Instruction manuals and YouTube step-by-steps can make DIY look so easy that you’d be forgiven for feeling capable of anything from putting up a shelf to remodeling the attic. But remember, YouTube does not an expert make! Sometimes you can be lucky but other times you’re left with a hole in the wall, burst pipes and a severely dented ego. Follow our 10 step guide to avoid DIY home improvement disasters.
1) Call in the big guns
First of all, there are some things you should not attempt yourself. Especially anything to do with electrics and re-wiring, unless you know what you’re doing. If you find yourself saying, ‘I presume this is the right wire’, put it down and back away! Also remember that big panes of glass and heights are not your friends or anyone in your near vicinity. If you live in an apartment and decide to give it a go to try and fix the plumbing problem, think wisely. It’s easier than you think to spring a leak and cause water damage to the apartment below. It may be cheaper in the long run to just call in a plumber.
2) Measure twice, cut once
This should be your mantra while you work. Seems obvious but don’t get complacent as you can’t go back and make a piece of wood or a tile longer but you can shave a piece off if it’s too long.
3) Ask the professionals
Ask questions in your local hardware store. The staff are well trained and know their stuff. We’ve all experienced feeling a tad out of place and clueless when perusing countless aisle of nails, screws and bolts but chances are the staff can point you in the right direction or even suggest a better way of completing your task. Don’t forget to take all your measurements with you to the store so you know what you need, the staff are good but not that good.
A&E’s around the country are full of people who’ve fallen off ladders and injured themselves. The combination of rusty ladders,that are only taken out once every few years, and the carrying of heavy objects up the rungs are a disaster waiting to happen. Make sure the ladder is the right height for your job and that it’s stable. Where possible have someone act as your spotter and hold it steady.
5) After the fact
Not all accidents and disasters happen while you work. Some poor innocent bystander can fall victim to a heavy mirror you installed hours earlier or a shelf full of heavy objects. Usually because the screws were the wrong length for the weight, so just because it stays up at first, doesn’t mean you’ve done it correctly.
6) Cheap tools
It can be tempting to opt for the cheaper tools, as it’s called DIY for a reason, to save money. But there are some tools, like the electric drill, that are the meat-and-potato tools and you cannot afford to scrimp on these. Cheap tools damage walls and surfaces as they are not powerful enough to do the job correctly at the first attempt.
It’s the one DIY task that everybody has tried at least once. Even the the most DIY phobic among us know the difference between a bayonet and screw fitting, but not as many people pay attention to the wattage limit that’s usually beside the socket in your home. If the bulb wattage is too high it could be a potential fire hazard so bear this in mind.
An easy enough DIY job is re-painting the kitchen cabinets. Most people know the best way to do this is to remove all the doors and drawers first, but don’t forget to label or number each one when you take it down so you can put it all back together again easily. Then make sure to properly clean the grease off, sand them down before priming and painting.
Being at the stage where you are choosing plants for your garden is one of the nicer DIY jobs but there are still many things to remember. Opt for plants with lots of foliage and flowers at the bud stage rather than ones fully flowered. Check their root systems and look for any signs of disease too. Being too eager to plant can be a problem, your soil needs a lot of love and attention first before you get to the fun part of planting.
10) Safety first
Take DIY seriously, you are working with dangerous tools in situations that can easily go wrong. A small splinter can do a lot of damage to an eye, or something falling could break your toe. Invest in the proper safety equipment like goggles, helmet (if needed), dust mask, clothes that won’t catch easily and proper shoes. Best of luck!