When times are tough...
...The tough do it themselves. And times are definitely tough at the moment. With property values in the doldrums, many homeowners are sitting tight and taking the option to improve rather than move.
Tackling your own home improvements can save you a bundle - as long as they are done professionally. If you lack knowledge and experience it is sometimes better to call in the experts rather than end up with a finished project that actually devalues your home.
If you are planning to do-it-yourself, here are a few dos and don'ts to consider:
DO think of resale value
Although you may be happy in your home now, there may come a time when you need to upgrade or downscale. Keep any remodelling projects in line with modern trends and put some thought into what's practical. Sometimes being too 'unique' can result in a house that won't sell, so design your home improvement projects to ensure you can recoup your investment later down the line. If painted facebrick walls float your boat then go for it but also consider whether or not you want to live with your choice for the next ten years.
DON'T go over budget
Look at various other properties in your area that have done similar improvements and how much was spent. Then set yourself a budget. Try not to spend more than 15 percent of the market value of your home on a kitchen project and not more than 5 to 10 percent on a master bathroom project. By limiting yourself to working within the budget you won't be tempted to overspend, and ultimately overvalue your property. Establishing your priorities in this way will help decide where to spend the money.
DO look at your options
If you are planning to do-it-yourself, shop around for the best deals - and that doesn't necessarily mean the cheapest! Look through magazines and save photos of rooms, products and floor plans that catch your eye. Visit design centres and supplier showrooms. Build an idea file of the things that appeal to you. The idea file will help you create a context, a look and feel that best reflects your personal tastes and will act as a stimulus and constant reference point for your plan.
Know exactly what you want before you search for it so you're not tempted to buy out of your range. Uncertainty may leave you vulnerable to purchasing unnecessary products and to choosing materials that go beyond your means. Know what features are most important to you and your family so it's easier to choose when the time comes. There's an abundance of different appliances that offer different features but most will get the job done, so if you're budget doesn't allow it, don't pick anything too fancy or high-tech. Visit showrooms to see the products and materials in person in order to determine the quality of what you're buying before you buy it. Magazine and Internet photos are not as reliable as they may seem and may be overpriced for what you're getting.
DO consider your lifestyle
Do the materials on your wish list match your lifestyle and your willingness to clean and maintain them. Learn about the durability and maintenance requirements of your selected materials before you purchase and install them.
DO remember to plan
Despite what you may have seen on the TV remodelling a home cannot be done in a weekend - especially if you are doing-it-yourself! Take into consideration the time involved for each project: not being able to use a bathroom or the kitchen for a month, putting up with building rubble and dust. So, be honest with yourself – do you really have the skill set and time to start and complete a remodel yourself? If your answer is no, then enlist professionals to help you with your project.