How to Avoid “The Six Deadly Sins of DIY Projects”

From on March 18, 2008 in General

DIY Sins

Recently, the HGTV channel listed “the six deadly sins of DIY projects.” If you’ve ever attempted a home-improvement project, I’m sure some of these will hit close to home with you. What are these “sins,” and how can you avoid falling into these common pitfalls in the future?


Don’t tackle too many projects at once. Remodeling can be a disruptive process for your family, and the less time it takes to complete one area the better. Even if you have the skill to do the work yourself, hiring a professional can make your project go faster and more seamlessly. If you do hire a contractor, get a clearly defined timeline in advance, and do your best to hold him to it. If you decide to do the work yourself, plan accordingly for the time it will take for you to learn as you go.


Although it happens all too often, your project doesn’t have to become a money pit. If doing the work yourself, shop for all materials before you begin to obtain an accurate idea of what your investment will be. Allow a buffer zone in your budget for unforeseen costs such as removal of hidden dry rot or other obstacles. It can be difficult to budget down to the smallest screw, so have a realistic picture in mind ahead of time. If hiring a professional, obtain a bid and contract instead of agreeing to time and materials. If your contractor is held to a contract price, he won’t be temped to extend the time of the project to drive up the cost.


Be humble about your skill level. You may be open to learning new things, but just realize, you can’t learn construction overnight. There are many small steps and details that all contribute to a quality finished product. If attempting a project yourself, be prepared to have to redo certain aspects until it is correct. Remember, your renovation will reflect the quality of the workmanship. You don’t want that to be what catches people’s eyes, the “little glitches” in your learning process. Know where your strong points are, maybe you’re an awful plumber, but the world’s best accountant. Don’t allow your ego to cloud your judgment.


Have a well-thought out plan in mind before you begin your project. Try to create a realistic estimation of cost, time, and disruption to your life. Although it is impossible to foresee every obstacle, your project will definitely go smoother if properly organized ahead of time.


Just expect your home to lose its cleanliness. No matter how vigilant you are about cleaning up, that fine dust will somehow settle right back onto your furniture. Do your best to prepare ahead of time by covering anything important with plastic or sheets, and just look forward to the day when you can give your house that much-needed deep cleaning.


Despite your initial excitement about a renovation project, just expect it to reach the point where you’re wondering what in the world you’ve gotten yourself into. After all of the mess, time, and energy, you may even find yourself disliking you house. No worries, when it’s all said and done, you’ll forget and soon grow to love your new space.

Now that you know what to avoid, here are some do it yourself tips to help you get your project off the ground.