Many home improvement stories have graced the pages of this magazine over the years; a lot of them dealing with finding the right contractors for the job and working with them to achieve optimal results.
There are times, however, when homeowners feel they have the tools and wherewithal to tackle a project by themselves. With proper planning and the right advice, the results are usually quite positive.
To begin with, each project entails a trip to a building supplier. Reputable suppliers will not only provide the right materials, they can also be a source of valuable information.
“We try and help everyone and give them our honest advice,” says Chris Niezen of Guelph Building Supply. “We talk ourselves out of many add-ons or upsells, because they either aren’t necessary or because they can cause the customer more trouble down the road.”
There are several reasons why a building supplier has a stake in the success of a home project; particularly an outdoor one like a fence or deck.
Both will be on display for years to come, as will the quality and durability of their material content. This is a reflection of the supplier. In addition, word-of-mouth is still very relevant in this business. A satisfied customer passing on happy stories of his/her experience is invaluable to a building supplier.
Finally, of course, there are the factors of professional integrity and commitment to customer service.
Chris recalls a conversation with a woman who wanted to build a fence and was looking for a proper way to secure the posts. She appeared to be making the reasonable assumption that one cannot over secure a post and was prepared to insert concrete-filled sono tubes into the four-foot post holes that would reach to the surface.
“All you need is a little concrete, approximately nine- and-a-half inches, at the bottom of the hole around the post,” Chris advised her. “This gives the post a good foot print/foundation to support it against wind load and frost heave.” He could have gone with her original plan and, subsequently, made more money on the sale. By offering a less expensive option, however, the loss of short-term revenue was compensated by long-term good will from a grateful customer.
It goes without saying that money factors into almost everything people do. Homeowners inevitably save money by foregoing a contractor and doing the job themselves.
When budgeting for a project, the homeowner needs to factor in the time he/she can realistically put into it, as well as the financial costs. In addition, he/she needs to make sure that what appears to be a cost-saving measure will not do more damage than good.
“A common error,” Chris says “is that people may not use the proper supplies required and use what they assume will be suitable, only because it is cheaper or easier.” Essentially, it boils down to the old axiom that a job worth doing is a job worth doing right. Time and effort put into a project are every bit as important as the money that goes into it.
Returning to the story of the woman and her fence posts, Chris was able to save her time, as well as money. If she had gone with the original sono tube plan, she would be faced with getting rid of the excess dirt.
Do-it-yourselfers must also be fully aware of their skill limitations.
For example, a man wants to build a work shed or a garage on his property. He might be adept at performing the framing and carpentry requirements. Yet, the outbuilding is going to require a perfectly measured and level concrete pad. He has to sincerely ask himself if he has the ability to do that. Sometimes, it is much wiser to forego certain aspects of a job and bring in a professional to do it.
Saving money should also not be so paramount to homeowners that they sacrifice what they truly want in order to get the job done at a price they can afford. “Budget is always a weighted question, but it can be very helpful if used correctly,” figures Chris. “Sometimes, if your budget doesn’t allow for your plan, it may be best to hold off on the project until it does.
“It is always a shame when someone spends a lot of money and is not happy with the end results. It is better to wait and be happy, rather than be disappointed for a long time before finally changing to what they originally wanted and, incidentally, spending more money than they ever needed to.
“Patience certainly pays off.”
Written By: Dan Pelton | Resources: Guelph Building Supply