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Home Renovations: What You Can, And What You Shouldn't Do

If you’re buying an older home that needs a little TLC, there are many things you can do to make it your own. But there are also repairs, renovations, and restorations that are best left to the pros–those who specialize in construction.

Shoddy or incomplete repairs can cost you more in the long run. Worse, faulty home renovations can put your family at risk.


Renovations you should outsource:


Building Additions


Many older homes are smaller than what current standards dictate. Adding an extra room is an option to increase space. However, the construction process involves intimate knowledge of architecture and building codes. Never attempt to erect a structure on your property without the proper knowledge or permits. If you aren’t sure about the codes in your area, BuildingsGuide.com offers a list of resources to help you determine local regulations.


A separate garage or workshop is another smart improvement that can increase the value of your property while helping to keep your vehicle safe and your primary dwelling clear of clutter. When considering a freestanding building, determine which type of building material will work best and that offers the most bang for your building buck. Steel buildings, for example, are affordable, customizable, resistant to the elements, and built to last, whereas wooden structures have a shorter lifespan when exposed to the elements, especially in areas prone to heavy rain and/or snowfall.


Major System Malfunctions


The major systems in your home include the HVAC, electrical, and plumbing. Each of these requires intimate knowledge and, in many cases, a license to repair. In the case of electrical, one mistake can lead to tragedy. Similarly, improperly-sealed pipes can lead to moisture, which can cause mold growth and wood rot. Water-damaged subflooring may be repairable at home, but only if you have the right tools.


HVAC system repairs also require in-depth training. According to Study.com, heating and air-conditioning professionals are required to hold a certificate or associate’s degree in HVAC technology, and must also be licensed to work with refrigerants.


Structural Damage


The fact that structural damage puts your home at risk of collapse cannot be underscored enough. Only a contractor experienced in foundation and structural repairs should ever attempt to correct these issues.




If you’re handy, you can tackle many common remodeling projects on your own. Even more advanced repairs, such as installing new windows, aren’t off the table. Give these a go!


Drywall Replacement


Sometimes, damage to the home’s interior may look structural, but is superficial and simply requires drywall replacement. Whether it gets wet after heavy flooding or was damaged during the move, if you’re careful, you can easily repair even large holes. The Manual’s Bryan Holt offers tips here.


New Flooring


When you decide you don’t like your home’s existing flooring, it’s not that difficult to replace. It does, however, require patience, tools, and precise measurements. Tile is one of the easiest, yet most labor-intensive, types of material to install, but you must take the time to prepare the floor surface correctly or the tiles will crack. Sheet vinyl and carpet are also easy to DIY.


Window Installation


Depending on the age of the property, you may or may not wish to replace the windows. If you’ve purchased a historical home, you‘re probably better off finding someone who can clean and repair them. If your house was built in the 1950s or later, you can replace the windows in a few hours each. Larger windows require multiple people, while a small bathroom or basement window can be tackled solo. Lowe’s offers window installation instructions and tips on removing the existing window.


To Summarize


There are many advantages of buying an older home in need of a little updating, including that you have a chance to make it your own. You can make these updates one at a time without paying out of pocket all at once. Whatever you decide, pick your proverbial battles wisely, and don’t be afraid to call in the pros for the big stuff.

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