In Your Image: Renovating Your New Home

In Your Image: Renovating Your New Home
Renovation feature
Photo By Andrew W.

By now you've probably realized that making a home for yourself is a bit more involved than just buying a house and hooking up the cable. Start with these streetwise guidelines and create a refuge that represents you.

By David Plough

After you've found and bought a new home the first thing you're going to want to do is remodel it. To turn the house into a reflection of yourself. Doing so takes a lot of time, patience, energy, and money. The rewards are great, but in the meantime you're going to be tired and broke. This article isn't meant to be an all inclusive guide to what you have to do to finish a place, but it is a good starters guide and a way to help cosmetically enhance your home.

Some houses may just need some paint here or there, others may need new flooring, and some may need to gain/lose a wall or two. Before you start making these decisions you have to consider whether you want to DiY (Do It Yourself) or call in the pros. Keep in mind the positives and negatives of both. If you hire out you should get it all done quicker, and you won't have to make nearly as many trips to the local Lowes. If you DiY it you are not dependent on anyone other then yourself (and maybe a few friends), it should end up costing less, and you get a real satisfaction when you can finally sit back and look at what you've done. In my case, we completely remolded our house and did most all of it. The only thing we hired out for was the carpet.

Photo By Forbes Creative

The Walls

I am going to focus on the more adventurous of you out there, the DiY'ers. What you want to do first is decide what needs done. Any painting, sanding, dry walling, or “dirty work” should be done before you move on and do any carpet. If you decide to have carpet put in right away and then paint, you are either going to end up with paint all over the floor or you are going to be walking on plastic for days. Any dry walling or dirty work will cause you to either vacuum constantly or have to get the carpet cleaned as soon as you are done. I would also suggest if you have hardwood or tiling that you get it done before putting in carpet. Those jobs tend to lend themselves to a lot of traffic treading through the house.

Now when it comes to painting remember to get a good primer on your walls before painting. Kilz is my personal favorite. It covers everything and leaves nothing but white walls and a good buzz from the toxic fumes. Another good tip would be to make sure you paint and primer in well ventilated areas. If you have ceiling fans keep them going and open windows, lots of windows. One last thing, remember that lighter, more reflective colors can make a room seem bigger than it is.

If you have to do dry wall, find a friend who knows what they are doing. Dry walling is an art. You can walk into many houses and tell immediately that someone did their own work. Poorly sanded panels aren't always very obvious while you are hanging the wall, or even while you are sanding it down, but as soon as it is painted you can see all. A good tip a friend of mine gave me is to take a bright flashlight and shine it at an angle on your drywall. The light brings out shadows on rougher edges you may not be able to see in regular light or feel by touch.

Mudding your dry wall is something that seems all fun and games until you get started. While you don't notice it immediately, you will eventually realize you have no idea what you're doing or if you're even doing it right. This is one case where a three minute Bob Vila online video is no help. Heed my words, find a friend who does or has done this for a living. The help and advice they give you is invaluable.

The Floors

Now I cannot speak much for the carpet, as mentioned above, we had installers come and lay ours down. I would suggest everybody else do the same. Every person I talked to told me to have a pro take care of that. The tools required don't seem all that expensive, but the carpet is. If you mess something up, well that's a pretty penny coming out of your pocket. If installers mess something up, there is a good chance they can either fix it or they will be paying for the new carpet.

Tiling and hardwood floors are a beast all of their own. When deciding if you want either, there are too many options to really mention. With hardwood flooring I suggest getting some of the snap together laminate (if you are DiYing that also). This is relatively inexpensive, the wood is already padded on the bottom, and it fits together like Legos. The only thing you have to do is measure and cut. With tile I suggest buying decent ceramic tile and having a knowledgeable friend do most of the work. You should lay down your own backing board before they show up, buy them a lot of beer for when the job is done, and stay out of their way. If they need your help they will ask.

If you do any or all of this your house will be a better place where you can truly relax and take pride in what you have done. The work is hard, but it is with reward.