Some Factors to Consider when Thinking about Doing a Residential Concrete Project Yourself
Hey, we get it. Residential Concrete projects can be fun! We’ve got homes too and we know the satisfaction of a job well done, especially one you did yourself. But concrete work is no picnic. There’s a reason it’s a skilled trade. So you need to ask yourself some honest questions before you get started on any project where this level of home repair or remodeling is involved.
Before we get too deep into it: the best home improvement projects are small in scope, low and predictable in cost and have a generous time table.
With that, let’s dive into some basic aspects of Project Management.
Assess Your Scope
First, honestly assess the scope of the residential concrete project.
This is one of the fundamental elements of project management, and probably the most important.
Let’s get a pencil and paper out to get started on this because this list is going to get a lot bigger really quickly.
What needs to get done?
Furthermore, what needs to get done in order for other stuff to get done?
For example, you could say that “I need a level basement slab by October 1st, 2019.” OK, that’s the goal. So let’s think about what we need to do to finish that.
If you have carpet in the basement, you need to start with removing and disposing of that carpet. That’s thing one. You’ll also need to assess the state of the basement floor underneath the carpet. That’s thing two…
‘That’s because either the project is too big or because you’re just not sure of what needs to get done. That’s OK! This is a skilled trade that takes years to master. And if you’re not a trained project manager, you might find your project flying away from you!
But if you can assess the scope and it seems reasonable, it’s time to move to the next step.
Assess Your Costs
Before looking at what kind of tools you have, think about the most important part of the work: who is going to do it.
That’s you and anyone who will help you. This is where honesty is going to play a big role. Do you yourself have the skills necessary to finish what you start? Have you ever worked with concrete before? Are you working with a friend or family member who has experience working with concrete?
Consider all the materials you’ll use. Tools to mix and spread the concrete. Tools to smooth the concrete. Wood to create a frame for the concrete. A leveler. A good hammer. Yeesh. That’s a lot of stuff! How about a pair of good solid rubber boots that you’re going to end up putting in the garage for a few years? Costs can add up quickly.
Do you understand the materials you’ll use? What kind of cement mixture are you using? Do you know what each mixture does and does it meet your specific needs? If not, you could end up using a product and end up with unpredictable results.
You can watch YouTube videos all day and put on This Old House (great resources for the DIY’er) but if you don’t have any experience and no one there to guide you along and lend a hand, you should probably call a contractor.
Assess Your Timetable
Time is another factor. If it’s an open-ended commitment with a limitless amount of patience, then you’ve got a lot of flexibility. But if it’s something with a hard-and-fast deadline, you might want to consider calling a professional.
You’ve made the appointment with a flooring contractor set up for a month from now. So that concrete slab you had in mind has got to be done, and done right, by that time. You’d think that would be enough time, but factor in the fact you’ve probably got work 40 hours plus during the week. Maybe you’ve also got family things to do (spouses get awful lonesome when you spend all your time on a project in the basement and kids aren’t forgiving when it comes to your lack of attention).
And what about your help? Do you have friends that can help you out? What are their schedules like? When you really think about it, your “month from now” isn’t really a month anymore. The time you can actually spend on the work itself is limited to only a few hours!
So consider that. DIY is best when the scope is small, the expenses low and predictable, the help plentiful and time unlimited.
Can You Build Safely and up to Code?
It’s not easy to keep all the codes straight. There are codes for basements, entry steps, sidewalks, driveways… everything under the sun. Do you know all of them well enough to build something that’s up to code? Did you just look up those codes last night? Did you check to see what permits you need for residential concrete work?
This is tough, detail oriented research and thus some DIY projects aren’t built up to code. While that might be fine from a functional standpoint, when it comes time to sell your property you can bet that a wily home inspector worth her salt is going to point out any mistakes you didn’t even know you made. You may end up paying for your project all over again!
Goodmanson Construction builds up to code, guaranteed. We’ve done this for years, and know the codes back and front. We do the research and the get required permits before we break ground.
Hey, We Don’t Want to be a Debbie Downer
But there’s a lot to consider before starting a residential concrete project. An ideal do-it-yourself home improvement project is one where you’ve got a small scope, low and predictable costs and plenty of time.
But if you hesitate, or your spouse asks you over and over again if this is really what you want to do…
It’s better to call us for your residential concrete work before you get started than to call us after something goes wrong. Not that we won’t come out, but if any contractor has to spend time fixing a mistake before getting to work, that adds to your costs.