Planning Your DIY Project - 8 Simple Steps to Follow in Your Home Renovation and Repair Projects
By Alan Woodbridge
Ready to start your first serious DIY project?
Read through the checklist below to make sure you are well prepared
to start - and finish! - the job:
Do an overview of the project, making sure that you understand
all its requirements. Sometimes imagining that you have been
hired to do the job may help you take a better perspective on
what it will take to complete the task.
Be realistic about your expectations. If you are just a beginning
DIYer, consider completing a few small projects (like putting
up shelves or fixing a garden fence) before attempting a major
one. Ideally, for your first big DIY project you should select
an area where it will least affect your lifestyle if left unfinished
- for example, your basement or outdoors. Don't attempt replumbing
the house as your first project!
Know where to seek help if needed. Your sources might include
DIY books and magazines, relevant web sites, and DIY-savvy friends
and relatives. If you are about to venture into a completely
new territory, you might find it helpful to hire a professional
for a few hours and try to learn the essential techniques from
Make a list of materials you need - and buy them all BEFORE
you start the project. This will minimize the need for frustrating
runs to the store, allowing you to completely focus on the job.
are many online tools available for estimating the quantity
of materials (like paint or tiles) that you need for a project
- make use of those to save time. Some useful online estimators
can be found here: http://www.construction-resource.com/construction-calculator.php.
(It is also a good time saving idea to add about 10% to your
calculated material requirements to allow for waste.)
Make a realistic budget. Remember to budget for little things
such as nails, screws, hinges etc. The little things, when combined,
tend to add up to significant amounts that are often overlooked
during the planning stage.
Make a schedule. Be sure to allow for unexpected delays or having
to redo parts of the project. If you project is based outdoors,
don't forget to take weather conditions into account. Consider
how possible interruptions in the project are likely to affect
your daily routines, and plan accordingly. For example, if your
place has only one bathroom, you would want to finish any bathroom
renovation project as quickly as possible.
with material estimators, there are time estimates available
online and in printed sources on how long it takes to complete
certain tasks. Again, adding 10% to the suggested time requirement
may save you unnecessary frustration.
that every project is unique. Think where you are most likely
to encounter problems, and allow extra time for figuring out
solutions. Some problems are fixed pretty quickly - it is figuring
out how to do it that can be time consuming.
Know what motivates you best and have a strategy on how to stay
motivated. It is important to understand what motivational strategy
works best for you, and use it consistently. Have a clear goal
in mind all the time while you are on the project. Asking yourself
two simple questions - "what will happen if I do?"
and "what will happen if I don't?"- is one effective
motivational technique. This is especially true in the case
of DIY, where your actions or lack thereof are likely to have
immediate - and tangible - results.
Last but not least - don't beat yourself when something does
not go according to plan, especially if you are just starting
out. This includes bad time estimates that tend to be the number
one cause of frustration in DIYers. Remember that no job is
exactly the same no matter how many times you do it, so you
cannot possibly plan for everything. That said, your estimating
and project management skills should improve over time.
Woodbridge writes about DIY
projects, home improvement, and personal motivation. He
is a member of the team that runs DIYProjects.info: http://www.diyprojects.info