While we are taking a bit of a break from working on the Myrtle House, I wanted to take a second to discuss what we have learned so far during this renovation process. Hopefully I can save you all some headaches if you ever take on a similar project down the road. ;)
When we first started the renovation, I was in the mindset of us doing 100% of the work ourselves minus the major systems (electrical, HVAC, plumbing). However, now that we are halfway through, I have reconsidered. Here are some things to think about (that we did not) to help save you some pennies.
- What is this project REALLY going to cost for you to DIY?
Sure, you could save some money by tackling this project yourself, but have you thought about the hidden costs associated with it? Do you have to buy a lot of tools you may never use again to get it done? Do you have to rent a truck to get the supplies to the house? Sometimes it may end up being more cost effective to have a pro with the right equipment do it for you.
- Consider the distance from you to the project location.
This was a big money-suck for us. We live three hours away from the Myrtle House. Every time we go down to work, we end up spending about $60 on gas and $30 on food/caffeine. So just the travel cost of going to the house was almost $100. That travel expense adds up over time and could pay for a lot of labor instead of you doing the work.
- Know where to shop.
Please, whatever you do, never buy something from a big box store without looking at Craigslist or a salvage/re-store first. You can usually buy things for about 50-90% off retail prices by buying used. What I have usually found (especially with vintage architectural salvage) is that the quality is sooo much better than you find in a Lowes or Home Depot. You can find things like cabinets, doors, tile, furniture, windows - pretty much anything. Trust me, you will save a ton by starting at these places first.
- Overestimate on everything.
Things will usually cost twice as much as you think they will and take three times as long to complete. Always cushion your budget by a good 10% for unexpected things behind the walls.
- Have a good contractor.
Make sure to find someone who has excellent reviews/recommendations. Also make sure he or she is someone you trust.
- Try to repurpose everything.
Old cabinets? Re-face them. Collapsing sheds covered in barnwood? Use it as decking. Damaged pine subfloors? Make a custom dining table! We are doing all of the above in the Myrtle House. That is the beauty of an old home; the materials are so substantial, they can be re-purposed into new and durable things.
- Take people up on their offer to help.
This was hard for me as I am a pretty proud and stubborn person. But when someone offers to help you demo, paint, or offer services they are experienced in, take them up on it! Throw in some adult beverages to show your appreciation. It will be neat to look back and think to when your dad/brother/best friend helped work on that project with you.