How to Avoid the Pitfalls of Doing It Yourself

Tackling a home project can be risky business that depends on the complexity of the job and your approach and experience.

By Gene And Katie Hamilton

Choices in Attic Flooring

Too often an unsuccessful improvement or repair project is the result of a DIYer’s over confidence, inadequate planning skills, and having no understanding of what’s involved. Add to that an unrealistic aspect of the cost involved and time required and you’ve got reason for some homeowners being disappointed in the results.

I’m not a contractor, I’m just a homeowner who has been in the DIY trenches for a long time and have a realistic respect for all the complexities of a project. I’m not talking about basic repair work like replacing a window screen or painting a room, I’m referring to replacing that window with a new one or painting a two-story house. These are complicated jobs requiring skills, tools and equipment not in the realm of a typical homeowner.

You can learn a lot watching YouTube videos and home improvement before-and-after TV shows, many with personal drama for excitement. In a mere 24-minute segment, a transformation is completed because in the interest of time, the behind-the-scene crew has prepared and completed the work in various stages. That doesn’t happen in real life so the video often portrays the project as quick and easy. We all know enough about life that rarely is anything quick and easy, especially a home improvement. In reality snafus can be any number of DIY homeowner mistakes or mis-steps.

Here’s our best advice with take-aways for doing it yourself.

**Do your homework and research and understand the process of the job.

**Find out if a permit is required, designed to assure the work meets safety standards set by local building codes. In most areas plumbing and electrical work requires a license, ask your local building department for their requirements.

**Determine what skills are needed to make the job a success and decide if you have those skills or want to learn them.

**Decide what tools and equipment you need to complete the jobs, appraise what you have and need to buy and compare renting or buying expensive tools.

**Make a preliminary plan of the steps involved. Write it down, put it in your cell’s notepad, do whatever it takes to itemize every phase of the work. Make a list of tools and equipment you have or need.

**Evaluate how much time you can devote and schedule plenty of extra time for surprises that might occur.

** Look at your budget and decide if you want to spend the money.

When you successfully complete an improvement in your home you’ll enjoy a pride of ownership, and a real sense of accomplishment that’s hard to beat.

Don't want to get involved doing it yourself? Click Home Advisor, a free referral service that connects homeowners with local contractors.

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