First-time homeowners are notoriously known for their overzealous and costly choices when it comes to Do-It-Yourself jobs around the house to personalize and make their new house a home. Even though some DIY projects give homeowners the satisfaction in knowing that they added value to their homes, there are costly mistakes new and not-so-new homeowners can avoid. Like many home enthusiasts, when I bought my own house, I had a list of things to add, upgrade, and just do. I learned a lot along the way and below are a few things to share to help you:
1. Allow a Professional to do Very Professional Jobs
Okay, so maybe I was a little over the top with this DIY project, but I had really believed that I could do it alone! This task was to clear an area of brushes that was about 12 feet long and 5 feet wide behind my house to increase usable yard space. I promise you, it looked like a piece of cake, but it took me about six days for it to look somewhat finished. It felt good, but I should also tell you that I did this in early spring while the weather still resembled that of winter, so I am sure many gardening experts knew what happened next. The “excavation” job that I had done had grew back within a few weeks once the spring rains and warmer weather arrived.
I should have called a professional to remove the brush. This was one DIY project that I could not complete. In fact, I had never seen or researched how to clear land, but I thought it wouldn’t be hard to pull plants out of the ground! I had never been so wrong. Although this wasn’t a very costly lesson, it was time-consuming and physically demanding.
2. Pay for Landscaping and Continue Upkeep Yourself
A landscaper planted select breeds of day lilies in my front yard and after about a month of success, I had asked he’d do the same to the back and he did. When I offered to pay him to come back every two weeks, he gave me a great tip. He simply told me that people should only hire a landscaper to plant the flowers and design the yard but they could save money by taking the time to learn and keep up with their own yards. He showed me how to take care of the plants in my flower garden and what to do forward. This saved me about $80 a month.
3. Research and Prepare Soil Before Gardening
I thought that because I had seen Grandma gardening successfully, that I knew how to garden. I promise that I had no idea that I needed to prepare the soil ahead of time in order for the plants to be successful. I had missed so many steps in actually planting a garden, that I eventually I had to begin researching the process. That cost me to wait another year to start my garden that I was so eager about.
4. Check HOA Covenant Laws Before Building and Adding Anything in Your Backyard!
Heaven forbid you have an idea to make your backyard stand out from your neighbors while living in a neighborhood policed by the HOA to whom you pay your dues to monthly! Lord knows if you buy an umbrella too big to add to your patio to cool down on hot summer days, that the HOA police will come hunting you down like they did me. To make it short, please look at your HOA by-laws before being creative! Every neighborhood is different. What may look good at a friend’s house may not be allowed at yours.
Of course, I had watched enough of HGTV to believe in my head that I could do any DIY project if I just put my mind and back into it. DIYers and viewers need to keep in mind that those shows are professionally edited to fit into 30 minute or one hour segments. Now that I am a little more realistic and experienced, I know which projects I can handle and what to expect as well keeping the HOA police off of my back!