When you ask people who have done do-it-yourself projects around the house they’ll tell you: The projects took at least twice as much time and three times the money as they had thought. The main reason is through inexperience they made some mistakes that end up making home improvement projects more time-consuming and expensive.
Here are 10 ways to avoid the top DIY home improvement mistakes and ensure your success.
1. Don’t forget to get the required permits. It’s amazing how many DIY’rs skip or avoid this step. Sure, it takes time, and it means you have to deal with the government, but it’s actually in your best interest to get the required permits. The folks in the permitting office will make sure the project is done correctly and that you stay safe in the process. Also, for some projects, you’ll need proof that you have a permit or your insurance company won’t cover the improvement. You’ll probably need a permit for any project changing the structure of your house, any plumbing or electrical work and maybe more. If you’re unsure, call your local building department and ask.
2. It is important to have all the tools and materials you need available before you start your project. Starting a job without the necessary supplies and tools will slow down the job and delay your progress. If you’re buying tools for the project make sure you buy quality tools as they’re a wise investment. The materials are the same. There is nothing worse than only a few months after you complete a project having to again make repairs because of the quality of materials you used.
3. Make sure you have a place on the job site for material deliveries. When your suppliers deliver materials, you need to make sure you have a place to store them out of the weather and so they can’t get stolen. Otherwise have them bought already but only have them delivered as you need them.
4. Don’t skimp on materials both quantity and quality. For example, use 1/2-inch drywall for building walls and 5/8-inch for ceilings. Insulate if you want a good sound barrier. Standard 5/8 inch plywood is good for sub-floors but 3/4 is better. It creates a much stronger floor.
5. Measure twice and cut once. This is probably the most important rule of any project. Most material overruns are from miss cuts or not thinking about how to cut wisely. If you’re going to make a mistake, make it too long. You can always make something shorter. You can’t make it longer.
6. Know the limits of your abilities. You’re not going to be good at everything. If you don’t have a lot of experience at plumbing or electrical work, for instance, don’t attempt those projects or get experienced help.
7. Don’t start to learn how to do a project on your own house. If you have any question about what you’re doing, make sure you stop and ask. Don’t be afraid to get someone experienced to help you. If you want to learn how to do a project on your own, start by offering your assistance to a friend who is an experienced DIY’er or a contractor.
8. When preparing your walls for painting first clean them. Make sure you patch any holes and sand them before you paint. Use a coat of primer or stain blocker if you’re trying to cover over oil-based paint, stains or peeling paint, or if you’re painting a lighter color over a darker color.
9. Make sure you use the correct paint. Use flat paint on ceilings. Interior wall paints should have at least an eggshell or satin finish so you can scrub it. For outdoor decks, use a linseed-oil-based stain to drive the pigment into the wood and preserve it.
10. Keep safe while you work. Wear safety goggles when using power tools. Don’t wear loose, hanging clothing, especially when using power tools. Wear gloves when carrying wood, metal and rock, or when hammering, and wear a hard hat when you’re working under other people on scaffolding. Open some windows when you’re painting or staining, or stripping old finishes off of floors or walls. You don’t want to end up in the emergency room.
You probably won’t eliminate all of your DIY home improvement mistakes, but you can sure reduce them with these 10 tips.