DIY Home Project Questions Before You Start Your Project

by Silicon Valley Blogger on 2010-08-056

Things you should know before you pick up a hammer.

It figures that I would broach this topic given that my spouse and I are not at all handy. We end up paying for most major repairs around our house since we don’t trust ourselves to do the job well. And in California, that can add up to quite a lot!

For many people, a day off work or a spare weekend can mean heading out to their local DIY store to stock up on the materials they need for a good home improvement project. Ideally, doing your own projects can save you a good amount of money, but there are caveats here. Given the number of DIY accidents that occur every year with alarming regularity, are these expeditions always such a good idea? I’ve brought up some of these issues in a past article that asks the question: Can Cheaper Goods And Lower Prices Put Us At Risk? Now here are a few other questions to ask yourself before you decide to take on a DIY project.

Before You Try A DIY Home Project, Ask These Questions First

Question #1: Are you truly capable of doing the job?
All too often we rush into doing a job without consciously thinking about how it will end up. You need to stop and ask yourself whether you can honestly complete it with the quality finish you need.

DIY projects

Some tasks such as painting jobs are easy enough, provided you read up on the subject and get some good tips beforehand. But anything in the realm of plumbing or electrical should definitely be left to the experts. And please don’t ever consider doing anything that involves dealing with gas.

Question #2: What is the likely end result going to be?
Ask yourself whether you can really get the final results you want when you tackle a DIY job. For instance, have you ever painted skirting boards before? Do you know how to do it and do you have the patience to get it done right?

do it yourself repairs
Image from crazy way to fix your sink!

If you know that you are asking for trouble doing this, or if you aren’t going to be committed enough to do the job well, you would be better off getting someone else to do the work. Otherwise, you could pay out for all your materials and still end up having to pay again to get someone else to remedy your mistakes.

Question #3: Is your end result going to last?
You may be able to build a very rudimentary brick wall yourself. But how good will it look? And will it fall over at the slightest touch? If the answer is yes, call in a professional instead. Some jobs require a lot of experience to get them done right.

Question #4: How much would it cost to get a professional to do the job?
If you are unsure about doing a particular DIY project, determine how much you can expect to spend when hiring a professional. It could be less than you think. It’s one thing to do something yourself if you know you will enjoy it and it isn’t too difficult. But trying to repaint the whole exterior of your house when you hate painting or hate heights, or if you get bored easily, is asking for trouble.

Be Honest With Yourself

And here’s the final most important point of all: Be honest with yourself!

If your aim is to save money, you’ll need to weigh that against your ability to get something done. Making mistakes when you attempt to do something yourself can cost you even more money. Worse than that, you could end up with a job half done that won’t get finished until you have the money to get someone else to finish it for you.

fixing your car lock
Image from

The thing to remember is that you can really get into some serious debt by trying to tackle home DIY projects yourself — that is, if you cause more damage than good. Sure, you may want to save money, but doing everything on your own can be a false economy at times. Make sure you don’t fall into this trap! And if you’re the handy sort, well I could only wish we were friends 😉 .

Copyright © 2010 The Digerati Life. All Rights Reserved.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one } August 6, 2010 at 4:00 am

Actually I am a big fan of DIY projects. There is so much information on websites and even YouTube that it gives even the least skilled person the edge up. Plus you get the personal satisfaction of doing the job yourself. Finally you usually save a lot of money in the process.

I agree there are some jobs you might should not tackle, but for the most part that is a minimal amount of things. Replacing faucets, doing flooring or backsplashes, painting, etc are all examples of great DIY projects.

Kosmo @ The Soap Boxers August 6, 2010 at 6:05 am

Knowing your own limits is a nice skill to have 🙂

I can do fairly simple stuff around the house, but I’m no Tim Taylor. (er, maybe I am – but I’m definitely no Handy Manny). Better to hire someone for the bigger stuff than to completely mess things up.

Luckily, I have a co-worker who works at a very reasonable rate.

Paul August 6, 2010 at 6:45 am

Maybe you don’t trust yourself to do the job right, but most jobs are not that difficult and with the Internet you can find how to videos for just about anything these days. I’ve taught myself just about everything possible with DIY repairs – from plumbing, to wiring to replacing windows. Have I made some mistakes? Sure! But the cost savings and the gratification of completing a complex project have been more then rewarding.

Anthony August 6, 2010 at 7:40 am

My friend recently poured a 10′ x 12′ cement pad in his backyard. Doing this himself saved a couple thousand dollars. I wish I have the skill and knowledge to be handier at home. I certainly canNOT pour a cement pad… but I also don’t really know anything about plumbing or electrical work.

I’ll write this on a piece of paper and add it to my New Years resolution for 2011: Become more handy at home, in order to be more financial secure.

cheap as chips August 7, 2010 at 3:30 pm

Great article. At times, I certainly have an illusion that I can handle a job but end up calling the professionals. The end cost is more expensive, much more!

The other side effect is that if project end up causing some major problems, ie. damage to house structure or damage to neighbor’s driveway or burning your house down due to poor electrical work, you may not be covered by your insurance. Be aware!

Scott Lovingood @ Creating Wealth August 12, 2010 at 7:34 am

My dad (who is 80) has always done his own repairs. He is an excellent handyman but his age is starting to show.

We recently started a project on a very large utility room including removing a garden tub, re-flooring it, new sheetrock, new ceiling tiles, new lighting, new paint and new floor covering.

To date we are in week 6 and not finished. So major projects should always be approached with the understanding that if you do it yourself, you will spend far more time doing it than a professional would.

It is driving my mom nuts too as the room is pretty messy and she loves a neat house. So consider the impact it has on your relationships too.

You can save a lot of money by handling many home repairs on your own. Most of them just require a little knowledge and a lot of confidence. Keep safety first though and understand what you are dealing with.

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