Setting Expectations for Quality in a Home Renovation

Whenever we’re outside working on the yard, our neighbors always ask about the progress we’ve made on the renovation, commenting on the saws that have become a staple of our lead walk or what they see us hauling in from the truck each weekend. DIY draws attention and it’s very rewarding! 

Despite having high standards for our own, non-professional work, it is always important to set the right expectation for how the final product will turn out. The flips that you see on HGTV look immaculate because they’re professional and while you can replicate some aspects of that work, it’s likely not going to be the same if you do it yourself.

In any DIY project, it’s important to begin by taking stock of what you feel comfortable and uncomfortable completing yourself. For example, if you’re renovating a bathroom, you probably want to call a plumber to help you with any changes to underground or behind the wall plumbing issues. But, you might be comfortable laying the shower tile and installing the new vanity and sink yourself. 

Do you expect the plumber’s work to be perfect? Yes, especially because you can’t have your shower leaking or flooding and you paid a professional to do professional work. Do you expect your tile and sink to be perfect? No, but if your guests can’t see the pipes under the sink, it might not matter as much. 

Everything you see here – except for materials – is completely DIY!

DIY is a money-saving tactic and you have to decide where you’re willing to save money on quality. This isn’t an excuse for bad or lazy workmanship, but you can’t sweat an imperfect paint job or a slightly uneven tile if you’re doing something on your own. It’s a part of the learning process – and the fun! As mentioned earlier though, you should absolutely expect near perfection and professionalism if you hire a contractor or tradesman to complete a project. You’re investing money in their ability to deliver and that’s what they need to do. 

If you’re newer to DIY, start by completing early projects in areas that might not draw as much attention. If you’re looking to learn drywall repair, start inside a closet where the end result will be blocked by clothes or storage bins. You wouldn’t want to start out with redoing the whole ceiling of your bedroom that you’ll find yourself staring at every morning and night.

When we were in the midst of our kitchen renovation, we found ourselves on the high end of our budget and needed to find places to save. We initially planned to have our island professionally painted, but we decided to paint it ourselves to save on cost. Instead of buying a paint sprayer that a professional likely would have used, we opted for a high-quality paint and primer from Farrow and Ball and a fine roller to get the cleanest finish possible without a sprayer. We knew that with the lighting and layout, there’d be very few angles that would allow you to see some of the small paint imperfections and texture from a roller. 

We decided to paint our kitchen island ourselves, saving a portion of our budget for finishing other parts of the kitchen or if we had an emergency situation later on.

Looking at it now, most people wouldn’t notice the imperfections at all unless they wanted to get under the cabinets with a flashlight. If a professional would’ve given us a 10/10 finish, we pulled off a solid 7/10. For us, doing it ourselves for about $200 and two days of work was much better for our budget than the quote we received for $1200. By choosing to DIY our paint job, we were able to keep our slightly upgraded appliances that we had been looking forward to for months.

As we mentioned in one of our previous posts, your budget will be full of negotiations in order to maximize your vision within your budget. Figuring out where you can or can’t DIY sometimes depends on where you can or can’t compromise on quality. We’d love to think that everything we make is perfect, but it’s far from the truth. We have prioritized stretching our budget through the projects knowing that we might have an occasional out of level tile or bubble in the paint finish, but this is all a part of the DIY process and all a learning experience.

Where have you compromised on quality to save on budget? We’d love to hear your crafty ways of DIY-ing your own spaces to save!

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