Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Step 9 - Know Your Limitations

"Man's got to know his limitations."  Clint Eastwood muttered this advice in various ways several times during the film Magnum Force.  I'm a licensed general contractor and have an engineering degree, but you don't need to be a GC or an engineer to renovate an extremely run-down property and I've never been one to make home renovating seem more complicated or difficult than it actually is.  Still, with that said...men and women, you need to come to terms with your own level of expertise before you move on to Step 10 - Demolition.  Or as Dirty Harry put it, you've got to know your own limitations.   

As I've shared before, I've made plenty of mistakes as a home renovator.  (see Vinny Had the Right Attitude)  I've accidentally ripped loose plumbing that caused water to flood my project and I have been jolted to attention when I touched electrical wires that weren't supposed to be live.  I've fallen from more than a few ladders, been stitched up in the emergency room, and have had to spend time and money fixing things that were a result of my own over exuberance during the demolition phase.  So, if you consider those things, I may be the last person you should take this advice from, but I'll say it again in a different way: be mindful of what you can do and get help or advice if you need it.

Neither home renovating nor demolition are mindbogglingly complicated, but since the wiring, plumbing, and gas lines run through the walls, you have to give some thought to these partially hidden elements of the house before you start knocking into the wall with a sledge hammer.  In addition, you want to consider the load bearing walls that support the roof and floors above.  Don't be surprised when you have to do some additional research to get smarter on these topics and forget about being embarrassed to ask someone how to deal with these things if that's necessary.  I have my license, that associate's degree, and over a decade of experience working on condemned or abandoned homes.  I have taken on some really jacked-up properties and seen them through to completion.  However, I still don't have all the answers and need to get direction from time to time.  That's part of the adventure of renovating (see It's An Adventure.)  

So, know your limitations and get help if and when you need it.  You can hire contractors, tradesmen, engineers, and architects, but hold off on doing that until you've given yourself (or yourselves if you're working as a couple or team) an honest evaluation.  When that's done, grab that sledge, a crowbar, and some work gloves and get ready for Step 10 - The Demolition Phase (Serious Fun)

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