Completing a home project DIY-style sounds great on paper, but it’s always best to know what you’re getting into prior to starting. Luckily, we have an in-house DIY expert right here at the Coldwell Banker home office, Mr. Jimmy Hammel. While by day Jimmy focuses on digital marketing, you’d think he is a full time contractor if you talk to him about everything he does outside of work. I asked him to spill his top tips for DIY-ing a home project; here’s what he had to say.
1. Don’t believe everything you see on TV.
Who doesn’t love a great TV show where they take a house that’s in shambles and turn it into a masterpiece? Now don’t get me wrong — I am NOT saying this can’t be done. But for the average person, what you see on TV cannot be done in the amount of time that they claim; there is a lot going on behind the scenes that you aren’t being shown. You don’t see the 30-person team that works around the clock. You’re probably an average Joe like me, who is working at night after their regular day job and on the weekends. It is 100 percent OK that it takes you a bit longer to put in a brand new kitchen or to finish that bathroom. Why, you ask? Because there is no better feeling than when someone walks into your home and says, “I love that!” and you get to respond with, “Thanks, I built it myself!”
2. Time… Never Enough Time.
We all know the phrase, “there is not enough time in a day.” For me this could not be more true. There’s nothing worse than when you’re feeling like the most productive person alive, dedicated to the task, nothing can stop you… to then pick up that to-do list and realize NOTHING you just did was on there. Why? Because you didn’t plan for all of the other things that needed to be done before you could do what you actually set out to do. Then of course, there’s Murphy’s Law, which almost always plays a part when it comes to home renovation or a DIY project. Trust me when I say this, it has caught me a couple times. Most recently was when I told my wife that we could demo the bathroom in 3 hours. Let’s just say, I was REALLY wrong and she was a little upset. At some point there is a chance that something is going to go wrong and when it does, it can crush your timeline (along with your plans for the rest of the day). So when planning your next project, do yourself a favor: add in some extra time. This way, when something goes wrong, you can fix it, finish that project and still have time to take your wife out to dinner.
3. Tools, I Love Tools.
Ever wonder why Home Depot, Lowes, and Sears have so many tools? I can tell you why. It’s because they literally make a tool for every job. All my life my dad has been telling me to “work smarter and not harder.” As I have gotten older, you know what this means? It means my wife hates going to these stores because there is always a new tool that I want to buy. I love tools more than Tim Allen in Home Improvement. I know that I am going to come across a job and need a specific tool in order to complete it. When you don’t have it, it can take forever to get that one extremely simple part of the project completed, just because you don’t have the tool you need. If you are going to be doing a decent amount of work or DIY projects on your home, I suggest you invest in those tools you will need. These include, but are not limited to, a hammer, drill, level etc. If you are as lucky as I am, you can “borrow” (and by borrow I mean steal) more expensive tools like a miter saw or a table saw from your dad (thanks, Dad).
4. Know your skills.
Whether you are doing your first project in your new home, or you’ve been moving walls, plumbing and electrical for years like I have, you need to know your skill set. Don’t take on a project because “they did it on TV.” Make sure you at least have a decent idea of what you want to accomplish and the steps that you would need to take to get it done. The last thing you want to do is take on a huge project, like trying to remove a load bearing wall, to realize that there is plumbing and electrical behind the sheet rock that have no idea what to do with. Knowing your limitation can be the difference between taking on a project and enjoying the process and overall outcome, versus, taking on a project that ends in aggravation and large bills to make up for your lack of experience. On the flip side, don’t be afraid to take on a project like tiling your backsplash just because you have never tiled before. You may be surprised at the skills that you have acquired and carried over from doing other projects. And always remember: measure twice, cut once.
After growing up doing home DIY projects my entire life (proof is below), I have learned a lot. The most important thing to know is that asking for help is the best thing you can do. Whether you need an extra set of hands or you need a second opinion…JUST ASK. It took me a while to learn this but has paid off dividends ever since. Just ask my wife, who has helped demo and has removed all the wall paper in the our home, or my best friend, who has help me lift a 300 pound beam into place, or most of all, my dad, who has answered my countless phone calls; not being afraid to ask for help has assisted in the completion of all my home DIY projects.