Doing it Yourself: If it Were Easy, Everyone Would Do It

By: Mark Clement , Contributing Writer
In: Old Houses, Home Improvement Tips

The Bathroom Remodeling Checklist blog post generated some cool replies from both contractors and homeowners. One struck a cord:

A reader mentioned that she didn’t notice a remodeling checklist in the post. I could be mis-interpreting this (as Colin pointed out) and if so, I apologize. If I am interpreting it right, however, Meri raises an excellent point for people working on their own homes because she says she didn’t see a checklist. In other words, she didn’t see the forest-for-the-trees and this is a huge home improvement hurdle.

How Routine Can Hinder the DIYer’s Remodeling Project

I wrote The Bathroom Remodeling Checklist from my perspective as a licensed contractor. However, it is important that DIYers follow the advice–and the underlying mojo of preparation–too. Here’s why: when you’re working on your own home you’re throwing a monkey wrench into your daily routine. And, as much as things change with design details, demolition and bathroom fans, daily habits often remain painfully, unproductively the same. I’ve seen this cause mountains of problems from execution to budget over-runs to spousal spats.

For example let’s say you’re planning to work on the bathroom all day. What happens if Fido gets walked at 7, the kids’ bus comes at 8, your spouse calls, the neighbor needs something, and you’re desperate for coffee? 10 AM comes and goes before you even touch a tool.

The Contractor’s Difference when Remodeling

That’s pretty much the reason most contractors are early birds. We load the truck, beat traffic, get the freshest Joe, and we’re working early enough in the day so that when the inevitable happens–missing material, a dull blade, a weird detail–we’re as ready as possible with as much daylight as possible.

Parenthetically, we have several other advantages: because we do this every day we are, ostensibly, further along the home improvement learning curve. This makes us more efficient at everything from hauling debris to making difficult decisions.

To make the point another way, sheets of drywall don’t get hung nor bath furniture set while you’re checking one last email, talking on the phone, or just spending 5 extra minutes switching the laundry because you’re walking by and you might as well. If you want to make any kind of time–and a bathroom is where a balance of speed and quality is usually critical–daily habits need to be looked at and changed to help shepherd the project through.

Otherwise, plan for this: one long, over-budget, really difficult home improvement project. This isn’t to say it can’t be done. On the contrary, it can! The reality though is that it’s not easy.

If it were, everyone would do it.