Skip to main content
May 21, 2018 | home-renovations

Can-Do DIY: 12 Tips for a Successful Home Improvement Project

The do-it-yourself market is huge these days, as people across the world seek the cost savings and sense of personal satisfaction that comes with finishing a home improvement project.

Statistica projects spending on such DIY projects will hit a global $43.7 billion next year, a 45 percent jump since 2002. CNBC attributes that growth in residential real estate prices and turnover as the positive upswing in jobs and wages. Others point to the popularity of DIY home improvement shows on HGTV and other TV channels, and the availability of user-friendly tutorials on Pinterest and YouTube.

That said, there are few statistics on the number of such projects that go horribly wrong.

“Nobody really thinks about all the mistakes that could happen,” writes real estate broker Elizabeth Weintraub on “(But) every home improvement project or fixer rehab has its ups and downs. One crucial trick: You may learn from your own mistakes, but it’s better to learn from the mistakes of others.”

Consider how the following suggestions can maximize your chances of a smooth-sailing DIY project:

  1. Don’t Get Too Ambitious: Overestimating your skills and ability could be disastrous. Give serious thought to what your projected task entails, the toll it could take on your body and whether your time is worth investing. Regardless of cost savings, you may be better off hiring a professional.
  2. Beef Up Your Budget: There’s nothing worse than tearing your house up, only to face delays because you ran out of money, perhaps because of unexpected issues that weren’t immediately apparent. As a rule of thumb, reserve an extra 30 percent of your budgeted amount for unanticipated costs and assume you’ll have to waste 15 percent of your materials.
  3. Take Care of Red Tape: The need for a city remodeling permit may not make sense to you, but failing to secure one may lead to a fine and/or eventual difficulty in selling your house. In some cases, violators have been required to undo impermissible renovations.
  4. Sketch Out a Schedule: You don’t have to adhere to this perfectly, but it will help you use your time to optimal advantage by anticipating delays due to requirements such as drying or curing time. It should also help you plan for when you’ll need assistance by friends, family members or contractors.
  5. Buy Quality Materials: Sometimes good deals are just that. In other cases, low prices mean inferior or flawed products. Try to negotiate favorable prices on name-brand merchandise rather than opting for bargain-basement goods that may backfire during the installation.
  6. Overbuy Materials: No one wants to waste money, but running out of matching materials can dramatically slow your schedule and/or force you to work around slightly different colors or patterns. Instead, experts recommend adding 20 percent to your initial estimates, then returning as much as possible if the materials go unused.
  7. Start with Decent Tools: Conduct a little research here on which ones are worth the investment, then prepare yourself with a full range of tools so you don’t need to run back to the store. You can always return any you don’t use.
  8. Protect Yourself: Don’t be pound foolish when it comes to investing in safety glasses, gloves, knee pads and any other gear aimed at protecting your body. Only use chemicals in well-ventilated areas, and always turn off the main breaker when working with or around electricity.
  9. Walk it Through: Before fully installing any new fixture or materials, run through a simulation to ensure it will work for its intended use. Home improvement lore is rife with stories of projects gone wrong that range from poorly planned electric outlet locations to overly low shower spigots to doors that open the wrong way.
  10. Measure Twice, Cut Once: The old adage is still true, especially if you’re new to power tools or are tackling complex cuts, angles, mitered corners, etc.
  11. Guard Against Falls: Rooftop falls are one major hazard, but each year some 300 people in the U.S. die and 164,000 are injured in falls from ladders — the top cause of death on construction sites. Follow cautionary labels and don’t balance precariously when using them.
  12. Use Measuring Guidelines: When hanging wall art, how many times have you measured and nailed, only to find the positioning is still off? Simplify the process by optimizing painter’s tape for marking level points, and/or mark the picture hooks with a little toothpaste to illustrate the optimal spot for your nails to go.

If you take time to prepare instead of just starting your DIY project on a whim one weekend, you’re bound to have a better chance of success. And cost won’t necessarily be your only advantage.

“There are also many hidden benefits,” notes David Galloway on “Transferable skills, inspiring your children to try projects and the self-reliance that makes you less apt to panic when things do go wrong.”

Talk to the Personal Bankers at Amplify Credit Union at 512-874-7171 about securing a realistic budget for your next home improvement project.

Ready for your next home improvement project?

Get Started