We’re a nation of do-it-yourselfers. Many of us love nothing more than spending Saturday morning at one of the vast home improvement stores that have sprung up in the last decade like mushrooms after a rainfall. We arrive home with cars filled with materials, ready to tackle small or large remodeling jobs.
By doing it ourselves, we save money. Right?
Yes. Usually….unless you come up against one of these common 10 pitfalls.
Isolate the work zone. Depending on what you are doing, this may entail taping plastic over doorways, windows and built-ins to minimize dust and debris from getting everywhere. Or, it may be as simple as moving some furniture around and rolling up a rug. Assemble your tools where are working and if you don’t finish the job, plan to leave them there until you can get back to work. Leave everything neat and orderly to make picking up where you left off easy and painless.
Protect your floors. If you scratch a wood or tiled floor, you are left with an unsightly blemish. Be sure to cover the floor with an old rug or some other kind of padding when you move heavy equipment or appliances.
Don’t buy cheap stuff. Nowhere does the adage about being pennywise and pound foolish apply more aptly than for home improvements. If you invest in quality, you will be rewarded with longevity and fuss-free maintenance. It’s equally important to use green materials when you can. They rarely are more expensive than other material and always are a good investment.
Pay attention to prep work. It’s tedious, for sure, but it saves time later. The finished work will look the way it is supposed to and last as it should. Shoddy prep will come back to haunt you every time.
Use the right tool. The right tool for the job makes a significant difference and if you try to “make do” with the wrong tool, you ask for trouble. You can destroy the tool, ruin the job, and even cause injury with the wrong tool.
Measure accurately. It’s surprising how many people don’t do this. Measure twice and cut once is the mantra for carpenters and tailors. For the do-it-yourselfer, it should be measure thrice! At least. Make sure you know what you are doing; even a quarter of an inch can mean the difference between a flat surface and a slanted one, a plumb door and one that’s off kilter.
Turn off the water. When you undertake any plumbing job, know where the main cut off for the water is and use it. Don’t convince yourself that turning off the water valve under the sink is all you need to do. It may be, but if it’s not, you are in for trouble.
Don’t ignore permits. Find out from the town whether the job you are undertaking requires a permit. If it does, get it. Yes, it costs a little money and you will need to get a building inspector to sign off on your work, but if you don’t have one you could be sorry. If something goes wrong, your homeowner’s insurance probably will not cover it. Talk about money!
Safety must come first. Even the pros wear safety gear when they do a job so don’t be foolish. Wear goggles, ear plugs, and good heavy gloves when you work with certain tools and in some situations. Heavy boots are a good idea, too.
Work with a realistic budget. Projects always cost more than expected. Always! When you price materials, permits, and other expenses, be honest with yourself. In the long run, you will be happy you do not run into any surprises — or at least fewer than you might.
It’s satisfying to tackle and successfully complete a home improvement project. If you take a few precautions and face the job with realistic expectations, you won’t need to call in an expert to bail you out. And, yes, you will save money.