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  • Amy Pagano

The Approach: To DIY or not to DIY

Updated: Aug 23, 2020

I love a good DIY but I know nothing about construction. Brenton works as a Project Manager in construction but he doesn't love DIY. What to do, what to do...


Getting Started


Closing on the condo was a hot mess. Our realtor's office said it was the worst they've ever dealt with in terms of communication. So after several weeks of closing and over a week with no keys to our new condo we got in and were ready to start the process. As much as I tried to get quotes in advance, people need to see the unit to give accurate estimates so as soon as we had the keys we hit the ground running with appointments.


We had a lot of discussions about how to handle this. Brenton manages construction projects for a living so he could definitely manage this project. However, that would mean nearly zero personal time and if you know Brenton, you know he NEEDS time for activities (little did we know the Rona aka Coronavirus would soon free up our social calendar.) Even then, it was a lot of coordinating that would have to be done after normal work hours and we saw that slowing down the process a lot. The goal was to get this going and get in because we did not want to be paying for a storage unit + a mortgage + rent + two utility bills. Here were our options.


1. Total DIY - Brenton does it all, I try to assist. We fight like crazy and probably end up breaking up (KIDDING...maybe). We move in two years later because this would take forever.


2. Half DIY - Brenton manage the subcontractors from top to bottom trying to navigate around our day jobs. We move in a year later...because this would take forever


3. Hire a contractor -

a. Hire a handy man type of guy or gal. Maybe not licensed but comes recommended and hopefully knows what they're doing. Likely doesn't come with any workmanship warranties.

b. Hire a licensed contractor who will let us be involved as much as we want to be and backs their work

c. Hire a licensed contractor who does it all and you just fund the project, sounds awesome.


In Conclusion


Plan 3c was funny. We met with a contractor who literally doesn't let you lift a finger. I couldn't even buy my own faucet. They laughed when we told them our budget. We laughed too. We mutually parted ways. When I'm rich in 20 years I'd love to hire them, they do beautiful work!


Brenton wanted to do the demo ourselves. This was another one of those good ideas in theory. I think if we lived in a house it would be easier but in a condo you have neighbors and shared spaces to consider. I could see it now...I take a sledge hammer to a wall unleashing my inner beast and next thing you know I am standing in my neighbors living room apologizing for busting through her wall like the Kool-Aid man...oh YEAH...oh NO. While this would have saved us quite a bit of money the time issue was still a concern because it would have taken us a few weekends where contractors could knock it out in a day.


Ultimately, after meeting a lot of people and getting a lot of quotes we went with plan 3b and found a kick-ass contractor who knows his stuff but allowed us to be involved. We are essentially purchasing all the things: vanities, lights, tile, shower accessories, etc. and he's installing and planning out the renovations with all of his subcontractors. Turns out our HOA requires licensed contractors so now we are following the rules. Always a plus! More on HOA's later...


While I know Brenton wanted to do more himself, we also had to consider our timeline and our sanity. Not to mention the value of having a renovation done by the same company/person because they own the project so there is no blame game plus it's way more efficient. Initially I thought I would do the paining myself but that would mean that I'd need to paint the whole unit myself in one day and try to squeeze it in around their schedule because paint goes in after drywall and popcorn ceiling removal but before cabinet and tile install. I decided to leave it to the pro's this time and once I get in, if I want an accent wall I can do that myself. And, if I'm being totally honest I hate painting walls. To all you painters out there #youtherealMVP.



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