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6 Things to Consider Before Your Next DIY Project


by Sarah Steinberg


January 12, 2015


New year, new you! Getting ready to tackle a DIY project for your home? Before you get started, there are a few things you should consider.

The new year heralds notions of self-improvement and fosters an innate sense of change. Perhaps, this is the year that you'll resolve to join a yoga class, weed out your cluttered closet, or better yet, tackle a Pinterest-inspired DIY project. Armed with motivation and Google at your disposal, anything is possible. Not so fast. When it comes to DIY projects for the home, some things are better left to the pros. While I admire homeowner ambition, let's take a giant step backward and reflect on the process.


1. Do you have the required skills?  When all is said and done, your finished DIY project should be polished and display superior craftmanship. Believe me, you don't want your project to end up on a Buzzfeed article like, "31 Horrendous Pinterest Fail Monstrosities." With that in mind, think about your strengths and weaknesses. Are you comfortable using power tools? Do you know how to install flooring? Can you neatly paint a room without getting paint all over your pets and furniture? Make a list. After a brief brainstorming session, calculate the potential risks and dangers of doing your own electricity and plumbing. When in doubt, err on the side of caution.


2. Be prepared. Preparation prevents failure. Think about it. Do beginning teachers teach without lesson plans? Do novice bartenders mix drinks without consulting a recipe? Lay out a thorough plan of action: break it down into manageable parts, step by step. Approximately how long will the project take? How will you manage your unlimited or limited time efficiently? If anything, don't underestimate the value of your own time.


3. Do you have the necessary tools and materials? This may seem obnoxiously simple, but your plan should also include a written list of materials. The last thing you need is to be up to your eyeballs in ceramic title for a kitchen backsplash without any grout. If you need to rent, buy, or borrow tools, make arrangments before you start the project.


4. What kind of space do you need? If you're creating a faux-leafy wreath to display during warmer months or a hipster Mason jar creation, a kitchen table will probably suffice; however, if you're refinishing furniture you might need a vacant garage or a designated work area in the basement. The scope and scale of your DIY project will determine what kind of space you need. If your project finds its home in a communal living area, remember to keep it clean and tidy. Your roommates or family will thank you.


5. Set a budget and stick to it. Generally speaking, what's most appealing about a DIY project is the price. You might be able to upcycle materials that you already own, or purchase mundane items at a low cost. Be inspired and get creative, but the trick is to keep your imagination and expectations in check. Know when to call it off, especially if expenses soar beyond your limit. Also, going back to consideration #2, research the cost of your DIY project versus what the professionals charge. Is the difference worth your time and effort?


6. Above all, be realistic. This step is important and wildly underrated. Do you have the experience, materials, time, space, and funds to take on this project? What are the pros and cons? Don't let HGTV, Houzz, and Pinterest fool you with their flawless photography. If something seems too easy, it probably is. Follow your gut instinct. In the end, here's the bottom line: know when to ask for help and call in the pros.

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