There may be a DIY home improvement project you’ve been aching to do for a while, or you may have been spending these cold months inside binge-watching home renovation shows on TV and now are all full of ideas and fired up to do something new.
Before you tackle anything, take a look at these DIY home improvement tips on what to do and what not to do.
1. Make Your Wish List
Actually, make two lists. One list of the things that you should do, and one list of the things that you want to do. Shoulds would include anything that involves safety concerns or could fall under the heading of indoor or outdoor home maintenance.
Wants would include, well, the things that are more fun, and more along the lines of upgrading or redecorating. So you don’t go off in all directions, put the important shoulds first, and then prioritize the rest.
No matter how much money you have, you want to put it where it will count. And even if you’re not thinking of selling your house in the near future, do keep resale value in mind; some things are worth a big investment and some aren’t.
Most real estate experts agree that these are some home improvements that will and won’t add to the value of your home:
DO upgrade your kitchen. Whether it’s buying new energy-saving appliances, installing solid surface countertops, or redesigning cabinets and workspaces to be more efficient, sprucing up the heart of your home is a good investment.
DO upgrade your bathrooms. Apart from looking good, new toilets are water efficient. If a tub or sink has seen better days, re-glazing will have it looking fresh and new again.
DO go green. Consider the environment when selecting materials. If you’re replacing windows or sliding doors, install double-paned glass that helps to insulate both from cold and from heat.
DON’T replace carpeting anywhere but bedrooms. Wood flooring is more durable, easier to clean, allergen-free, and at the top of the list for most home-buyers. Even engineered wood can last up to 100 years.
DON’T blindly follow trends when you’re making permanent improvements. Things like vessel sinks (the kind that looks like salad bowls on top of the counter), granite or marble for every flat surface, sliding barn doors inside a house… you get the picture.
Whatever it is, if you’ve been seeing it everywhere for the past few years, it already is or is going to be outdated before you know it. Save the of-the-moment stuff for decorative objects you can easily switch out when the mood passes.
3. Assess Your DIY Skills
If you or your partner in crime has never held a power tool or a pipe wrench, tackling a large-scale DIY home improvement project is not the way to start. No matter how many home improvement shows you’ve watched, don’t be seduced into thinking everything they’ve made look easy really is.
It’s their job to make you believe you can re-tile a shower in half a day. Don’t fall for it.
In particular, most things involving electricity, gas, and plumbing are not for amateurs. Neither is roofing, hanging garage doors, or trimming big trees. Not only will have that kind of work done by professionals be safer for your house and for your own life and limb, but it will also save you money in the long run.
While you’re thinking about your skills, think about your time, too. If you’ve got a lot of other demands on your hours, don’t plan a project that will overwhelm you. If you start something you can’t finish in a reasonable amount of time, it’s going to begin feeling like a prison sentence. And surely don’t start two or more big DIY home improvement projects simultaneously.
4. Study Up
Brush up on methods and materials with home, garden, and lawn care tips and videos you can find online. Depending on the extent of the project, it might be worth the time to take a workshop at your local home improvement store or see if a nearby community college offers a course.
5. Do the Quick Fixes First
You’ve probably got a few fixes you’ve been putting off because they seem almost too easy or you’ve just gotten used to them. But once you get those done, they won’t be hanging over your head anymore and you’ll be energized and ready for more.