Ask anyone who has completed a do-it-yourself project and they’ll tell you that it took (at least!) twice as much time and three times the money than they thought it would. The basic reason for this is because DIYers usually make a lot of mistakes and those mistakes cause home improvement projects to become more expensive and time-consuming.
Here are 10 surefire ways to avoid the top DIY home-improvement mistakes in the future:
- Secure the required permits — It’s amazing how many DIYers skip this step. Sure, it’s time consuming, and it means you have to deal with the government, but it’s actually in your best interest to get the required home improvement 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 might not cover the improvement). You’ll probably need a permit for any project that is more involved than wallpapering or painting. If you’re unsure, call your local building department and just ask.
- Have all the tools and materials you need available before you start your project — Starting a job without the necessary tools or supplies will slow down the job and delay your progress. Make sure you buy quality tools! They’re a wise investment.
- Prepare the job site for material deliveries — When your suppliers deliver materials, you’ll want to make sure the job site is ready to accept them. You don’t want your materials exposed to the weather while you are working and you should have a storage area to prevent theft.
- Don’t skimp on materials — For example, don’t use 1/4-inch drywall for building walls. Use at least 5/8-inch; 3/4-inch works well as a decent sound barrier. Use 3/4-inch plywood for sub-floors, as it makes for a much stronger floor.
- Prepare the walls for painting — Clean the walls, sand them, and patch any holes before you paint. Use a coat of primer or stain blocker if you’re trying to cover up oil-based paint, stains, paint that might be peeling, or if you’re painting a lighter color over a darker one.
- Use the correct paint — Use flat paint for ceilings. Interior paints should have at least an eggshell, or a satin, finish so you can scrub it clean later. For outdoor decks, use a linseed-oil-based stain to drive the pigment into the wood in order to better preserve it.
- Keep safe while working — You don’t want to end up in the emergency room. Wear safety goggles when using power tools or while working with drywall or wood. Wear a hard hat when you’re working under other people on scaffolding. Open windows when you’re painting, staining, or stripping old finishes off of floors or walls. Don’t wear loose-hanging clothing, especially when using power tools. Wear gloves when carrying wood, metal, or rock (or when hammering) and wear a nail, or tool, pouch to prevent damage to your floors, feet, and pets.
- Measure twice and cut once — Probably the most important rule of any project. If you have to make a mistake, make something too long (you can always make it shorter, later).
- Know the limits of your abilities — You’re not going to be good at everything. If you don’t have a lot of experience with plumbing or electrical work, for instance, don’t attempt these types of projects.
- Don’t start to learn how to do a project on your own house — If you want to learn how to do a project, offer your assistance to a friend who is an experienced DIYer or contractor. And if you have any questions about what you’re doing, make sure to stop and ask.
You probably won’t eliminate all of your DIY home improvement mistakes, but you can probably reduce them by implementing these 10 strategies on your next project.