What's the biggest home improvement job you've done?

My husband and I are do-it-yourselfers. I’ve painted or wallpapered the entire inside of our house. My husband (with my dad’s help) installed the ceiling to floor built-in bookshelves in my library. My husband and I have tiled the laundry room floor, and tiled the kitchen floors and countertops. We also did a major overhaul of our downstairs bathroom – stripped the old wallpaper & repainted; tiled the floor and halfway up the walls (with beautiful italian tile we bought in Sicily 20 years ago and have been carting around ever since); put in a new vanity with a granite top; plus new faucets, lighting fixtures and towel racks.

But we just completed our biggest do-it-yourself job. We repainted the outside of the house. It’s a largish (3000 sq. ft.), 2 story with aluminum siding. We got quotes from local painters to do the job for between $7200 and $10,500. That’s just the siding, not the shutters, doors or trim.

Big job. It took us a little over a month to finish it. We had to rent a man-lift to do the second story. Kevin also used the man lift to cut down some tall tree limbs he’s been wanting to get to, and to clean the roof. So we ended up renting it 3 days. Kevin travels for business, so he was only here to work on the weekends (usually 3 day weekends, as he usually gets home on Thursday). I was apinting solo the rest of the time – except for 3 days when my mom came and helped. And we had to take one weekend off so we could take our daughter to visit her college. But other than that we’ve been eating, drinking and dreaming paint for 4 1/2 weeks.

We didn’t do any of the trim (Kevin had repaired and repainted all that last year). The doors were all painted last year too, so we hadn’t planned to paint them, either. We were going to rent a sprayer and spray paint the shutters to match the doors, but once we took them down it was clear they all needed to be replaced. And, of course, we couldn’t find an on-the-shelf match to the paint on our doors. Special order shutters would have taken 6 weeks to come in, so we chose a color we liked from Home Depot and repainted all the doors to match them. And when we took the front door down to paint it, we found a bit of rot on the pilasters around the door, so Kevin had to spend a day tearing that all apart and rebuilding it. Then that all looked so nice that the entry handles looked shoddy, so we replaced those too and put up a brass kickplate and a doorknocker to spruce it up.

Again, big job – probably the biggest I’d ever want to do. But it looks beautiful and only cost us around $2000 counting everything (paint and supplies, new shutters, and hardware, renting the man lift).

So what’s the biggest job you’ve done?

We are getting ready to undertake a kitchen remodel, new lighting, cabinets, counters and the other kitchen tidbits as well as the flooring. But with the flooring, we are also going to do the dining room, living room and hallways… yikes. When we start my house is going to look like a tornado hit it.

Before the kitchen/flooring project, the biggest home improvement was a partial remodel of a 5x8 guest bathroom (ripped everything out but the bathtub and tile surround)

Sort of gets in your blood, doesn’t it. If you’re going to do it yourself, buy the tools and learn how to do it, you end up doing it again.

Some of my bigger projects….

Completely redo/realign the driveway on our steep, wet, lot. That involved renting a CAT D-4H dozer. And a CASE 680 backhoe. My brother ended up getting the dozer stuck. 20,000 lbs of stuck bulldozer is not a fun thing. The 680 was a toy compared to it. Took us 8 very frantic hours to get it unstuck. Nearly to the point of having to try to find another dozer to rent to pull it out. Bulldozers are not that easy to line up for private rental.

I had about a cord of wood logged out sitting close to the dozer. We could push down the blade, hand dig and get a couple of logs under the treads. Then push down the ripper and do the same. The wood just kept sinking into the very soft ground, ended up using all of the wood.

Longest, coldest, muddiest day of my life.

The job turned out very good. We have room to park a number of cars, and about 30 less steps up to the house. But damn, I was VERY worried about the dozer while it was stuck.

Ended up buying a small 4x4 loader when part of our ‘yard’ colapsed onto the driveway. Built a retaining wall out of 100 8"x8"x8’ pressure treated timbers. That was a long summer.

Currently I’m adding a two story addition to the house. I designed it and have done everything but the concrete work (though I did do the excavation and in-floor heat). Also had to run a new drain to the septic tank.

It’s sort of funny, the addition started with painting and getting new carpet.


  • Sure would be nice to get new windows before we paint.

  • And the wood stove has become an absolute pain (our primary source of heat). Propane would be nice……

  • Sure would be nice to get the washer and dryer out of the kitchen area……

  • Move the mechanical room into the addition and expand the downstairs bathroom……

It started as a one story addition with a flat deck roof. To replace an existing deck off our upstairs bedroom that we never use…. So……

Screw the flat roof and deck on top of it. Just asking for trouble.

So… It’s now a two story addition in the works. I’m at the drywall stage now.

You’ll get used to it :smiley:

Make sure you have a good shop-vac. Always clean up at the end of the day. You don’t have to put tools ‘away’ but organize.

Learned this a long time ago. I’ve done 5 complete tear outs on bathrooms and two kitchens. Having things picked up and ready to go makes a HUGH difference the next day. And, if you just can’t deal with it the next day, or weekend, at least you are not tripping over stuff. And you know where your tools are.

Always role up the site, make it clean and organized at the end of the day.

It’s MUCH easier to get working on something when you don’t have to clean up before you make another mess. :smiley:

Why didn’t you just build scaffolding? When we did my brother in-laws siding we used 2x4’s and some planking for a 4’wide scaffold. The wood eventually went into other projects.

My biggest home project to date was a garage “extension”. I added 12 feet to the back and replaced the roof and most of the walls. After all was said and done there were 12 original 2x4’s in the structure. The roof was the most interesting challenge. We parked a trailer in the center and collapsed the old hip roof into it for removal. The new roof used trusses and I installed most of them myself. I cantilevered the top of the walls out to (create an overhang) and used these to mount the trusses. I would lift each end of the truss up to the overhang and then flip them over upside down. I spanned a couple of the inverted trusses with wood to create a temporary floor and then used that platform to brace the first 4 trusses. I made the windows from scratch from scrap 2x4’s and 1/2" Lexan. To match the windows of the house I put in framing to look like individual panes of glass.

I’m lucky in that most of my friends are do-it-yourselfers. I learned how to shingle a roof by helping a friend do his house. My brother in-law rehabbed a house for resale by cutting the entire back off it and cantilevering it out another 4 feet. The interior was completely reworked and replumbed. I’ve learned a lot by helping with these projects. I helped a friend restore an old airplane and he in turn taught me to fly. I’m now part owner of that airplane which just got an engine swap (bigger engine). Currently I’m in the middle of a sports car project but it is going to have to wait while I replumb my only bathroom. Nothing like having a sewer pipe break over your kitchen ceiling after you take a shower. Thank God for plumbers epoxy.

The payoff for doing things myself is substantial and anytime someone needs help in a project where I’ll learn a new skill I jump at the chance. I consider it a free education with benefits because my friends will then help me with one of my projects.

Before hanging out shingle as a pro, in my first home, I installed 200 amp service, replaced the oil burner with a high efficiency unit, replaced all windows with thermopane vinyl replacement units, resided the house, installed a new garage door, insulated the exterior garage walls and installed electric heat, gutted the kitchen, installed ceramic tile, new cabinets, new appliances, and built a soffit with lighting over the counter areas, rehabbed two bathrooms, added some closets, and recarpeted everything else. Also built a 10 x 12 detached shed with electric service. It paid to make most mistakes on my own nickel. :smiley:

I took an ugly-ass hanging light down from the ceiling and put up one of those round paper ones from Pier 1.

Yep, and I was pretty damn proud of myself for not getting electrocuted or something.

Yes, I still remember asking my brother in-law if the electricity was off when I was installing a ceiling fan. HEY, how about turning it ALL THE WAY OFF!!! ow.

We’ve done quite a bit on our 1890’s farmhouse, but the biggest job was actually building a 52 x 30 two storey garage with a universal access apartment at the back. We needed a place to house my husband’s elderly parents, and we wanted something that looked like our barn which has been around for over 100 years. Had we known what we were getting into, I think we would have moved to another property with a garage and universal access apartment already built. Our plan was to play general contractor, but most of the work seemed do-able, so we did it. Buy scissor trusses? Are you crazy? Our architect designed them, we fashioned a template and made all 26 of them. Putting them in place, however, was a breathtaking circus to behold. Thank god no one was killed.

We still have nightmares about the foundation though. We wanted in-floor radiant heat, then found that no local plumbers were comfortable with this ‘new technology’ to take the job, so we worked with the manufacturer to design the system (6 zones) and spent countless hours dumping gravel, then sand, then metal gridwork, then tied tubing before getting the cement guys to cover it all up while we lay face down on the ground praying. Or was it vomiting? I always get those two mixed up.

My favorite part was the doing the roof, probably because it’s the only part of the building I did by myself, since my husband cries like a little girl when he reaches the 9th rung of a ladder. I’m the one the family calls when someone wants a roof put on, and after that tall, pitched behemoth, all jobs seem easy.

I’m happy to report that my elderly father-in-law now lives comfortably warm in his apartment down the sidewalk, and we keep our formidible collection of power tools in a garage that’s an even 60 degrees in the winter. We also have a magnificent open space on the second floor with 13 foot cathedral ceilings, thanks to those scissor trusses we built by hand. Of course, the space is unfinished, like a holy Roman attic. But I’m thinking of opening a day spa…

We considered scaffolding, which we would have rented. Renting scaffolding is really cheap – ~$100 for a month. But one of the peaks on the house would have been hard to build scaffolding up to – using the man lift we could ‘boom out’ to where we needed to be. Plus, with the man lift, Kevin could use it for some of the other jobs he had – trimming branches on our tall trees and washing the roof. We also used the manlift to do the initial powerwash of the siding, before we started painting.

My husband is the same way.

I put in a patio in the front yard, redid the master bath (new toilet, sink, and flooring), and put new carpeting in three rooms, but those were all accomplished with my parents’ assistance.

All by myself, I’ve repainted the guest room and painted and papered the guest bath.

A few weeks ago i put up a picture.

Do i win?

I pulled out some caulking and replaced it on one shower tile recently.

And I tried to paint the front hallway once. My wife cried.

Since then, I’ve paid other people to put up crown molding, paint my house, and install a front and back patio.

I have more money than ability, and I know my limits.

What a great thread! I wish some of you would post before and after pictures.

I’m currently doing a lot of work on my 40+ year old house now. I’m doing what I can, and paying to have the rest done. My biggest mistake was paying someone to put in new windows. After I watched them get installed, I thought to myself “I could have done that”.

My main project right now is repairing a shower that had evidently been leaking for several years because a copper joint hadn’t been sweated correctly. I’m replacing the rotted sheetrock with cement board, and tiling back over it. I’m putting grout in tonight.

The problem is that it has the feel of a money pit. I’ll be glad when it’s through.


Well… over the last four years my wife and I have done the following:
Built a concrete basement
(Hired a mover to move our house onto it.)
Finished the basement out.
Re-wired the house
Replaced all the plumbing, added 2 bathrooms
gutted the two bedroom attic and converted to a master suite.
Have gutted 75 percent of the house down to the studs/rafters. We had wood shavings in the whole house and have upgraded to fiberglass. finished with drywall
Built some kitchen cabinets and painted the existing after moving our “entrance” from the kitchen to another room.
We are gutting the rest starting on Saturday.
Reshingled the roof
Replaced all the windows
Tiled half the main floor.
and so on an so forth. We no longer call this a renovation. It is now a hobby. :slight_smile:

I’m a little confused by the wording of the OP. What is this word, “done”? I thought the purpose of home improvement jobs was to start as many as possible, and finish none.
[size=1]at least that’s how it feels. I went and started a 600 square foot addition before I completed my basement, which I started before I completed the landscaping, which I started…[/size=1]

Completely remodeled my mother’s two story house, with a full basement, including a kitchen and two bathrooms. Redid the electrical wiring, removed and moved walls, a chimney, did a parquey (spelling) floor, titled the bathroom, redid the plumbing, the roof, sheet-rocked everything, mudded it, painted the whole damn thing, and spent abot 3 months doing this from early morning to late at night with a carpenter friend. :cool:

Great experience but I’ll take my current job.

Y’all are way ahead of me. About the biggest thing I’ve done is revamping the front flower bed, which had become overgrown with weeds, lawn grass, and dead shrubs. Took my wife and I about nine days to tear out the old drip irrigation system, dig out all the dead stuff, cart away enough dirt to lower the bed somewhat, cultivate in some new soil (no power equipment), install a new drip system, plant new shrubs and flowers, and cover everything with pretty red bark mulch. But man, does it look nice now.

The funny part is, our neighbor across the street just poured a concrete border in his front yard to make a flower bed nearly as large as ours. My wife and I pretty much watched in horror, because we knew how hard digging out that grass was going to be. At the rate he’s going, he’ll have it all dug out and ready to plant by the start of June.

I’m a do-it-yourselfer too… or at least I used to be. I look back at some of the projects now and admittedly think gah, how did I ever have the energy?

Dug out a huge area by hand for a stone patio in the backyard. Used the dirt as fill to expand the groundcover islands under my oaks, bounded by many additional tons of moss rock. Laid out many more tons of stone for the patio, adjusting it over a month or so like a giant, absurdly heavy jigsaw puzzle. 49 wheelbarrow fulls of cement.

Built said patio around a rather large arbor. Had to custom order very long 2x10 planks. It’s stunningly nice looking and we’ve had so many passers by either stop and ask or call to get the name of our “builder.” Sorry… he’s retired.

I built 4 adirondack chairs for the patio, all from antique wainscotting from my grandmom’s dining room and inlaid with antique tile coasters. Each too about 5 days and are sofalike comfortable.

Put in a very large stained bookshelf in the library. Dado tolerances were so tight I actually assembled it and could stand on it without so much as a nail holding anything in place. Adding a few secret (well, they used to be) compartments was kinda fun too.

Molding throughout the downstairs.

Have painted and repainted inside and out a couple of times. Yuck.

Put in an entire landscaped, very full and interesting yard with lots of stone and RR tie beds. Maybe that was the most fun.

Wow. Up until I read this thread I was really impressed with everything my wife and I have accomplished, but you guys blow us away. I am humbled!

For the record, we:
-gutted and completely refurbished our kitchen- did everything ourselves except move a gas line;

-refinished our basement- studded out the walls, new electric throughout, sheetrocked the walls and ceiling, mud & tape, new floor, paint, etc; we hired someone to install the carpet;

-replaced all interior doors;

-repainted almost all other rooms except one bathroom (it’s getting gutted within the next year);

-currently installing a garden shed.