Home improvement projects, whether they are strictly cosmetic or repair/renovation jobs require research. Sometimes we aren’t even clear what questions we need to be asking or what exactly we need to research. Whether it is flooring or countertops, wall covering or a dated ceiling, there are options that we may not even be aware of.
Home improvement, building and design, is a vast industry. As a professional, who lives and breathes the options and considerations out there, product development and new information is being dispersed at a pace that is nearly impossible to keep up with.
I had the opportunity recently to speak to the owner of a local flooring company. I walked in with outmoded information about carpeting and came out understanding that there have been astounding improvements; from construction and durability to the ecological advances (recycled and recyclable products) and designs. Did you know that, allergy considerations are now a reason to have carpet! There are air purifying, virus destroying microbes, and some carpeting if paired with the right padding comes with a lifetime warranty!
Rule #1 Do your research, it pays. Get on the internet. Pick up a magazine or talk to the salesperson in your local home improvement center. Go to a specialty store, appropriate to your specific project needs, ask questions and pick up anything that might give you more information. I know they can be dry and too technical but READ the brochures; you will be amazed to find some of those questions you didn’t know you needed to ask.
Rule # 2 Buyer Beware. Are you really comparing apples to apples? Is the brand name toilet at Home Depot really the same toilet as the one at your local plumbing store? Ask! Get the model numbers. Often, you are not getting the best value for the lowest priced item. Comparison shop either on-line or directly through a local retailer. You may want to consider a publication such as, Consumer Report Magazine, depending on the scope of your project and the areas of expertise that you are going to need to research.
Rule #3 Know your total costs. Cost is usually one of the top considerations, but are you really looking at the full cost? What is the longevity of a particular product and what kind of maintenance costs can you expect? Are you going to have to replace it in one year or ten? Is there a warranty and if so, what are the limitations? As with brochure information, you can unearth some considerations about a product that you were not aware of by really reading the terms of warranty. What do they mean by “proof” and “resistant” terminology can have different meaning from one manufacturer to the next.
Is delivery and installation included and if not, what is that going to add to the bottom line?
Rule #4 DIY Project, is it really a do-it-yourself project, now that we’ve mentioned installation? What is the best use of your time and energy given your skill set, level of interest, capabilities and timelines? There are books written and comedy acts that feed off of self proclaimed “do-it-yourself” projects gone awry that are hilarious, but not so funny when it’s your own kitchen that is messed up and you’ve just flushed money and time down the drain. Be as clear as you can about understanding what the scope of your project is. Take at honest look, are you the best candidate for this job, or do you need professional expertise? Might be, it’s a combination, you hire the expert to hang and tape your drywall and then do the painting yourself.
Implementing these 4 rules and applying them to your next home improvement project will give you a blueprint; you will be armed with the information that you need to make the right decisions ensuring that your investment of time, money and energy is well spent.