Whenever embarking on a new home remodeling project, homeowners here in the Hudson Valley are often faced with the decision of whether to tackle the work themselves or to hire a professional. After all, there are many projects that don't require a whole heck of a lot of machinery, tools, experience, or expertise, and going the DIY patio route could mean saving a ton of money.
The installation of a new patio or a retaining wall is somehow deceiving for homeowners. While these projects should be put in the same bucket as the 'do-not-touch-electrical-stystem upgrades,' homeowners sometimes give it a whirl. Unfortunately, I cannot remember a time when this courage paid off with great reward. For the DIYers we work with each season, I suggest something a little less involved like planting the plants or staining the existing deck. Here's a few things to consider before you dive in head first to landscape construction.
1. The various materials needed are very heavy
Patio and retaining wall projects are construction projects—no doubt about it. Whether built from natural stone or concrete pavers, these materials are heavy, large, and difficult to handle. And thats just the pavers! Because we live in a freeze/thaw climate in Dutchess County, there is a lot more crushed stone and sand that needs to be installed underneath the pavers.
2. The heavy equipment needed is really expensive and not easy to use
Unless you plan on excavating the earth, moving pallets of stone that weigh 3k pounds or more, and shoveling gravel all by hand, you are going to need some equipment. Most of what you need is rentable for a daily fee, but you will need to know how to operate things like excavators, skid steers, plate compactors, an large demo cutting saws. A patio installation project requires a lot of machinery including a dump truck to haul all your material around.
3. There are many tips and tricks that you only know if you do it all day.
Landscape construction is a niche skill. There are a large number of tricks that come from doing patio, walkway, and retaining wall designs and installations all day, everyday. And while many of these aren't 100% necessary for a DIY patio project, many of them are necessary for a professional looking end product. There are literally hundreds of paver patterns alone! There's nothing worse than spending a huge amount of time and money on a home remodeling project only to be unsatisfied with the results.
4. Redos and repairs are very expensive
If you choose to go the DIY route for your new patio or landscape project and for some reason it doesn't result in a success, it is not easy to fix. Choosing the wrong paint color for your master bedroom is really terrible. But it is easily fixed. Incorrectly installing a patio, retaining wall, or paver walkway is not. Often times when we are brought in to repair a project it is considerably more expensive than if we started from scratch. Many times there is stone or paver material that is unsalvageable. Sometimes there is water damage as a result of an incorrectly pitched patio. Whatever the case may be, just know that mistakes can be costly to repair.