Your business is up and running. You’re a couple years into operation and you finally have the cash flow to expand- or at least invest in much needed improvements.
You’re ready to install some new equipment, add a second restroom, get more floor space…
So you start to weigh the options. On the one hand: Your business keeps you busy, so you don’t have a lot of spare time. But saving some money DIYing your project? It’s hard for a savvy entrepreneur to say ‘no’ to that.
So…do you find a contractor?
….Do you call up your handyman and hope he can frame in your new expansion well-enough to pass inspection?
….Do you roll up your own sleeves and dive in on your own time?
Let’s face it- for most business owners DIY is a fact of life. We’ve all spent late nights hanging shelving, watching Youtube tutorials on how to install a toilet, or dabbled in DIYing other areas of our business until we could justify a pro.
Sometimes it works. And sometimes? It ends up costing you a lot of extra time, money, and frustration. Especially when it comes to construction.
That’s why I wasn’t surprised to hear this story from our friends in St. Louis. Now, they’ve figured out a lot since opening their business in 2014. But even the best of us can get in over our heads.
Here’s what happened.
A Case of DIY Construction Disaster
My friends built their coffee shop from the ground up. So when they finally had the chance to improve their business’ space? They didn’t think twice about doing it themselves.
They bought the materials, rolled up their sleeves, and shut down their business for a week while they turned their hodge-podge kitchen space into a real commercial-grade operation.
Here’s the problem…Like most entrepreneurs, they had the persistence to figure out the basics.
But then they found themselves trying to install FRP on their commercial kitchen’s ceiling and, well, they were literally in over their heads!
The project ended up costing
- four extra days of operating revenue- including a high-dollar holiday weekend!- all while anxious customers kept calling to see if they were open yet. My friends completely underestimated how much time it would take for them to install FRP.
- 30% more in material from the ‘trial and error’ of DIY installation
- And, in the end, the services of a professional contractor they called in to get it finished!
The truth is this:
They aren’t alone. Maybe you’ve been there yourself.
Business owners get into this predicament all of the time. Even if you have full-time maintenance personnel, or a trusted handyman on call, there are just times when you should call a pro.
Are you weighing the pros and cons of DIY for your next project? Here’s our take- 5x you can DIY your business upgrade to save some cash…and 5x it isn’t worth the risk.
5 DIY ‘Greenlights’ for Your Next Business Remodel- and 5 Times to Call Your Contractor
There’s nothing wrong with DIY. At Martin- we’re a family business, too! There have been plenty of times we’ve had to work within a budget as we’ve grown.
But when it comes to investing in the physical infrastructure of your commercial operation, there are projects where it’s best to find a trusted contractor from the start.
Plumbing Do: Updating Your Fixtures
Installing new fixtures- either for updated style or greater utility- is usually a straight-forward fix.
And updating these is a great idea, especially if it’s been a while.
Old fixtures can look dirty even when they’ve been cleaned. The wear and tear of heavy use, hard water, and general age takes its toll- especially on your sink faucets.
Clean, modern fixtures in your public restrooms show customers you care about details. If you run a business where cleanliness is a key component to customer satisfaction, like food service or hospitality, replacing fixtures every few years is a must.
Plus, as long as your new faucets, toilet handles, etc are compatible with your existing fixtures, you or your maintenance team will be able to exchange them in less than an hour. It’s a great DIY way to spruce up your business.
Plumbing Don’t: Reconfiguring Your Layout
Thinking of adding an extra bathroom to your business? Rearranging plumbing for new equipment?
Making the most of your commercial space is a must for growing businesses. But doing it yourself is a risky move- especially if it involves water.
Let’s face it: water damage and business just don’t mix.
If your DIY project leads to in-wall leaks, mold, or flooding, your insurance won’t pay out. You’ll be responsible for not only the project, but the “fixing” you have to do to make it right.
There’s a good reason most cities won’t permit DIY plumbing and require a licensed contractor. Licensed plumbers are not only insured, but they’re trained to run lines and install equipment the right way….the first time. Leave reconfiguration to the experts- it’s not worth the risk!
Cosmetic Do: Painting
If you have the time, painting is a great DIY DO. It’s one of the best ways to make a big impact on your commercial space- and also one of the easiest to do on your own.
Did you know most paint begins to fade after three years? This is especially true for walls in rooms exposed to direct sunlight.
Want to DIY a new coat of paint? Here are some tips on making it look pro:
- Prep Like a Pro: Preparation is key to even, well-done work. Plan ahead by stocking up on painter’s tape for protecting your trim and, more importantly- take your time taping!
- Never Skip The Primer: When painting, primer is your best friend! Priming first will smooth your application and save you money on extra coats of paint .
- Choose a Color That Lasts: When choosing the paint color, choose a light or bright color. Lighter paint will stay fresh longer and is the easiest way to open up a dim space.
- Gloss vs. Matte: When choosing a finish, pick a sheen based on durability. Gloss is the easiest to clean and is great for bathrooms, breakrooms, and kitchens. We recommend using semi-gloss or eggshell in office applications.
Cosmetic Don’t: Trim
You’ve expanded your business. You’ve had the pros do the heavy lifting- but you just DIYed your paint. Looking around, you see the trim and think “Hey, putting this on doesn’t look so hard…”
Stop. Time to call your contractor.
Installing trim is no easy task. Most people don’t realize proper trim installation requires an almost artistic touch. Complicated angles require special tools and time to wrap your head around.
Even if your trim is already installed, you might consider calling in a pro to do the repainting or restaining if you’ve DIYed your walls. Sharp lines and smooth applications can be tough- especially with trim that has been DIYed poorly before. Save yourself the frustration and let us lend a hand.
Electric Do: Upgrading to USB Outlets
Are you always unplugging something to charge your tablet? Is your staff fighting over outlets?
Instead of power strips, upgrade to USB outlets. This safer, modern alternative is great for offices, waiting rooms, and other spaces where people want to plug in. Worried about getting shocked during install? Make sure your outlet is really off before diving into this project. Pick up an outlet voltage tester before you dive into this DIY.
Another tip? Take a photo of your outlet after the cover has been removed, but before you disassemble the current configuration. You might want a reference installing your new USB outlet.
From here, the rest of the process is simple. Reconnect the wires to the new outlet and secure the screws. That’s it!
Electric Don’t: Adding New Outlets or Lighting Fixtures
Adding new outlets or lighting fixtures may seem easy, but – just like plumbing- it’s best to leave it to a licensed professional. There is just too much that can go wrong.
- A breaker that can support the extra load…
- Installing the wrong type of can light for your insulation- and starting a fire…
- Having a retrofitted hanging light fall because your ceiling doesn’t have the support…
If you’re adding new outlets, changing out lighting fixtures, or running electric to a new area of your business to install new equipment, it’s not worth the risk. Hiring a licensed and insured contractor is a must.
Flooring Do: Painting Concrete
Does your business have a concrete basement or backroom you’d like to use for storage? Could your storefront’s facade use a little facelift?
Painting your concrete with a garage-quality epoxy paint kit or an outdoor concrete paint is a great way to brighten an area, cover wear, and keep it clean.
Here’s where most people go wrong: Trying to rush. Whatever product you chose to use, don’t skip the prep work and always follow the directions.
This means making sure your concrete is cleaned of all grease and debris (and completely dry!) before you start. And, just like your walls, you may need to prime your concrete before getting started.
Flooring Don’t: Refinishing Hardwood, Installing Tile, or Updating Carpet
When it comes to flooring, you don’t want to get it right on the second try. You need a one-time installation by experts.
First, the cost of materials. Using quality materials costs money. Both hardwood flooring and tile cost between $3-6 per sq ft, plus renting- or purchasing- tools to install.
Second, mistakes cost both money- and time. With tile, mistakes are especially difficult to fix and can require a total demolition/reinstall to correct.
If you’re looking for the best and the most cost effective approach to installing new flooring in your business? Don’t DIY it. Call a pro.
Exterior Do: Upgrade Your Landscaping
Looking to increase traffic to your business? Increasing your curb appeal is a simple way to attract new customers. And bonus- there are plenty of projects you can do on your own to give your business a lift.
Here three great DIY projects to boost your business’s curb appeal:
- Add Planter Boxes and Potted Plants- Especially on sidewalks or near your entrance. When choosing plants, keep in mind how much care they’ll need to look fresh year round. Choosing the right plants can make maintenance easy, as well as having easy access to water. Not thrilled about hauling buckets of water to keep your flowers fresh during hot summer days? Talk to us about installing an outdoor spigot from your building near your landscaping to make care simple.
- Make It Bright- By adding accent lighting around the public areas of your business. Hanging patio lights, adding in walkway lights, and upgrading signage lighting is an investment that boosts traffic year round. On summer nights, it encourages customers to enjoy your patio late into the evening. And during the winter? Outdoor lighting can add a warm, welcoming appeal to shortened days.
- Ditch the Grass- Is your parking lot surrounded by grass? Are you tired of it costing thousands of dollars every year to maintain a lush lawn? Consider ditching the grass for something more eye-catching. If you don’t have the time to keep up with professionally planned landscaping, consider using native plants and flowers for big, bright coverage with hands-off maintenance. Another financial bonus? Your project might also be eligible for local or state grant funds to help you cover the cost.
These little finishing touches to the landscaping on your business’s property are great DIY projects. Do you have your sights set on something a little bigger? Like setting trellis posts or pouring a concrete pad?
Exterior Don’t: Pouring Concrete
Unlevel slabs. Busted forms. Posts set at the wrong angle.
There are dozens of reasons why you should call a contractor if your exterior upgrades go beyond adding a planter box- and include pouring concrete.
Concrete is a fickle material. Having the right substrate, making sure your forms can withstand the weight, getting the right mix, tamping, finishing…with so many steps involved, and so many specialized tools, you don’t want to make a mistake.
Let’s face it: your exterior has a big effect on your business. If you’ve decided it’s time for concrete, it’s time to call the pros.
Ready to Invest in Your Business? Is it Time to Expand?
Congrats! Whether you’re expanding or updating, changing the way your business looks or operates is exciting.
We’d love to help!
As a family-run business, we understand that your business is more than an operation- it’s an extension of you. We can help you create a space that operates efficiently, is easy to maintain, and- most importantly- represents your level of quality and brand image.
So when it’s time to add more restrooms, build out your dream patio, or create a welcoming space for clients? Talk to our team. Click here to book a free project call to get started today.