When it comes to home improvement jobs our motto is: Jump Right In! Surprisingly, there are very few things that you can't do yourself when it comes to fixing up your home. While mistakes will happen, you'll learn in the process. The worse case scenario will be that you'll have to call a professional to finish the job.
When considering a particular project, the best thing to do first is research. For starters, you can ask Jane, surf the Web or hit the library. Browse our archives and search our articles for tips on the specific project you're about to embark upon. Friends can be a great source for information for tips on how to do the job. A few key words of advice can easily save you hours of labor and frustration. As intimidating as it may be, don't be afraid to ask questions at the store! Most people who work at home improvement stores love to talk their trade.
Before embarking on a task ask yourself: Does something about this job scare me? Would my fear of the job limit my ability to do this myself? Work within your limits. If you are afraid of heights, don't make yourself get up on a ladder. There is no shame in bringing in a professional if you are too nervous about tackling a project that scares you.
However, don't be afraid to challenge yourself just a little. Are you scared of hurting yourself or are you scared you will mess something up? There's a big difference there!
You would be surprised what you are capable of! DIY novices should not start on complicated structural, electrical, or plumbing problems anyway, so start small.
We're all about doing it yourself to build your confidence. It's an evolutionary process and it builds upon itself. Once you master a drill, an entire host of new projects are within your grasp. It won't be long before you are taking on more challenging projects. Where you are in your path to do-it-yourself mastery is your own business. It's not a race or competition!
Think of it this way: there are few jobs to which you can truly do major damage to your home. The bottom line is, any project is ultimately within your grasp; it's just a matter of time before you can take it on. Remember the Chinese proverb: The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.
We think that it's incredibly fun and empowering to do a project yourself. Though it may take more time than hiring a professional, when it's finished you have the satisfaction of admiring the fruit of your labor and thinking, I did that!
If you decide to take on the project yourself, be realistic about how much time you have and how you prefer to use it. Would you rather spend your time improving your home or spend your money to have someone else to do it?
Be forewarned, however: the amount of time estimate the job will likely double or triple. This doesn't mean you are doing anything wrong! It's better not to start a project with a deadline in mind. For instance, don't count on redoing the guest room floor with company set to arrive in a week. Allow for flexibility. Many people ultimately call a contractor because they are short on time and patience, not skills.
Don't be too hard on yourself if you do mess up. (And we all have; just ask any Jane) Chalk it up to experience and keep your sense of humor. Your misadventures in flooring may make for a great story someday. If anything, you will learn from your mistakes and be able to help your friend when she does the same project at her place.
No matter what your budget, it is always cheaper to do a project yourself. A quick search on the Web can tell you how much materials and tools will be. Then, get a couple of quotes from contractors to see what the difference in cost would be between doing it yourself and having it done by a professional. This way, you can pinpoint the exact price differential. If you are comfortable with said task, it may be worth it to do it yourself.
If the project is broad and very complicated, the extra money may be worth having someone else to do it. If this is the case, see how much prep work you can do for the contractor before the start date. This will enable you to learn a thing or two before the big job gets underway.
If you do decide to go pro, ask your friends and neighbors about contractors they have worked with in the past. Word of mouth is always the best resource for finding qualified people. If your friends don't know of anyone, hit those chat rooms, message boards, etc. Angieslist.com, a subscription service, lists and ranks plumbers, electricians, roofers, contractors, etc. It constantly updates ratings by people who have used services in your area. If you have ever had the unfortunate experience of working with a bad contractor, you know how crucial this rating system can be.
Other questions to ask: is the contractor licensed in your state? Bonded? Insured? Ask to see examples of his or her work and contact information for clients. Reputable contractors will be happy to supply them. Lastly, if you get an uneasy feeling about a contractor, heed it; your intuition is always worth listening to.
We believe that taking on projects at home is one of the best ways to spend your time and money. The confidence you will gain from completing your first successful project will be addictive. Who knows? You may even develop a new hobby, or perhaps even a slight obsession for doing things yourself.