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Managing Time During A Home Improvement Project

Sprouting flowers.  Budding trees.  Honey-do list. The rites of spring.  Many friends and family say a home improvement project is not complete without several trips to the store.  First piece is wrong, second breaks and third is forced in.  A simple one-hour project takes days, weeks or so long it creates friction.  Things always take longer at home no matter who you are.  If I charged for my time at home, I would be broke.  Well, here is how to reduce the trips, save money and make the best of your time.

 

Plan

I have said it over and over, plan, plan, plan.  Take pictures, research parts and options, talk to professionals….all before you start.

  • Describe the project, create a summary of what you want to do.
  • Photograph the parts, close and far.  Print them out or put them on you smart phone.  Show them to the vendor, professional or other confidant.
  • Make a list of parts.  If you need a new toilet flapper, write down the name brand, style, age, etc.  Maybe even remove it before you get the replacement.
  • Think about the time it will take.  If it goes wrong, does the project/part need to function?  When does the supply store close?
  • Talk to a professional, not just a sales clerk.  You can hire a professional for advice, or go to a specialty store first.

 

Expertise

Home centers staff help you find the right isle, most of the time, rather than having the skills or experience to find the right part.  Specialty stores have skilled, trained staff, as well as the resources to fix the problem.  They also know qualified professionals.  The allow returns too.  The challenge is balancing convenience and cost vs. quality and service.

 

Convenience

Most home improvement projects are done on weekends.  Specialty stores, like plumbing or electrical supplies, and lumberyards are open 6 days week, usually closed on Sundays.  Home centers and local hardware stores are open 7 days a week.

 

Yet convenience can come at a cost.  The part you seek may not be an exact match, so it takes someone with experience to know if the replacement part will work.  And many home centers do not stocking the highest quality, since they are advertising lowest cost.  Home centers are cheaper for two reasons: volume and quality.

 

Cost and Value

Cost and value are the biggest obstacles to completing good work that lasts as long as it should.  Let the buyer beware, home center products are not the same as specialty stores, lumberyards and hardware stores, even though they look the same.  Faucets may look the same outside, but the insides are not.  Cheaper models have plastic inside instead of brass.  That is the difference between 5 and 20 years.

 

Selection

Do it yourselfers love home centers.  The wide range of products, lots of colorful promotional banners, and helpful staff lead people to believe they have all the knowledge and products you need.  I personally do not get the warm and fuzzies.  It is overwhelming, confusing and the stuff with the biggest profit is front and center.  Sort of like the candy next to the register.  You don’t need it, but you can’t help but want it.

 

While the perception is home centers have everything, specialty stores have way more.  When you have something unique or just can’t jam in the home center purchase, go to the specialty store.  You can wait the two days.

 

Shop Local

Local can be national, regional, statewide or your town.  Many American manufactured parts complete by quality, not by price.  Things like fasteners are not all the same.  I have seen Chinese galvanized nails shed their protective zinc when hit by a hammer.  Or aluminum gutter parts that are thinner sheet metal than “industry standard”.  So point of manufacturing is important towards quality, as much as the product itself.

 

Money spent in locally owned stores keeps most, if not all, local.  They use local banks, local suppliers, or spend most of the money that goes through their business locally.  Money spent at a home center keeps far less local.

 

So know what you have, ask for what you need and buy what you expect.  Without that, the fifth trip to the store for the third part is no longer so convenient or so cheap.

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