DIY Your Home Improvement
We all have projects we want done around the house. Some of them are simple. Some are complete remodels. Ideally, I would love to hire a professional contractor with a team of skilled workers to completely overhaul my home. I could move my family into a 5-star hotel while the work was being completed, and live the high life for as long as it took. However, that isn’t going to happen. We are a one income family and there just isn’t the budget for those luxuries. That’s why we have been tackling all our remodel projects ourselves. I have learned a lot on this journey. That’s why I have put together some tips to help you DIY your home improvement projects.
Prior to home ownership, I had enough skill to plunge a toilet or change a light bulb. I was reasonable skilled at assembling a bookcase as long as it came with detailed instructions and only required a screwdriver.
Since becoming a home owner, I have done or assisted with the following projects:
- Tearing out a kitchen floor
- Replacing kitchen cabinets
- Demolishing an entire second floor bathroom
- Installing new subflooring
- Replacing wall studs
- Hanging drywall
- Taping, mudding and sanding drywall
- Painting walls and ceilings
- Hanging doors
- Painting trim, baseboards, and doors
- Installing a new bathtub, and the plumbing to go with it
- Putting in new mirror and vanity
- Installing lighting fixtures
- Replacing ceiling fans
- Removing and replacing electrical sockets and light switches and plates
- About a million more little things (seriously, the list goes on and on)
What You Need to DIY Your Home Improvement
Oh, so much patience! Unless you or your significant other is a contractor by trade, everything you do will be a learning experience. You will need to take the time to learn what to do for your project. You will have to take your time with your work to ensure it is done properly. Things may not go right the first time, and you will have to re-do them. Remaining patient when you DIY your home improvement project is incredible difficult at times. However, you will have a much better experience if you manage to keep your cool.
A Reliable Babysitter
If you’re a parent, and I am guessing you are since you are reading a parenting blog, you will want to make sure you have a reliable babysitter prior to starting any DIY project. I am speaking from experience. It is impossible to chase a toddler, or care for an infant, or even manage slightly older children when you are trying to make improvements to your home.
My parents were an absolute life saver to us. They have been absolutely wonderful with watching our son on the weekends. At times they have kept him from sun up to sun down, and occasionally overnight. Its been the only way we have been able to get the work done on our house. My husband works long hours during the week, so we literally just have Saturday and Sunday to work. Those days are usually crammed full of tasks for the projects we are working on. Having my son out of the way has allowed us to accomplish much more in the short periods of time that we have.
Tools and Supplies
Any time you decide to DIY your home projects, one of the first steps you need to do is figure out what you need to get the job done. Not only will you want to figure out what materials you need (like paint, brushes, mud, grout, tile, carpet, etc.) but you will want to figure out what tools are needed to get it done. For example, if your project is painting, you will obviously need paint. But you will also need brushes, rollers, a paint tray, painter’s tape, a paint stick for mixing, etc.
Whenever possible, get all of your tools and supplies prior to beginning the project. As we have learned the hard way, it can really slow down the process if you have to stop working and run to the store 3 different times in one day because you are missing something you need.
This one is so important when you DIY your home improvement projects. You will need time and plenty of it. As I mentioned above, DIY home improvements take a lot of work. There is a lot of research, preparation, and work involved. Don’t forget the clean-up time at the end of the day. When you plan out a project, it is very important that you give yourself a realistic estimate on how long it will take to complete. I always recommend adding additional time for all the unpredictable things that may come up. You obviously don’t want to start a month-long project if you have a bunch of engagements planned that month.
Any DIY’er knows that YouTube can be a great resource. As I stated when explaining my credentials, I came into home ownership with zero knowledge of how to do anything. Luckily, my husband is pretty handy. However, neither of us knew anything about hanging drywall. As it turned out, we ended up having to re-do the drywall in about 75% of our home. Enter YouTube.
If you want to DIY your home improvement project, I highly recommend researching the process first. Get a basic understanding of what needs to be done. YouTube was a great resource for us. You can literally type in the specific type of work you are doing and find 100 videos of people showing you a step-by-step process. It also becomes a life saver when you run into little bumps in the road. I guarantee you aren’t the first person to experience whatever issue you are having. Look it up on YouTube to find helpful tips and solutions.
Things to Remember
You are Not a Pro
When you DIY your home improvement project, keep in mind that you are not a professional builder, painter, plumber, or whatever. Its going to take longer to complete tasks. When its something you do every day, you get very fast. When you learn something new, it takes time and practice. Give yourself a break if you think a task should take an hour and it takes you three hours.
Have a Plan
Any DIY project will go much more smoothly if you start with a plan in place. Whether you right it down, or talk it out, its important to know the steps you need to take to accomplish your goal. Have a plan and stick to it.
Having a plan can also help you plan financially for your project. Most people choose to DIY home projects because they cant afford to have it professionally done. Having a plan can help you budget for supplies and tools you will need, and save you money in the long run.
Prepare for Failure
Because you aren’t a professional, things aren’t always going to go perfectly according to your plan. Be flexible. Be prepared that you will need to do somethings more than once to get them the way you want them to be. Sometimes unexpected things will come up that you didn’t foresee. That happens. Know it happens, be ready for it, and adapt.
I’ll give you some examples that we have come across. When my husband and I remodeled our bathroom, we removed a poorly installed shower insert. Behind it, we found rotted studs in the wall. This was something we hadn’t counted on. Had the insert been installed properly, this wouldn’t have happened. We had to adjust our plan and take time to replace and reinforce the studs in the wall.
Another time, we wanted to remove some the ugly blue paneling the previous owners had installed in the living room. Upon pulling it away from the wall, we found so much glue on the drywall that we’d never be able to scrape it all off. Now we were faced with cutting out and replacing the glue covered drywall throughout a massive portion of our home.
Remember, It’s Not That Serious
When things go wrong, as they inevitably will at times, its so important to stay calm. Don’t allow yourself to get worked up over the issues. It can be difficult. It can be frustrating. Trust me when I tell you, I get it. However, most things can be fixed. As long as nobody died, its really not that serious. An inconvenience? Yes. The end of the world? No.
Make it Fun
The most important thing I can tell you is this: Have some fun. You have decided to DIY your home improvement, and it will be a lot of hard work. That doesn’t mean you cant have fun. My husband and I like to listen to music, or comedy podcasts while we work. It helps pass the time. We like to find the humor in things. When things go wrong, we try and laugh about it. When things are going right, we try and sing and dance and make each other laugh while we work. It makes for a much more pleasant experience.
What DIY home improvement projects have you done? Or what would you like to do? Do you have any tips for others? I’d love to hear about them in the comments.
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