5 Common First-Time DIY Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

by - Friday, February 15, 2013

You've been bitten by the DIY bug and cannot wait to begin renovating every square inch of your home. A friend or family member might suggest you start small, or you may consider hiring a contractor, but with plenty of gusto and hammer in hand you decide to begin your whole-home transformation. Fast-forward several months and your lack of experience and good intentions have combined to create a disaster that will probably cost more to repair than the price of initially hiring a professional. If you're considering what seems like a simple DIY project, consider these common first-timer mistakes.

● Underestimating the Budget

Your excitement for the project or limited time frame has left you scrambling to create a simple supply budget. You hastily write down a few numbers and head to the home improvement store to purchase the necessary tools and equipment to complete the job. With materials in cart, you head to the check-out aisle and are floored when the total far exceeds your estimated price. Many first-time renovators fall into the trap of seriously underestimating the amount of money required to complete even the simplest rehab project. While determining the budget, overestimate the price of every piece of lumber, screw and drill bit. Now add another 10 percent onto that final total. It might mean scaling back your expectations, but it's worth it to prevent running out of money before the job is even finished.

● I Can Handle That

Many first-time DIYers suffer from I Can Handle That Syndrome. They believe all the knowledge required to complete any home improvement project is found on the Internet or in a magazine article. Unfortunately, a harsh reality hits these homeowners when they discover they’re in over their head. Start small by tackling repainting a hallway or installing shelving in your child's bedroom. As your become more adept, try tackling a more challenging project. Remain realistic about your skill set and realize it takes years for electricians, plumbers, carpenters and tradesman to learn their craft.

● The Wrong Tools for the Job

When it comes to hanging artwork on the living room wall or even installing a bracket to house your HD TV, it's possible to perform many rudimentary DIY tasks with a simple hammer, nail and flathead screwdriver. However, as the complexity of the job increases, so will the necessity to purchase high-quality and sometimes specialized tools. You might think that jigsaw you purchased at a yard sale will expertly cut your crown molding, but chances are you'll end up with jagged cuts and endless headaches. Before the project begins, research the tools necessary to complete the job correctly and always choose quality.

● Who Needs Permits?

Here's a scenario you might face as a newcomer to home improvement. You're transforming your simple lavatory into the ideal bathroom for two [http://blog.decorplanet.com/2011/02/double-fun-designing-bathroom-for-two.html] and are sure that this minor renovation doesn't require a potentially expensive trip to the local permit office. It might take a sizable bite out of your budget, but cities require homeowners obtain permits before beginning a rehab project to ensure the job is done correctly. If you're not sure the renovation requires a permit, don't be afraid to call and ask, because if you're altering the structure, chances are you will.

● Choosing the Wrong Brushes, Primer and Paint

Painting is a simple job many first-time DIYers are sure they can handle. However, getting the paint to actually adhere to the wall can be trickier than it seems. When choosing a primer, paint and tools, buy quality, and when it doubt, semigloss is usually the most sensible option.

If you're excited about starting a DIY project, don't let careful planning or thoughtful execution put a damper on your enthusiasm. As you become more adept, you'll begin to realize there isn't much you cannot accomplish with the right tools, know-how and a reliable contractor's phone number.

About the Author:
Brian Livingston is a guest blogger and DIY guru. Brian is currently renovating his kitchen and cannot wait to put his skills and tools to the test ripping out the cabinets and replacing the flooring.

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