Lee and I bought our first house a few weeks ago. It had big windows, open spaces, plenty of room for our growing family…. beat up walls, black doors and trim, and a yard half filled with dead grass. We had the vision of what it could become, and figured we could do the renovations ourselves.
Now that we’re three weeks into it, I wanted to give an update of how it’s going and some tips for anyone else looking to do the same thing.
Triple How Long You Think It Will Take
If you’re doing something new, like renovating your house, there are going to be a lot of things you’re not going to expect. You can’t accommodate for things you don’t know yet, so any timeline you create for your project is going to be off, sometimes by a lot. If you have a hard deadline to finish by, give yourself A LOT more time than you think it will take to make sure you don’t run over.
For example, In our new house, I’m repainting the entire interior. I decided on using a paint sprayer to make the job quicker, but I significantly underestimated the amount of time it would take to mask everything off. I thought it would take a few days, but I didn’t know how long it would take to mask off the stairs, bathroom fixtures, remove light switch covers, scrape off old paint, or re-caulk cracked edges. The lady who we bought the house from was an artist, so she had painting hung EVERYWHERE. I never would have assumed it was going to take more than one day just to fill all the nail holes she left.
So, when it comes to creating a timeline, assume there are going to be a lot of things you’re not going to account for and give yourself time to handle them the right way. If you end up rushing, you’ll likely end up with results you’re not going to be happy with.
Give Yourself Time Off
If you’re doing your renovation projects during your time off, don’t forget to actually give yourself a break. I’m now three weeks into our projects and yesterday I realized I hadn’t taken a day off of work or renovating in the last 3 weeks. It finally made sense why I’ve been waking up tired even after getting enough sleep.
This is another reason to assume your project will take longer than estimated. When you first start a project, it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of doing something new and work longer hours than normal, but that’s only sustainable for so long.
Watch A LOT of Tutorials
Before starting any renovation projects you don’t have any experience with, you can save a lot of time by first watching all the online tutorials you can find. The time you spend learning about it will save you A LOT of time when it comes to actually doing the work. Don’t just watch one and think you’re done either. There are a lot of different ways to do the same job, and just because someone uploaded a video to YouTube doesn’t mean they know what they’re doing. Watch multiple and see who you think did it best, and what tools they used.
That’s the method I’ve been using for all of our projects so far and the amount of time their tips and tools have saved me has been MASSIVE.
Buy The Right Tools
Now that you know how to do it, make sure you spend the money to get the right tools. If you aren’t able to buy the right tools, you can always try renting them from someone like Home Depot. If you don’t have the money to rent them, you may want to think about saving up until you do.
In most cases, trying to do a job without the right tools is going to take a lot longer, give worse results, and, depending on what you’re doing, actually be dangerous.
Know when to Hire Someone Else
Just because you can do it, doesn’t mean you should. I’m willing to do quite a bit, but I draw the line when it gets unnecessarily dangerous. We’re in the process of painting our entire house, and I decided to hire someone to paint our living room and foyer, because we have 18.5 ft ceilings. Painting tall ceilings at the top of a ladder alone in a house didn’t sound like a great idea. If I fell off the ladder, noone would be there to hear me fall… and that probably won’t turn out well. Decide where you draw the line and get multiple bids from other people to get what you need done.
Renovation work can expose you to a lot of different things that can hurt you. Inhaling fumes, getting chemicals in your eyes, loud noises, or even just kneeling for long periods of time can cause damage that may never go away. Don’t shirk on the safety equipment. Even if you don’t notice anything immediately, doesn’t mean damage isn’t being done.
I’ve been using knee pads, ear plugs, gloves, respirators, splash goggles…and even a full body Tyvek suit. Noone enjoys sweating inside a respirator mask, but it beats dealing with the long-term effect inhaling some of the chemicals can cause. Stay safe. You’ll be glad you did in 30 years.
So that’s it for now. We still have a lot of renovation work ahead of us, so if you want to follow along check out my Instagram Stories here. (You’ll need to actually use the Instagram app – the website doesn’t let you watch Stories)