10 Questions to Ask Before Starting a Do-It-Yourself Project

by Scarlett
May 13, 2015
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Regardless of how easy a home improvement project may appear, there are usually snags along the way. Ask people who have completed do-it-yourself (DIY) projects and they will tell you that the project took at least twice as much time and three times the money they thought they would spend. The basic reason is that DIYers usually make a lot of mistakes that end up making home improvement projects more expensive and time-consuming.

The key to a successful project is usually the result of things that happen well before you pick up a tool. Careful planning, patience and an optimistic mindset are all that”s needed to successfully complete any project.

By answering the following questions before starting your project you can put yourself on the road to a successful DIY project.

window_renovationIs your DIY project cosmetic, structural or a system change? If it’s cosmetic, like painting, you’re probably safe tackling it on your own. If it’s structural (involving changes to the foundation, walls or home exterior) or a system change (affecting the plumbing or heating and air conditioning), it is probably better left for a certified professional contractor.

Have you done your research? Do you know what tools and material you will need and how much they will cost? Will you need permits from the local or city government? There’s a good chance you will if the project is structural or involves a system change. Research the project by reading books and magazines, talking to friends and family, comparing Internet sites. Hardware stores may also have experts on hand to guide you.

Have you created a realistic budget? Estimate how much the project will cost, then add at least 20-40%. Make sure you account for materials and tools you will need to buy or rent, the fees for any necessary permits, the possibility of needing additional materials, and “any unforeseen hiccups”.

How will you pay for the project? Some people set aside cash ahead of time. Other options include home equity loans or home equity lines of credit. Hardware stores usually offer financing through store credit cards. The interest rate is likely higher than a home equity loan. If you decide to finance your project with a store credit card, look for deals where you can pay off the amount in a certain number of months without incurring interest.

Can you complete the project safely? Will you be working on an older home that might have hazards such as asbestos or lead-based paint? Have you familiarized yourself with any power tools you might need to use? Do you have stepladders, safety goggles, gloves and other supplies?

Do you have time to complete the project? Just as they often cost more than expected, DIY projects often take longer than expected. Allow for extra time and a learning curve.

Can you complete the job by yourself? If not, who will help? If you make that decision ahead of time, you won’t have to stop to train a person in the middle of the project.

Do you have the patience to do the project? Be honest with yourself. Many people end up with half-finished projects around the house because they don’t have the patience to see them through.

Do you 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. Make sure you buy quality tools; they are a wise investment.

Is the job site ready 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. You should also have a storage area to prevent theft. Once you have answered the above questions, you may be ready to commence your project. . If you are a DIY novice, start small. Even the tiniest accomplishments will bolster your self confidence and lead to bigger, more complicated projects. Soon you”ll be inspiring and sharing your skills with someone else.

While certain projects may only require one person, working with someone else is almost always more fun. Asking a friend to help you out now is better than having to call a professional later. Remember to thank your friend once the project is over and return the favour in due time.


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