Your Guide to Building a Home Bar: Building Yourself vs. Hiring Out

So far in our Guide to Building Your Home Bar Series we’ve covered the following aspects of Planning Your Home Bar: 1. Exploring Your Options 2. Layout and Design The last section we’ll cover under Planning Your Home Bar is the decision to build yourself or hire out.

Planning Your Home Bar: Building Yourself vs. Hiring Out

When putting in a home bar, you initially have three basic options. You can purchase and install a Ready-To-Assemble (RTA) home bar, build a custom bar yourself, or hire a contractor to do the custom job for you. The right option for you depends on the amount of free time you have, the amount money you’re looking to spend, how handy you are, the time frame in which you want to complete the project, how many capable buddies you have, who might be willing to help, and some other important factors.

Hiring a Contractor For large or complex bar projects, you’ll probably want to seriously think about hiring a general contractor. A home bar has many facets and could require the expertise of several different craftsmen. A contractor will handle all the plumbing, electrical, carpentry, permits (if needed) and cleanup. A contractor can also work with you on design and will alert you to any potential problems and/or concerns. Most likely he will get the job done quickly, with minimal stress on your end. Before you begin, get a few estimates. They are typically free and you will have greater bargaining power on price in the end if you do. Have your wish list ready in writing, so that neither you, nor the contractor, overlooks anything. Take our layout and design advice, sketching out your ideas and plans, and have these ready as well. Once you receive your estimates read them over carefully! A good estimate will include:

  • a contract
  • price breakout
  • total cost
  • payment terms

Make sure every element that you want in your bar is included in the estimate, before you select the right contractor for the job. Once you select a contractor, make sure you discuss a time line for bar completion. Have the contractor include this date in the contract, along with a penalty clause if it’s not met. Most reputable contractors will do this. Beware of the guy who has six jobs going at once! You want your contractor to show up everyday and get the job done. It is wise to purchase all of the refrigeration units, sinks and large-scale items that you will need for your bar, before your contractor begins on your project! Don’t let the contractor guess on sizing – have all of items at your house. This will eliminate unpleasant surprises and greatly reduce the potential for screw-ups.

Building the Bar Yourself If you’re up for the challenge, building your own bar can be a very rewarding experience! If you’re fairly handy or have fairly handy friends who might be willing to work for beer, your home bar project could be a damn good time. Here’s some real life bar building advice, learned from our experience:

  • Make like a boy scout and be prepared! Get everything you need before you break out the hammers. Plan, measure and then build.
  • It never hurts to have extra materials on hand. Mistakes and surprises happen and when they do, having extra pieces and parts available can save a lot of headaches. Seriously.
  • Don’t be ruled by dollars alone. Staying within your budget is important, but quality is important too! Inexpensive components don’t always last and when you need to fix or replace them, you’re losing valuable time that could be spent relaxing at your bar.
  • Give your friends a place to rest! Arm rests and bar foot rails give your bar a sleek and professional “finished” look and they’re easy to buy and install yourself.
  • If you are enlisting the help of friends, have them over to check out your drawings. Tack them up on a wall and get everyone on the same page. The masterpiece that you’re envisioning might be different from your buddy’s dream bar—so make sure he knows he’s in for.
  • The more the merrier might sound like a good philosophy, but realistically one or two helpers, at any given time, is plenty. The more people you have helping you at once, the more likely it is to morph from making progress on your project to a Joe-telling-Jeff-about-his-hot-new-secretary party. They can discuss the latest babes over a beer, after the bar is built!
  • If you have a workstation located in another area, keep in mind that you need to be able get every piece of the bar from your shop into the actual bar room. There’s nothing worse than putting something together, only to realize that it won’t fit through the doorway.
  • Don’t crack open too many beers until after you’re done working for the day—especially if you’re using power tools. Your limbs and extremities will thank you.

The next post in our Building Your Home Bar Series will cover Standard and Draft Beer Refrigeration. Cheers! [techtags:HOME BAR, BUILDING YOUR HOME BAR, PLANNING YOUR HOME BAR, BUILDING VERSUS HIRING OUT, HOME BAR TIPS]

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