You bought your first home — congrats! But, it needs some work — oh, no!
The first piece of good news is that you are not alone. Fewer people are buying turn-key, social media-perfect homes these days, due to factors like budget and low inventory. The housing market is extra-competitive right now across the country, leading a lot of first-time homebuyers to take on fixer-uppers — or homes that just need a little bit of work. But, renovating gives you the chance to customize your place to your taste, and can even increase the value of your home.
The other good news: Renovating doesn’t have to be scary. You can do lots of it yourself. Here are expert tips to guide you through the renovating process, including what to DIY, what to leave to the pros, and how to get started.
That home inspector you hired to tell you everything that was wrong with your home before you bought it? Get them to come back for a more detailed, second inspection.
“Pay them to go over it again, this time with a list of what needs to be done, and when they think it should be done. Ask them to number it for you. Now you have a complete list of what you need to do, and in what order it needs to be done,” says Cristina Miguelez, a remodeling specialist with Fixr.com, which provides cost guides for remodeling projects.
While this kind of inspection does cost more than a pre-sale home inspection, it’s worth it for the expert plan of attack.
With a plan in hand, you can now make a budget. Go into as much detail as possible and research the possible costs for each item. This kind of detail can help you get extra clarity on what needs to be done now, and what can wait.
As you budget, know that some renovations, such as installing smart home systems or replacing your plumbing, may qualify you for discounts on your home insurance with carriers like American Family Insurance, freeing up funds for other reno must-haves.
If your inspection reveals structural or system-wide things that need work, get those done first. And, unless you’ve got the skills or experience to do it, hire professionals — not just for plumbing and electrical, but for roofing, foundation repairs, any work with gas lines, and even replacing and installing most appliances.
“Dealing with 220 volt electrical lines and live gas lines is extremely dangerous,” says Ralph Severson, owner of Flooring Masters and Professional Remodelers. “There are risks of electrocution, explosion or carbon monoxide poisoning. Call the pros.”
Luckily, there are several remodeling projects that can have a huge impact and are also pretty simple to DIY.
Painting is one way to DIY a dramatic change. With a little research and prep, you can tackle entire rooms or even the exterior of your home.
Don’t have the budget or the time to replace your kitchen cabinets? You can paint those, too.
“Simply painting the walls and cabinets along with replacing the cabinet hardware can give it a budget facelift. This can easily be completed in a weekend so your day-to-day life is relatively unaffected,” Severson says.
Removing wallpaper isn’t difficult, but it is time-consuming and messy. Putting up new wallpaper requires precision but is easier with the peel-and-stick varieties on the market today.
Some projects are a little more involved, and a great way to level-up on our DIY skills.
Experts agree most flooring overhauls are better left to the pros, although laminate, cork, and bamboo are more DIY-friendly.
In the bathroom, you can paint walls and cabinets, or stain grout for a tile makeover. Replacing tiles can be tricky, especially in the shower, where mistakes in waterproofing can harm the structure of your home.
“My advice is to tile the laundry or entryway floors first. Tile the kitchen backsplash first. Get familiar with how tile is to work with, cutting the tiles, and the different products,” says James Upton, a bathroom renovation specialist.
Lighting is another DIY way to see some impact. Just make sure to take the necessary safety precautions, which include cutting off power to the room via your home’s electrical panel, not touching anything in the open fixtures until you’ve tested the area with a handheld voltage tester, and insulating coupled wires with wire caps.
“Few things transform a room and build your renovation confidence quicker than picking out a light fixture that speaks to you and installing it yourself. It’s the perfect DIY quickie project, and you can do it on day one,” says Chris Alexakis, a certified building contractor.
Don’t let your home’s renovation needs ruin your new home euphoria. Make a plan, trust experts, and embrace being a DIYer. You’ll have a home you love even more.
This article was written by Marla Caceres for American Family Insurance from Lifehacker and was legally licensed through the Industry Dive publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.