Tips: How to avoid rookie mistakes

February 18, 2011|By Donna M. Owens, Special to The Baltimore Sun | Baltimore Sun reporter

Here are five home renovation tips from the now-experienced renovators Megan and Jacob Rubinstein:

Don't just have an idea, have a plan Do a thorough cost estimate and research what you want to do. "Punch a couple little holes in the wall to see what's there, take lots of measurements, make some sketches and call on the advice of people that have done it before," Jacob Rubinstein advises. "Don't just come up with a big idea and go tear down a wall. You'll be in for a world of expensive surprises that way."

Safety is key Wear your goggles and gloves. Get some good work boots and ear plugs. Don't overwork your body, and never work alone, especially if you're on a ladder. That one time you overlook safety just to get something done quickly is when you might get hurt.

Practice good organization Have a dedicated work space. Otherwise, tools and materials end up everywhere, and you spend as much time looking for the right tools as you do working on the project.

Make the time Understand that home renovation requires a commitment. It takes a huge amount of time, effort and money, and takes you away from everything else you thought you would be doing — work, family time, and leisure activities. Adds Jacob Rubinstein: "Don't sign up for a [reality] show unless you really want to disrupt virtually every aspect of your life for a while."

Get support from friends and family Especially if you have children. Extra muscle always helps (and extra brains, too), and the kids need somewhere to go when conditions around the house are not safe. "We absolutely couldn't have done it without all the great help from our family and friends," says Megan Rubinstein.

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