It's common for buyers to think that they can easily make changes to homes, and do the work themselves to make the home "their own". While showing homes in Bend I often hear, "oh that's not a big deal, I can change that" from buyers. This includes remodeling bathrooms, adding on to homes, changing surfaces and/or finishes, etc. While much of the time these changes can be made easily and for fairly cheap, sometimes home buyer's don't think about the hidden costs involved and/or potential problems of doing the work themselves.
If you don't know all of the steps involved in completing a project, it's hard to accurately estimate the costs. In the remodeling I've done on my own home, I've learned this the hard way. I find my self going back to Home Depot way more than I should. I've learned to look into the step by step process of the work and all of the required materials and tools. Items such as specialty screws, tape, and permit fees are often not thought of when remodeling.
Do Your Research To Complete The Full Job
So you want to install granite tile counter tops yourself over the ugly sky blue laminate counter tops currently in the home? Don't just go price granite tiles and think you know how much it's going to cost! Do your research on what is required to install granite tile countertops. Many buyers have the skills to tackle a project like this themselves, but don't know about the costs. You need more than just granite tiles... While I'm not a tile expert, I have done a lot of it and worked as a kid installing tile for a while. A list below is what the average counter top will take for conversion to granite tile counter tops.
Concrete Backer Board (placed on the counter as a surface for tile to bond to)
Backer Board screws
Backer Board Tape
Thinset (mortar for the tiles to stick to the backer board)
Mastic (mortar for backsplash to stick to drywall)
Grout and/or Tile Sealant
Bullnose Tile For Edges (This can cost upwards of $10 a tile for granite to be rounded)
So now that the materials are covered, lets look at the tools required. While many tools, like screw guns and tape measures, are already owned by most people, some jobs require special tools. For installing granite tile, the following would be required (and maybe more).
Many times it will be more cost effective to have a professional come and do the work, than to buy the tools for using them just once or twice. And unless you've done the work before, usually the results are better if left to the professional that does it day in and day out. Also, most contractors get materials at discounted rates because of their accounts. While not all contractors pass this on to the home owners, some do.
I've seen some horrendous tile and other finish work jobs done by home owners. I'm all for home owners doing the work themselves if they do the research, take their time, and feel like it's cost effective. But if you're buying a home and NEED some remodeling or additions to make it livable for you, make sure you take the proper steps to make sure you can afford the work, and that the work can be completed legally and safely. It's not fun spending $200,000 on a home to then find out you can't do what you were wanting to do to upgrade the home (whether it be because of the costs involved, or the safety or legality of the work).
Investigate Potential Problems
If your'e wanting to take out walls, add on, move plumbing, or anything else major, do your research and properly investigate the possibilities. If your'e wanting to take out a wall separating the kitchen and living room, have a contractor come and investigate if its a load bearing wall. If it is, you can't simply take out the wall. If you're planning on adding on, make sure you know where gas, power, water, and sewer lines are. It's also important to talk to the governing body (in Bend it would be Deschutes county or city of Bend) about setbacks, permit fees, and potential problems with your plans.
Suggestion to Keep Costs Down
One thing I suggest to home buyers that are wanting have work done to their new home by a contractor, is to ask contractors what you can do to keep the costs down. A lot of the time the prep work can easily be done by the home owner. Most contractors charge an hourly wage. You can cut some of their hours out by doing some or all of the following yourselves; removing old fixtures, moving and covering furniture to protect it from debris, demolition of old material, doing clean up and taking trash to the dump, masking off areas of the home near the construction, etc.