March 8, 2015

Home improvement - handywoman sanding wooden floor in workshopIf you are building or contracting a new home yourself for the first time, doing some of the work may sounds appealing. It’s easy to watch the professional work and think, ‘Wow, I could do that myself!’ That’s not always the case, though. The old adage that professionals make any job look easy is often true! Also, keep in mind that you are already saving substantial money by contracting your home yourself, and that you will be spending considerable time in your job as general contractor.

But if you have additional time and an inclination to do a few items along the way, then more power to you! Of course, if you have experience with various construction trades, then by all means go ahead and do them yourself. But if you don’t, be careful. It’s important to end up with a quality product and if you are not experienced doing certain things, then disaster can strike! If you decide to tackle a few projects, at the very least plan to take a quick course on the task. Home Depot and Lowes both offer free clinics and step-by-step guides on their websites on such topics as tile installation and painting. The following is a guide to some of the easier tasks along with some of the jobs you should definitely leave to the professionals!

Jobs to consider doing:

Installing silt fencing: If your jurisdiction requires silt fencing for erosion control (and many do these days), you might consider doing this task yourself. There are certain rules you must follow, so be sure to ask.

Rough stake-out: You can do this yourself as long as you are certain that the lot lines are accurately marked.

Landscaping: Consider installing the landscaping yourself. In fact, you might even do a better job planting since the plants belong to you! You may however, need to hire someone with a tractor to smooth the ground for the final grade.

Clean up: You’ll need to clean the job site along the way after various stages of construction. Often this means having a dumpster delivered to the job site and then filling it up with debris. You will also have the final clean at the end of construction before you move in. This job includes scraping paint off windows, scrubbing bathroom, cleaning floors, etc. It’s harder work than you might imagine, but could be worth the money you will save.

Jobs that require some skills but could be learned:

Painting: Most of us have tackled a painting task somewhere along the way and realize that a quality paint job takes some skill! But with a little practice and patience, you can attempt this job yourself. You might consider hiring a professional to paint the outside if you have a two story home that requires ladders, etc.

Interior Trim: If you’ve had a little experience doing some simple carpentry tasks and you are not planning to install elaborate moldings, then you might consider doing at least some of the trim work yourself. You should feel comfortable using a power miter saw (and own one too!). If you have stairs, you might want to hire that job out.

Cabinets: If you plan to use pre-manufactured cabinets that come in boxes or that have to be put together, then you might consider installing them yourself. This is a tougher job that you might think though. You’ll need to make sure any upper cabinets and installed square and plumb using vice grips to hold things in place. This is really a two person job!

Tile work: If you plan to use fiberglass tub enclosures and do not have a large amount of tile to install then this is another job to consider tackling. You’ll need a tile cutter and perhaps a tile saw (which can be rented for the project). If you have a stall shower that requires a shower pan and a tile floor, you should probably leave this job for the pros. Establishing proper drainage and knowing how to work with the pan materials are musts for this tack.

Jobs to leave for the professionals.

Unless you are skilled and experienced with the following tasks, plan to leave them for the professionals: Foundations, pouring concrete, framing, masonry, roofing, and all the mechanicals (plumbing, HVAC, and electrical) which require licenses to perform. Making certain that the house is built level and square and that it’s safe to inhabit is your main objective!