, like insulation or framing, etc… it may not cost you much more money to have the professional do the work than to do on your own. Get the quote so you can at least make the comparison and make an educated decision.
Before tackling any home repair or renovation yourself have an honest talk with yourself about your actual skills and abilities. Do you actually have the skills to properly complete the task?
Also, will you be willing to take the time to learn how to do the job properly? Seemingly simple tasks can be more complicated than you think.
A common and popular DIY, home improvement project is installing laminate floors. Yet as a real estate agent I see so many botched laminate floor installations, leading to premature failure of the job or worse just a bad looking job. Not following instructions causes early failure in the laminate floor. While installing laminate floors does not require expensive tools and it is fairly easy there are some pretty exacting steps to be followed for a perfect installation.
Deck installations seem to be another big DIY projects for homeowners. It is certainly more complicated than installing laminate floors. As agents we see decks not flashed, lagged bolted to the house improperly, not sitting on proper footings, not finished in a professional manner, permits not obtained, undersized joists and columns…. the list goes on.
Or tile floors installed by the homeowner…. None of the lines are straight, the gaps are not even and some of the tiles are raised due to not setting the tile properly. A seemingly simple job can end up detracting from your homes value and appeal.
Also do you have the tools to complete the job properly. If not, can you rent the proper professional tool? Having access to the proper tools for your repair or renovations can make all the difference in the world.
Another homeowner mistake when doing a DIY project is choosing the wrong material for the job.
Something so seemingly easy as painting can go awry easily. There is nothing worse than a semi-gloss paint on interior walls of a home. While semi-gloss paint is easy to clean it shows every little flaw in the wall as well as have distracting reflections. The proper choice is a matte paint or possibly a very low luster or eggshell.
Laminate floors are another misused material. It should be avoided in any place with high moisture or potential of water penetration like mud rooms, front entrances, baths and even kitchens. Laminate floors just cannot handle any water penetration at all.
Decks are another area that we see products misused. A common mistake a homeowner will make is not using pressure treated or some other rot resistant wood for decking, joists and columns. Regular pine will rot and be an easy target for insects in no time at all.
Fully research the materials and their proper uses before installing. Even a professional looking project can lose its appeal quickly if the wrong material was used for the job.
When tackling certain repairs or renovations on your home make sure you pull the appropriate permits. Permits ensure that the work is done in a safe and proper manner. It is not a step you want to skip to save some time and a few bucks.
Secondly, there are some projects that will put your insurance at risk if something happens. If your performed electrical work with out permits and a fire occurs or plumbing work where water damage occurs and the insurance company finds you did the work without a permit, they will not pay the claim.
There is nothing worse than walking into a home with buyers when the listing sheet boasts, new kitchen, bathroom or basement remodel only to find the work is sub par. The homeowner has spent countless hours and thousands of dollars on materials only to have home buyers reject it.
When a home buyer sees new kitchen, new bath in a description online their expectation was that it has been performed to a certain standard by the appropriate professional. And, furthermore are turned off by the fact the work that was done in a very sloppy and improper way.
I am not talking about homeowner projects that have been completed in a workmanlike manner and has been properly permitted. There are certainly plenty of homeowners that have completed renovation projects on their own that have been done with the utmost care and craftsmanship.
When it comes time to sell your home, the shoddy, unsafe or inferior work completed by a homeowner is going to cost you money when it comes time to sell. Most buyers will not want to take on your poor workmanship or uncompleted projects.
There is definitely a difference between a professionally design and renovated kitchen vs a poorly thought out and executed kitchen.
You have wasted all that time, and money on materials for nothing.
Always, always think about resale from buying your home, to repairing your home to renovating your home. Protect your asset.
One of the ways of protecting that asset is making sure the work that is being done on your home is done in a professional manner. Either by hiring a professional or taking the time to assess if you have the ability, time and the tools to complete the work on your own in a professional manner.
Saving a few hundred or even thousands of dollars in labor may backfire on you if the work is done improperly. Inferior work done by a homeowner will be rejected by buyers and in some cases require you to partially redo or fix your inferior workmanship.
In the end it won’t save you a dime. It will end up costing you time and money.
The Weekend Warrior- Homeowner Repairs and Renovations Come Resale Time is provided by Kevin Vitali a Massachusetts REALTOR located in Tewksbury MA. If you would like to sell your home or buy a new home give me a call at 978-360-0422 and let’s get the process started.
Real Estate Services in the following areas: Northeast Massachusetts, Merrimack Valley, North Shore and Metrowest. Including the following communities and the surrounding area- Amesbury, Andover, Billerica, Burlington, Chelmsford, Dracut, Groveland, Haverhill, Lowell, Melrose, Merrimac, Methuen, Middleton, North Andover, North Reading, Reading, Stoneham, Tewksbury, Tyngsborough, Wakefield, Wilmington, Westford
Brett MaloneyMarch 20, 2018
Another Great Article Kevin!
Most DIYers have the best intention when remodeling and renovating but many are not aware of building codes (electrical, structural, plumbing and HVAC) and often create unsafe conditions.
Massachusetts RealtorMarch 20, 2018
Thanks for stopping by Brett!! There are certainly things a homeowner should probably not tackle on their own. I am sure as a Massachusetts home inspector you have seen some pretty poor workmanship from homeowners.
Gabe SandersMarch 24, 2018
Excellent tips, Kevin. I learned my lesson about this the hard way when I sold my Marblehead home and needed after the fact permits for my work.
Massachusetts RealtorMarch 24, 2018
Gabe thanks for sharing that. I don’t think homeowners really understand what a problem it can be when permits arent pulled on home renovations. I actually had a home lose its occupancy permit when the fire department came in for a smoke certificate a few years back.
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