If you’re deciding what color to paint your walls or building your own backyard deck, taking on a new around-the-house project can be daunting. And whether you’re a seasoned DIY veteran or a home improvement rookie, knowing what to expect is the best way to set yourself up for success.
Check out our tips on how to avoid the most common DIY mistakes to make sure your project runs as planned.
Make a List
Before you start any DIY project, it’s important to know exactly what tools and equipment you’ll need for every step of the way. Nothing slows down a project like having to run to the hardware store midday to pick up that set of missing nails.
Using the wrong tools is a quick way to ruin your project. Take the time to evaluate your toolkit and be certain it’s equipped with the necessary materials. If you’re confused about which tools you’ll need, keep in mind that the basic toolbox contains about 10 essential tools.
Check for Permits
Depending on the project at hand, you may need a permit. A big mistake DIYers make is assuming they won’t need one, even though most projects do. If you’re unsure about your project, ask your local building authority.
As bothersome as getting a permit may seem, they’re an important safety measure. They’ll also help you out in the long run – authorities are quick to shut down projects midway if you don’t have a permit.
A good rule of thumb to follow is that you’ll need a permit for anything larger than painting and wallpapering.
Record Accurate Measurements
Surprising as it may seem, many DIYers overlook the importance of accurate measurements. But inaccurate measurements are a sure way to end up with a ruined project – and a lot of frustrations. To ensure accurate measurements, learn how to transfer a measurement and make sure to size the tape measure to the specific job. While the jumbo-size tape measures seem powerful, you don’t need the large one for a smaller measuring job.
To avoid any problems, make sure your equipment is 100% accurate. When possible, hold the work in position and mark directly on the piece. Finally, measure, re-measure, and measure one more time.
Start With Smaller Projects
While a new project is exciting, a DIYer’s biggest mistake is biting off more than they can chew. Both experienced DIYers and novices can create big problems when they don’t know what they’re doing.
If you’ve never worked with anything electrical, don’t try to wire a new plug. Be honest about your ability to successfully see out a project, and don’t be afraid to ask for help.
And while you may be qualified for the job, it’s important to factor in the time and money you’ll need to spend. Make sure you’re invested in the process before you begin – the last thing you want is a half-completed project sitting in your backyard.
Under-budgeting and Under-estimating
Before you begin, consider drawing up a detailed budget of what you can afford and what the project will actually cost. This can help you understand if the project is feasible.
Most projects will have unexpected expenses – and almost always take longer than anticipated. Having a detailed project budget and timeline can keep you on track with your finances.
To avoid the vicious cycle of half-finished DIY projects, set realistic goals. Each project will take a certain amount of time. If you’re unsure of how long a task should take, talk to your local hardware store or search online for message boards with similar projects.
Ask the Pros
When it comes to DIY, we sometimes overestimate the task at hand. And while some projects – such as landscaping, seating, or painting – can be tackled over the weekend, others – like outdoor pathways, retaining walls, and closet installations – are best left for the professionals.
DIY projects are a great way to update your home. When you prepare properly and go into each project with a solid plan for success, you’ll experience the satisfaction of a DIY job well done.