5 Big DIY Projects to Tackle

a large open white kitchen with island and stools
  • 50-500 hours
  • Advanced
  • 2,000-30,000

Every homeowner has an extensive to-do list. From regular maintenance to unexpected repairs, the projects never end. So it’s often difficult to find the time, money, and motivation for major projects. Instead of putting it off any longer, create a plan and let 2021 be the year to make it happen.

1. Kitchen Remodel

Whether you’ve bought a new home or have tolerated a dated kitchen in your existing house, a kitchen remodel is highly touted as the best project to tackle for resale value. Plus, there’s the added bonus of enjoying a room where you spend so much time.

Phase one is creating a plan. Consider appliances, cabinets, flooring, and countertops. Also decide on light fixtures, sink and faucet, and any extras you want to incorporate. A kitchen remodel can easily take a full year, so a schedule is crucial for launching the remodel while keeping the space usable as much as possible.

Take your kitchen remodel in phases. The first step is demolition and removal of items you won’t be reusing. During this phase, leave the plumbing attached to the sink and the stove plugged into the wall, even if you remove everything around them.

Then rebuild the footprint of the room with wiring, plumbing, and reframing of walls. Next, add the cabinets, including countertops, and flooring before reinstalling the appliances. You can paint and add backsplash and light fixtures before or after installing appliances, depending on your timeline and need to have your kitchen functional.

2. Add a Room

a new room in construction phase with exposed wooden walls

If you plan to add additional space to your home, adding a room is a comprehensive project. As always, begin with a thorough plan. Get permits, which can often take several weeks. Create a foundation with concrete or other materials. Frame in the walls, planning for windows and doors. Remove the exterior siding from the existing wall if needed since your new room will now be the outside of the house.

The next phase involves adding exterior siding and running the electrical through the walls. Once your roof and windows are added you can remove the existing wall between rooms or add a doorway to join the spaces.

Interior work will include sheetrock, lights and ceiling fans, texture, paint, and flooring.

3. Renovate the Garage

two people fixing a garage door track

With the continued shift towards home offices and gyms, the garage may be on the list for a renovation. If so, begin with your permits. Install heaters or connect to the central heating of the home. You may also need to expand the electrical wiring to all areas of the garage. Add insulation throughout and finish the walls with sheetrock, texture, and paint. Finally, finish the space with your choice of flooring, remembering to use an option recommended for use over concrete.

4. Tackle the Basement

basement undergoing renovation

Another source of usable space often not being used to its potential is the basement. The steps to converting a basement into a den, family room, or weight room are similar to other parts of the house. The largest difference is dealing with water so begin outside by making sure water is all diverted away from the house and ensure effective drainage.

Inside, waterproof the basement walls and existing or new concrete floor. Check fire regulations in your area, which often require an egress. You may have to add wiring and run heating to the space, depending on how much was done during the build. If you plan to have a kitchen, kitchenette, or bathroom, you’ll need to add plumbing too. This is a significant undertaking and will require permits so expect those major additions to take a few months.

With the major infrastructure done, you can add carpet, tile, or luxury vinyl, cover or paint the walls, update lighting, and bring in the furnishings.

5. Exterior Power Punch

Giving the exterior of your house a curb appeal boost can be broken down into several different projects. During the warmer months, prep and paint the house, remembering to replace worn boards as needed. Alternatively, residing the home may be necessary. For an added visual appeal and function, add shutters and window boxes, which you can build during the winter. The entryway is the focal point of the home, so replace or repaint the front door, and paint, stain, or treat your front concrete walkway or wood deck.

Most of the landscaping will take place during the spring to fall, depending on where you live, so you’ll need to have a plan in place. Regardless of how extensive your landscaping needs are, start with an underground sprinkler system. Then roll out sod or plant grass seed. Build raised beds as needed or add a mowing strip between the lawn and flower beds. Carefully plan plantings of trees, shrubs, flowers, and bulbs to create a colorful display throughout the seasons. For a professional eye, many nurseries will provide a free consultation to help you create a plan.