8 Ways to Prevent Your DIY Project From Becoming a Disaster-IY

Alison Kasch
Written by Alison Kasch
Updated January 7, 2022
couple assembling furniture in home
Photo: Monkey Business / Adobe Stock

Home improvement projects aren’t as easy as they look on TV, so it’s important to do your homework

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There’s nothing better than admiring the result of your own handiwork on a home improvement project. However, not all DIYs have happy endings. Some projects end in disasters like injuries, damage, and unfinished results. That won’t be your fate, though—follow these eight tips to take your DIY project to the finish line.

1. Don’t Dive Into Your First DIY Home Project

While some home improvement projects are fairly simple, others are complex, multi-step processes. Before you bust out the measuring tape, take the time to research your project and desired outcome to ensure it’s within your wheelhouse. Click around online to watch tutorial videos, read up on step-by-step guides, and take notes until you’re confident in what the project entails.

2. Ensure You Have the Proper Tools and Supplies

There’s nothing worse than being in the DIY groove only to discover you’re missing a key tool. Multiple trips to the hardware store are no merry-go-round either. 

To start your project on the right foot, write down everything you’ll need, assess your toolbox, and then head out with a complete shopping list in hand. Many pricier tools are rentable, while the cost of smaller ones can quickly add up, so be sure to budget accordingly.

3. Learn How to Use the Necessary Tools

couple doing home improvement project in the garden
Photo: Robert Kneschke / Adobe Stock

Not knowing how to use your tools can quickly lead to a DIY disaster, whether it’s wasted time, costly damage, or even personal injury. It’s alright if you’re not Bob the Builder, but it’s important to have a basic understanding of each tool’s function and safety hazards before using it. 

For learning how to properly handle your equipment, YouTube comes in the clutch for visual how-tos, while your tools will include detailed instructions for safe and proper use. If possible, try practicing using the tools or equipment before tackling your project.

4. Understand the Safety Risks

Some home improvement projects involve safety hazards, and you don’t want to get surprised by them. Respect the safety risks and make necessary accommodations, such as asking a trusted person for assistance with heavy lifting, purchasing the right safety gear, and recognizing your limits. If you feel nervous or ill-prepared to complete any aspect of your task, you’re better off calling a local handyperson or a general contractor rather than risking your safety.

5. Take a Hard Look at Your Schedule

Before beginning a DIY project, try to gauge exactly how long it will take. Then, take a realistic look at your schedule and decide whether you can fit it in. Rushing can lead to mistakes, emergencies, and small imperfections that will eventually drive you nuts. You might also put things off and get stressed out by the abandoned work-in-progress. Either way, you should ensure that you’re prepared to finish the project before starting it.

6. Ask Yourself: Will I Finish What I Start?

So, you’ve cleared your schedule and researched how to complete your DIY project. Now it’s time for an honest look at yourself, your habits, and your willingness to see the project through. 

Many in-process DIYs leave parts of your home out of commission or take up valuable space in the common areas of your house. If you don’t think you’re able to finish the project on your own, consider hiring a pro to tackle the job for you.

7. Know Which Projects to Leave to a Pro

repairman working on bathroom sink
Photo: Monkey Business / Adobe Stock

Some projects call for a professional with experience and training, regardless of the amount of research you put in. Most plumbing projects are a no-go for DIYs, so it’s best to seek the expertise of a local plumber to get the project done right. 

Electrical work is another project category that usually calls for a pro. There are codes to follow, not to mention a major risk of electrical shock. Don’t risk the potential disaster—call an electrician near you to handle the project. The same rules apply to roofing-related projects that involve ladders. Leave the potentially hazardous projects to the pros to avoid damage to yourself and your home. 

8. Protect Every Surface

Whether it’s a painting project or hanging heavy cabinets above your prized marble countertops, it’s important to protect your surroundings before attempting a DIY project. You’ll never regret taking extra precautions, but you could regret not taking them. Depending on the project, use surface liners, protection boards, or carpet and flooring protection to keep your surfaces safe from damage.

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