Hi, I’m Chris. I’m going to start this blog post by admitting that I am not a contractor.
I have some DIY experience and even more experience with flooring installations as a career a few years back. But when it came to my kitchen remodel, I quickly realized that there is so much more to it than just reading a few online guides and watching a few “how-to” videos.
In this blog post, I want to share with you some of the mistakes that I made during my kitchen remodel and the lessons that I learned from them. Hopefully, this will help you if you are considering doing a DIY kitchen remodel yourself!
A Little More About Me
So, let me give you a little more background about me and why I’m writing this article.
I don’t work for Calahan Bath and Kitchen. My brother, Dan Calahan is the owner and operator of Calahan Bath. He’s been in the home improvement business a long time and I’ve even helped out on a few jobs in the past (when my back was younger and could handle it).
I’ve put in flooring, installed a few backsplashes, had my fill of demo days, and changed out more under the sink plumbing than I care to remember.
Thinking I’d save some money and lean on my own experience, why not do my own kitchen remodel? With the help of YouTube and any number of DIY blogs, I figured it couldn’t be that difficult, right?
Wrong. Oh so wrong.
I made mistake after mistake and quickly realized that there is a reason why people get professional help when they remodel their kitchen!
And the reason I’m telling you all this? I’m trying to save you the frustration, body aches, and that drowning feeling you get when it seems like it’s all falling apart.
So, without further ado, here are the top three mistakes I made during my DIY kitchen remodel.
Not Having the Right Tools
The first mistake I made was I did not have the right tools.
I’m not talking about a hammer and screwdriver kind of thing (although, I did need to go out and buy a few more of those, too).
I’m talking about the big stuff – like a wet saw for cutting tile. Or an air compressor and nail gun because trying to convert a built-in desk into a coffee bar with a pull-out trash bin with a hammer is not only time-consuming, but it’s incredibly frustrating.
Also, have you ever tried cutting drywall with a utility knife? Yeah, don’t do that. Just trust me on this one. An oscillating tool would have saved me a boatload of time and spared me the cramping in my hands.
I held off as long as possible but eventually, I broke down and started spending the extra money on some of the more modern tools that most professionals swear by.
It made a world of difference and I was able to finish the rest of my remodel in half the time it would have taken me without them.
Using Cheaper Materials to Cut Costs
The next mistake I made was using cheaper materials to cut costs.
I figured, “Hey if it’s good enough for the DIY’er on YouTube, it’s good enough for me.”
It may be fine for some projects but when you’re talking about your kitchen – one of the most used rooms in your house – you want to use materials that are going to last.
I quickly learned that the hard way when I picked up some wood to build that new cabinet pull-out. Instead of using something like birch plywood or MDF boards, I got cheaper particleboard that was on sale.
It looked nice at first but it barely made it home in one piece when I dropped it in the driveway. One corner was completely smashed in. Thank God no one was nearby because I nearly lost my mind.
I didn’t think it would damage so easily so I started looking up more information on the particleboard I got and it didn’t look so good.
I decided to call my brother and that may have been a mistake. I heard the familiar pause of confusion, and then the laughter. Needless to say, he explained to me the benefits of spending a little more money on higher quality materials – like how it would actually save me money in the long run.
I begrudgingly admitted he was right and I went back to the store to get what I needed.
Not Hiring a Professional from The Start
The last, and probably most costly mistake I made, was not hiring a professional from the start.
I was so determined to DIY my kitchen remodel and save money on expenses I knew most people usually paid. I was positive I could easily do it all on my own.
But as the days went on and the mistakes kept piling up, I realized that this may have been a mistake.
I was quickly becoming overwhelmed with the sheer amount of work that needed to be done and I knew I was in over my head.
I had originally only planned on hiring a professional to install the new countertops I wanted but after my DIY disasters started piling up, I decided to just hand the entire project over to them. My frustration level was reaching a new high and my wife practically begged me to throw in the towel.
And you know what? It was the best decision I could have made.
They not only did an amazing job finishing up the leftover updates, but they also improved some of the less-than-stellar projects I handled on my own – like that DIY cabinet pull-out.
I was so determined to save money that I didn’t want to listen to anyone’s advice, thinking I could do it all better and cheaper on my own.
But as it turns out, DIY’ing your kitchen remodel is not only more expensive in the long run, but it’s also more stressful. At least in my experience.
I learned my lesson and I’m never going to try and take on a project like this again without professional help.
Now, if only I could find a way to get my money back from that particleboard…
My Final Thoughts
Don’t get me wrong, if you have the patience and are capable of completing your own DIY then more power to you! But I learned that it’s just not for me. I was so stressed and agitated near the end of it, that I was starting to dread going into my own kitchen.
The whole experience just wasn’t worth it for me, especially when I could have saved myself a lot of time, money, and headaches by just hiring someone from the start.
So if you’re considering taking on your own kitchen remodel, think about all that goes into it first. It’s ok if the project is just too big for a weekend adventure because lets be honest, it’s never just a weekend and you don’t have to do it all yourself.
Give Dan a call. His experience alone is worth the time to consider the outcome of your kitchen remodel.