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Home Improvement – Know Your Limitations

tool-imageSeveral years ago, I decided to enclose an open space by adding a wall.  It looked pretty basic, and I thought I could do it myself.  I had the studs cut and delivered, along with the drywall, and set about the task.  All went well until the taping and mudding – what a mess!  I soon realized that my new mantra was “Home Improvement – Know Your Limitations!” Now when it comes to Home Improvement projects, I realistically decide what I can do on my own and admit that some work will have to be turned over to someone with acquired skill.  

Home Improvement Tips for Do-it-Yourselfers and Property Managers

When you embark upon an Home Improvement project, there are some basic “rules” to follow:

1.  Do your research.  This might include talking with people at a home improvement retailer, looking through related publications, and, of course an Internet search.  Most DIY projects can be “Googled,” and you will probably find one or more YouTube videos that demonstrate successful completion of the project you are considering.

2.  Remember my mantra:   “home improvement – know your limitations.”  Carefully review all of the steps of the project and separate out those that you know you can do yourself and those for which you will seek help, either from a friend or by employing a craftsman.  In my case, I was able to install the studs and hang the drywall just fine.  I was not able to tape and mud, however, because I had never done it before.  There is no “teacher” better than practice, of course, but a new wall was not the place to practice.  Once I had hired someone to finish the wall, I took the leftover drywall and practiced, so that I could do it myself next time.

3.  It does not make sense to tackle wiring and plumbing projects that are complex (I am NOT talking about replacing light fixtures or garbage disposals or adding a line for an ice maker).  If you have no significant experience in plumbing, for example, watching a YouTube video on installing a new tankless water heater will simply not “cut” it!  If you have major re-wiring to do, get an electrician;  and do not go out and rent a wet saw to cut new counter-top if you have never done it before! 4.  If you are tackling a project you really believe you can do, but one with which you have no experience, consider buying more material than you actually think you will need.  Laying new flooring, for example, will require end cutting, but, as well, cutting pieces around heating/cooling vents.  Realize that you will make mistakes, and you will have to throw out a certain small percentage of your flooring.  And there are always small finishing tasks that may take two or three tries. Allow yourself to be an amateur, at least until you have enough practice.  Over time, you will acquire the do-it-yourself skills to take on more and more of your own projects.  Until then, however, keep repeating, “Home Improvement -know your limitations!”

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