The Risks and Rewards of Doing It Yourself

So you stopped at McDonald’s to buy a couple of combo meals and a happy meal or two for the little ones. After you’ve finished taking out a second mortgage to try and cover the costs of a fast-food meal for your family, you realize you should probably find some ways to pinch a few pennies. You may have been thinking about hiring someone to do a few projects around your house but with how much groceries alone are costing these days, it’s looking like that might not be in the cards anymore. You’ll either have to put things off indefinitely or figure out how to Do It Yourself.

When it comes to the term “DIY” you probably fall into one of two camps: You’re ready to roll up the sleeves of your flannel shirt and bust out your sledgehammer, or you don’t have the confidence or desire to start making physical changes to your home and would much rather watch Chip and Joanna take on those challenges. Wherever you fall, the rewards of doing your own home project are enormous, beyond just financial. Here are a few tips for the would-be DIYer.

Make a plan: Don’t get things started until you have a solid plan in place. Figure out what you want to accomplish, what materials you’ll need, and whether you will have to learn any new skills to get it done. Make a rough timeline and budget, but keep in mind, that these things invariably take more time and money than you initially think.

Start Small: If this is your first DIY project, don’t bite off more than you can chew. Even though you may have watched a thousand episodes of This Old House, that doesn’t mean you’re ready to gut your entire home. Try to tackle bite-sized projects so you can build skills and confidence; start with those things that have been bugging you for ages. Maybe you hate the paint color in your bedroom, or your faucet has a slow drip. Going for the low-hanging fruit first will give you a better idea of what will be required to take on something bigger.

Find easy wins: When you do start doing bigger things, they can sometimes be quite intimidating (especially if you’re a first-timer). Look for ways to break things up so that you don’t get bogged down and discouraged. Maybe you can mount that new light fixture early so you can get a vision of the future of the room, or you could see what that antique door looks like when it’s stripped of all those layers of paint. While it may seem counterproductive to take breaks from major jobs to do something more inconsequential, getting that rush of accomplishment can give you just the boost you need to be more productive going forward.

Get good advice: If you have absolutely no idea how to do something, don’t just charge ahead all gung-ho. Enthusiasm rarely makes up for ignorance. Figure out what resources are available to you, and use them! The internet is a DIYer’s best friend. You can learn how to do almost anything on YouTube, although make sure to watch more than just one video before getting into things. Do you have a friend who works in the trades? Pick their brain! Maybe take a class or two at your local community college. Don’t use your lack or knowledge as an excuse to not get things done, go learn!

Know your limits: If you do come up against something that is beyond your knowledge or skill, don’t be afraid to get some help. If your electrical needs an overhaul, it is probably best to call in a professional electrician. If you’re wanting to remove a load-bearing wall, it might be a good idea to get a contractor involved, or at least have it looked at by an engineer. Don’t beat yourself up trying to do something that is beyond you, especially when your safety (or that of your family) might be involved.

This post just scratches the surface of home remodeling advice. There are few feelings like the sense of accomplishment you will get when you stand back and look at a job well done in your home. Once you have a few jobs under your belt, maybe you will be the one dishing out DIY encouragement and advice! Consider this your friendly nudge to give that project that’s been nagging at you a try. Who knows? You may not want to take your tool belt off.

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