Fixer-uppers are DIY projects by nature. Elegant mid-century homes require plenty of TLC; even once-new homes require maintenance and upgrades over time. No matter which type of property your home may be, you likely feel a sense of accomplishment and even pride when you tackle and complete a repair, upgrade, or full section of a renovation.

The key to successful DIY is threefold: research, preparation, and follow-through. The kiss of death? Eyeballing a project, assuming you have the knowledge and technique figured out just by doing so, and diving straight in. The results will range from catastrophic (in the case of water or structural damage) to merely ugly (like an eyesore wall patch.)

The cost of repairing a catastrophic outcome will be far greater than the cost of hiring a professional to do the job in the first place, so proceed with caution.

Invest in Good Tools

You don’t need a garage full of the best tools on the market, but don’t skimp out on the quality or quantity of tools required to finish your work. When tools break before the job is completed, or you have to make another run to the hardware store to pick up additional tools you thought you could do without, you’re adding time and frustration to the process.

Safety Materials

Keep yourself safe with gloves, eye protection goggles, respirator masks, heavy-duty knee pads, and coveralls. These items are just as necessary as owning a hammer and screwdriver, and the stakes are much higher. Your fingers, joints, eyes, lungs, and skin are the most valuable assets you’ll bring to any task! They cannot be replaced, so treat them with care.

Purchase the Ladder You Need, and Review Ladder Safety

The International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI) reports that each year, there are "more than 164,000 emergency room-treated injuries and 300 deaths in the U.S. that are caused by falls from ladders." Furthermore, "Falls from ladders are the leading cause of deaths on construction sites, and "The number of people who have died from falls from ladders has tripled" in the last decade.

You might imagine that these falls were from second-story windows, rooftops, or unsteady tree limbs. It’s even worse: “Most ladder deaths are from falls of 10 feet or less.”

We strongly recommend that all homeowners
visit the InterNACHI website for ladder safety instructions. You must know your ladder’s weight limit, use it properly, and carefully check placement each time you set it up. Stay safe, stay alive.

Clear and Prep Your Workspace

Any item left in your workspace runs the risk of getting dusty or damaged. Move anything you don’t want to replace or deep-clean far away from your planned work zone.  

The rest of your preparation will depend on the type of work you have planned. The key is to take every recommendation for preparation seriously; don’t skip steps, even tedious ones like sanding, stripping, and deep cleaning.

Measure Twice, Cut Once

With the cost of lumber these days, this old advice is just as important as ever. Measure very carefully the first time, then just as carefully the second time. Ask your trusted friend, spouse, or adult child to provide a second opinion if you can.

If you’re new to power tools, or you have to make cuts at particularly complex angles, you may prefer to measure three times! With practice, you’ll become more confident in your ability to measure twice and cut once. Take your time, give yourself grace to make mistakes, and keep at it.

Buy Backup Materials

Take this advice from the professionals: always buy more materials than your project should require. You’re going to make mistakes; some materials may break (like tiles), and some materials may be faulty from the jump.

Rather than putting your project on hold for days or weeks while you wait for more materials to arrive, not to mention having to pay for shipping twice, help Future You by buying backup materials. The rule of thumb is to add 20% to your project's required amount of materials.

Keep the extras well-organized in your garage, and you’ll be prepared to do repairs next time a small area needs some TLC.

Test Your Plan

Before you get to cutting and drilling, take a look at the spot you’re working on. Make sure that your plans will fit, can easily be used as planned, and suit the height of various family members. An easy example is new kitchen or bathroom fixtures: just because you’re placing them where the old fixtures were doesn’t mean they’ll integrate seamlessly. Check for full functionality before you spend an afternoon installing new items.

Check Your Sources

As much as we love TikTok, YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram, they may not be the best sources for DIY tutorials. The main thing is to make sure the recommendations aren’t quirky click-bait or that the person giving the advice isn’t just an opinionated DIY-er. Look for experienced professionals who are offering advice to make your life easier rather than relying on accounts designed for self-promotion.

The Takeaway

DIY work is a great way to make your home uniquely yours and can mean you’re able to keep your property in tip-top shape year-round. With the proper research, preparation, and safety precautions, there is no reason you can’t enjoy working on your home for many years to come.

Do you have a harrowing DIY story, word to the wise, or favorite educational resource to share? Please leave us a comment!

As always, thank you for spending a few moments with us. Happy DIY-ing!

Posted by Parks Real Estate on


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