It’s that time of year again when the weekends are overtaken with home improvement projects, and from landscaping projects to major interior changes, my wife Amy and I have tackled many of the most difficult projects. In light of that – here are some of the lessons we’ve learned from our eight years of renovations.
1) Measure twice, cut once.
It’s a simple idea that’s hundreds of years old perhaps, but the saying applies today. Not only will this principle save you money and last-minute trips to the lumber yard, it will keep your pride intact as well.
I’m often embarrassed after I’ve completed a DIY project that I’ve taken so little care to do the project correctly. Not only do I usually need to do all the work twice, I waste a lot of time making trips back to the store and having my ability as a carpenter called into question.
I’ve seen a lot of DIY projects that other people have attempted that look pretty bad, too. Here’s a tip: When done right, DIY projects should be indistinguishable from a professional’s work.
2) Scrape and prime, let dry, then paint.
Last year, I scraped and painted our garage and it looked good for about 3 months and then it started peeling and chipping everywhere. Now, less than one year later, I’m doing it all over again. I wanted to get it done and out of the way, and my careless attitude ensured that I would repeat the process every year until I learned.
I’m not a big fan of painting, so this year I vowed to do it right (oil primer and all) and hopefully, with any luck, I won’t be doing it again for some time.
3) There are some things better left to the professionals.
I like the idea of picking up a book and learning a new skill. However, I realize I can’t be great at everything. Some things I will never try: a furnace, adding a skylight, tree removal, animal infestations, or building fences (again).
Building fences seems easy enough – and that’s part of the trouble. My wife and I decided to inexpensively fence in the backyard for our pugs after they continuously tried to sneak out of the front door and run down the street after vehicles. Not only is digging holes hard work, finding time around long commutes and long work hours is nearly impossible. Oh, and throw in the fact that you have a natural gas line running through your yard… That makes strategically placing fence posts a nightmare. A few of the posts aren’t exactly level because we couldn’t bury them as deep as we’d of liked. While this wire utility fence is functional, it detracts from our house and isn’t aesthetically pleasing.
(I just can’t win, can I?)
4) Rewiring your garage or shed isn’t smart, unless you are an electrician.
According to the National Fire Protection Association, about 50,000 home fires occur each year as a result of electrical failures. Besides that danger, you often won’t get a second chance with electricity.
In the words of the author Edward Abbey, “Power is always dangerous. Power attracts the worst and corrupts the best.”
Despite the fact he was talking about a different kind of power than I am, I believe the advice applies here as well. Hire a professional in this instance especially if you’re thinking of rewiring your own home.
Whenever you’re in doubt in regard to your DIY ability level, experience and available time, bite the bullet and call a professional! You may be glad you did!