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How To: User’s Guide to Surviving the Summer Home Project

By Lavender June 18, 2010

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For some reason, summer brings the idea that we should do some major home project. It’s nice out, so it seems nice to tear the house apart, and sweat in the summer heat. I’m not sure why this idea doesn’t occur in the winter, when you’re stuck in the house anyway, but that’s for another discussion.

So, you’ve decided you want to tackle some major home improvements this summer. Now what?

Step 1: The Plan

This is actually rather important. Going into your project with “I’ll figure it out as we go” is not an idea. It’s you being lazy, and eventually single (unless you are already single, in which case you’ll be drinking a lot of alcohol before it’s done). You need to know what you’re going to do, and how you’re going to go about it. You always can search the Internet for some inspiration, or head to your local Home Depot for some inspiration and manly eye candy. This is very crucial, because you quickly can get derailed, ending up with a totally different project than you envisioned. And let’s not forget the pocketbook.

Step 2: The Budget

Before you even lift a hammer, figure out how much this project is going to cost you. Go through the list of supplies that you have and that you’re going to need, along with any other factors you can figure out ahead of time. Any home improvement project quickly can go from a cheap endeavor to an expensive remodel. If you’re doing something major, like tearing something apart, you also will need to plan for some unexpected expenses you normally wouldn’t think of, such as damaged walls or floors you didn’t know you had prior to starting. Pad your budget for these types of things. Or sell a kidney when you realize you failed to do so.

Step 3: Measuring

Simple idea, isn’t it? But it’s where most people manage to screw everything up. Guessing the size of your room is not measuring. It’s being dumb. If you don’t own a tape measure, buy one—maybe even two. It’s important to measure everything, because once you cut…well, you can’t take it back. You either have some ugly-ass work, or must sell that aforementioned kidney.

Step 4: Receipts and Return Policies

Keep Them and Know Them! It’s important. Unless you are an expert remodeler, chances are you’re going to buy the wrong thing at least once, and need to return it. Most likely, by the end of the project, you’re going to become best friends with the cashier. So, make sure that you keep every receipt. Know exactly what you can and can’t return, as well as if you get cash back or only store credit. Unless you plan to buy everything at one place, getting store credit may be another way to spend way more than you planned.

Step 5: Beer—Or Humor

They actually both are useful things to have. At some point, the project is going to seem far too big and complicated, or you’re going to screw something up, and realize you spent a lot of time doing the completely wrong thing. Worse, the person who agreed to help you for free just destroyed your home, and you can’t fire him or her. Tensions are going to run high at some point of the project, so unless you have a way to relax and cool off, things are going to go from bad to worse.

If all else fails: Burn the house down. No, not really. But it’s just an idea I’m throwing out there. Insurance fraud is the shoplifting of the 21st Century.

Every home project is going to cause stress, but being able to sit back, and enjoy the end results, mistakes included, is going to bring a sense of pride and accomplishment that you never would get if you paid someone else to do it for you.

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