Ask people who have completed do-it-yourself projects and they’ll tell you that the projects took at least twice and much time and three times the money they thought they would. The basic reason is that DIYers usually make a lot of mistakes that end up making home improvement projects more expensive and time-consuming.
Here are 10 surefire ways to avoid the top DIY home improvement mistakes in the future and ensure success.
1. Take out the required permits — it’s amazing how many DIYers skip 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 make sure 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 won’t cover the improvement. You’ll probably need a permit for any project larger than wallpapering and painting. If you’re unsure, call your local building department and ask.
2. Have all the tools and materials you need available before you start your project — starting a job without the necessary tools and supplies will slow down the job and delay your progress. And make sure you buy quality tools. They’re a wise investment.
3. 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 want to have a storage area to prevent theft.
4. Don’t skimp on materials — for example, don’t use 1/4-inch drywall for building walls. Use at at least 5/8-inch; and 3/4-inch works well for a good sound barrier. Use 3/4-inch plywood for sub-floors. It creates a much stronger floor.
5. 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 over oil-based paint, stains or peeling paint, or if you’re painting a lighter color over a darker color.
6. Use the correct paint — use flat paint ceilings. Interior 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.
7. Keep safe while working — you don’t want to end up in the emergency room. Wear safety goggles when using power tools or working with drywall or wood. Wear a hard hat when you’re working under other people on scaffolding, and open some windows when you’re painting or 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 and rock, or when hammering, and wear a nail or tool pouch to prevent damage to your floors, feet, and pets.
8. Measure twice and cut once — probably the most important rule of any project. If you’re going to make a mistake, make it too long. You can always make something shorter. You can’t make it longer.
9. 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.