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What are some common mistakes DIY home remodelers make that stall projects?

There are several mistakes that DIY home remodelers commonly make when planning and completing home renovation projects. Here are four of the most common mistakes:

  • Underestimating costs. It is easy to go over budget if you go to the store midway through a project to buy materials and realize that prices went up following the last time you were there. A possible solution may be to buy everything at once, before you begin. Other common issues when calculating the cost of a project include underestimating the materials required, not budgeting for waste from mistakes, or forgetting to budget for the tools you need.
  • Missing job requirements. It is also common to not realize some of the requirements for a job. For example, you might plan to add an appliance or new room, but forget that you may also need to run electrical wiring or plumbing up to the new location. It can be helpful to get a professional estimate simply to flesh out all the details of a project before forging ahead.
  • Underestimating the difficulty. If you have never done a certain type of project before, it might be hard to estimate the difficulty. Videos online are usually created by experienced professionals who make everything look easy. You might underestimate the time you need, make mistakes that cost you money, or even make things worse than when you started. Being honest with yourself about whether you have the expertise to tackle your DIY project can save you time, money, and headaches.
  • Forgetting about permits. Permitting requirements vary by state, and sometimes from one city or county to the next. Some places require permits for almost any work, while others only require permits for major renovations. If you do not know whether a permit is required, you may want to ask a lawyer. Not getting a permit may result in having to start a project over from the beginning.

How do I get my stalled project across the finish line?

If you have run into problems completing your DIY project, you have options to get it across the finish line. If your project is delayed due to inspections, you may want to see if there is a process to expedite your inspections. If you failed an inspection, it can often help to hire a professional to let you know what is wrong with your work as inspectors may not always provide very clear or helpful information.

One of the most important things to acknowledge is when you are in over your head. If you are lacking in experience and are already paying for costly mistakes, that lack of experience may continue costing you beyond just getting the project done. It can be helpful to talk to friends or neighbors who have tackled similar projects, and to get several estimates from licensed professionals or experienced trade workers.

Can I hire a contractor to finish my project?

There are many reasons you may want to consider hiring a contractor to finish your remodel. It may, however, be challenging to find a contractor that wants to pick up where you left off. Some common reasons to hire a contractor to finish your project include:

  • You do not have the ability to finish a project.
  • You are worried about causing damage or hurting your home's resale value.
  • You just do not want to deal with the project anymore.
  • You started a project that turned out to involve more than you expected.
  • You damaged another part of your home.

Sometimes, hiring a contractor might be cheaper than taking on a DIY project. Contractors often get preferred pricing on materials, and work more efficiently because of their experience level. Also, contractors typically guarantee their work and are insured or bonded, so if anything goes wrong with the project, you may not be the one paying to correct it.

Can I hire a handyman, or is a licensed contractor required?

Licenses are often needed for electrical, plumbing, roofing and structural work. More complex jobs are also more likely to require a licensed contractor or permits. When it comes to smaller jobs like replacing an existing light fixture, you may be able to simply hire a handyperson.

Handypeople usually do not have a license, and sometimes they may agree to work that requires a licensed contractor or they may not obtain the required permits. You may want to consider the complexity of the job, check local laws or ask a lawyer, and read online reviews for anyone you plan to hire. If you do decide to work with a handyworker, you might consider a Handyman Contract to help protect your interests.

How to avoid problems when hiring a contractor to finish my project?

A mistake you might make is moving too quickly. You might feel pressure to get the job done or to get your home back to normal. It is still important to vet each potential contractor just like you would have done if you were starting fresh.

Keep in mind that there are some contractors who may try to take advantage of your situation. While it may cost a bit more to undo the work you started, it is good practice to get multiple quotes and not let anyone rush you into making a decision.

Also, it is important to have a detailed contract for any work. There are several different types of contracts you might want to use, depending on the type of work.

Before finalizing a contract, you may want to check that the contract minimally includes what work will be done, when it will be done, and the payment terms.

To learn more about the legal issues surrounding home renovation projects, reach out to a Rocket Lawyer network attorney for affordable legal advice.

This article contains general legal information and does not contain legal advice. Rocket Lawyer is not a law firm or a substitute for an attorney or law firm. The law is complex and changes often. For legal advice, please ask a lawyer.


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