DIY Part 2 – Doing It Right & Avoiding Mistakes

Ok, so you’re ready to do it yourself. And do it right. As noted in DIY Part 1, DIY success depends on a lot of things, the most important being knowing your limitations. Remember, you are replacing a professional contractor who brings knowledge, skill, experience, planning, project management, the right tools and the right materials to the job. If you don’t have these things, then you need to figure out how to get them – fast – before you start.

Step 1 – Do Your Research

What does the project involve? Get a book or read articles on the internet – there’s tons of free stuff online. Videos too if you’re not a big reader. Talk to friends and acquaintances who’ve done it before. Or consult a professional. Or help out on an experienced friend’s project before taking on your own. Make notes.

Step 2 – Planning

What products & materials will you need? How do you use them? Again, research is needed. Maybe a day seminar or two at your local big box store. It’s important not to skimp on materials. Don’t use 1/4 ” drywall instead of 5/8 “. Use at least 3/4 ” plywood for subfloors. Cheap tile will probably crack. Don’t plan to finish your plumbing repair with duct tape – it will probably leak.

How much will it cost? Don’t underbudget. Figure out how much you think it will cost then multiply by 3. Include all the incidental items (nails, staples, tape) because they do add up. Plan on 15% waste on materials. The extra padding will give you a little room for the unexpected …

Do you have the right tools? Will they stand up to the punishment if the work is heavy duty? You may have to beg, borrow, rent or buy. This is a big one; if you don’t have the right tools, it can take you a lot longer to get the job done, and undermine your self confidence.

Do you need a building permit? This would be something you’d need to ask if you’re making structural changes to your home. You’ll may have to phone your city government’s building department if it’s not available on their website. It’s better to err on the side of caution and get the permit. An inspector can help you by ensuring the work is done correctly and to code. Also, if it is discovered later on work was done without a permit, you might have to rip it all out and start over.

Do you have a written work plan? Put together a checklist of everything you’ll need at the various stages to ensure your renovation keeps on track. You should also write down step by step the tasks you’ll need to do to complete your DIY project, including the specific order and “wait periods” (for things to dry, etc.).

Do you have a backup plan? Or resource to ask for help? Another big one. Make sure there is someone you can contact for help if you get in a jam. This could be a handy friend or family member, or a professional Renovation Advisor.

How long to finish? You need to set up a timeline or schedule, especially if it’s a longer project.

Step 3 – Prepare your Job Site

Do you have everything you need? Make sure materials are protected if you will be working outdoors. Make sure all the materials have arrived before starting.

Are you ready to work safely? Take all the necessary safety precautions. Don’t wear loose clothing or jewelry. Wear goggles when cutting or sawing materials. Turn off the main breaker when working with electricity. Don’t stand on the top step of the ladder. I know it sounds obvious but 164,000 people end up in hospital emergency rooms for ladder-related injuries every year for a reason.

Step 4 – Prep Surfaces (if needed)

If you are doing any kind of surface refinishing, you will need to prepped properly. Walls need to be cleaned, patch, sanded, and primed before painting. Wood floors, decks, driveways – same idea.

Step 5 – Work Your Plan

Follow the steps in your work plan. Make sure you take your time. Measure twice, cut once; it’s better for something to be too long (you can always trim it again) over too short.

Step 6 – Clean Up & Disposal

Dispose of any hazardous materials responsibly.

Step 7 – Relax and Enjoy

No instructions needed here :)

This entry was posted on Thursday, March 1st, 2007 at 11:18 am and is filed under DIY, Home Improvement, Manage Your Home, Remodeling, Reno Wisdom, Renovations. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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