5 Common Do-It-Yourself Mistakes (And How to Avoid Them)

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I Never Read Instructions!

Regardless of how easy a home improvement project may appear, there are always snags. All of us do-it-yourselfers can relate to a story about the time we forgot to connect A to B, knocked over a gallon of paint, or installed shutters upside down. (True story!)

The keys to a successful project are usually the result of things that happen well before you pick up a tool. Forget hulking biceps and years of training: careful planning, patience and an optimistic mindset are all that's needed to successfully complete any project. Take care to avoid falling into the five following traps and you'll be surprised at what you can accomplish.

1) Snubbing Prep Work

You just got back from the store and only thing you can think about is getting that new fantastic color up on the wall. Trust us, we know the feeling. It's natural to get excited about implementing major change, but before you crack open those cans of paint you absolutely need to first do the prep work. Every home improvement project has an element of prep work—from installing a doorknob to replacing a faucet—and neglecting to do it will undoubtedly result in lengthened project time and shoddy work. Not to mention frustration.

Arming yourself with a little bit of forethought will almost guarantee a professional-looking result, especially when it comes to painting. So, don't be afraid to take your time, read the instructions once more, or ask someone for tips. Knowing what to expect will enable you to maintain your sanity when the going gets rough.

2) Biting off More Than You Can Chew

So, you hate your kitchen and can't take it anymore. Take a sledgehammer to it, right? Not so fast. While we definitely endorse change, tackling too much at once is a common mistake that can have grave consequences. You may render a room unusable, dangerous or do major damage in your haste.

If considering a major room overhaul be realistic. You can't expect to churn out a new kitchen by next weekend, so don't even try. Assess what you really need or want done first and start at that point. Home improvement is all about taking things step by step so learn to surrender to the process.

3) Improvisation

Imagine a scene where you are installing a dimmer switch and because you can't find some extra wire caps, you just twist the wires together and shove the unit back into the wall and call it a day. Big mistake!

Improvising can be useful in many situations. In fact, we applaud creativity. But there is a difference between improvisation and carelessness. If you find yourself in a potentially dangerous situation such as the dimmer wire scenario, always err on the side of caution. It will definitely take longer to do projects the right way, but better now than later when you have to do it all over again.

4) Refusing (or Not Asking For) Help

Don't be fooled: doing it yourself doesn't require that you bear the duty of completing every project alone. Many people are either unwilling to relinquish control over their home improvement tasks or afraid they are burdening others by asking for help. If you fall into one of these categories, then there is a lonely DIY road ahead of you.

While certain projects do only require one person, working with someone else is almost always more fun. Plus, remember the adage about two heads working better than one? If you refuse to let people help, get over it. It is less embarrassing to ask a friend to help you out now than to have to call a professional later. If you are too shy, get over that too. Just remember to thank your helper and always return the favor.

5) Embracing a Bad Attitude

Letting negative thoughts dominate your thinking will always result in disaster or an abandoned project. Despite what the little voices in your head say, you can do it. Knowing what lies ahead and being prepared is 95% of the battle and if you have followed our first four steps you are all set to go.

Another note: if you are a DIY novice, start small. Even the tiniest accomplishments will bolster your self confidence and lead to bigger, more complicated projects. Soon you'll be inspiring and sharing your skills with someone else.

If you have been less than impressed with your previous home improvement tasks you may just need to rethink your old habits. It's only normal to become overly excited by the prospect of a new look for your home, or discouraged when you are entering hour four of that faucet replacement. Being prepared, informed and holding fast to a sunny disposition are crucial to getting that job done right the first time.

See also:
Do it Yourself—Or Call a Pro?
Project Greenlight—Get your Mate On Board with Your DIY Dreams
Get Going! 10 Tips for Stopping Procrastination Dead in its Tracks

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