Many new homeowners and first time buyers have something in common when it comes to DIY projects. They are anxious to get started making the home their own and bite off more than they should at one time. First putting in a little planning and thought brings many benefits. Planning gets you organized so that you can minimize disruption to your daily household routine by not tearing apart both the bathroom and kitchen at the same time in an exuberant burst of energy to make the home your own. Planning should include budgeting so that you have a realistic understanding of what you can accomplish in a given amount of time. Altogether, everyone will be happier in the home while projects are underway and you’ll achieve your dream home without ending up with a divorce.
- Get organized. Create a 3-ring binder or file drawer divided into sections for each project you plan to start. In our digitized world, these projects still require paperwork. Get project dividers, a paper hole punch, stapler, and pouch to put loose receipts in. By organizing for the paperwork upfront, you’re more likely to stay organized as you go along.
- Get to know your new home. At least unpack all of your moving boxes and get everything put where it belongs before diving into DIY projects. Digging into attics and closets might reveal projects needing early attention or give you ideas about projects you hadn’t yet considered. Also, you might find repairs that are covered by a home warranty that came with the purchase. Try living in the home for a full year before tackling big projects. You might change your mind about what you really want to do.
- Make a list of projects you want to accomplish. Include big and small projects. Once you prioritize the list, draw up plans for large projects. Next, make a list of materials and tools you need for each project. Take the list to your home center to get a firm idea of what each project is going to cost. Also, generously estimate the amount of time each project is going to take. This information might change your mind about how to prioritize the project list.
- Over budget. Even with a firm estimate for materials and tools from the home center, budget more money than the estimate. Adding 10 to 20 percent is a good rule of thumb. Plan for incidentals not on the list. This could be buying a few meals out when you’re too tired from working on a project to cook for yourself. Or it could be to replace the lamp you broke bring the ladder into the house. There will be unplanned incidental costs.
- Start small. Don’t make the first project knocking out a wall to open up the space between the formal dining room and living room or tearing out your only bathroom. Start by checking furnace filters or hooking up the automatic icemaker in the refrigerator. Move on to changing out permanent light fixtures if that is part of your plan. Get into the crawlspaces, under the stairs, and into other areas not normally visible to see if the previous owner did any work that you need to be aware of.
- Finish one project before starting the next. Once you’re comfortable living in the house and have finalized you project list, don’t be afraid to jump into a bigger project. Read books or study online videos if you’re not sure you have all the skills needed for a particular project. However, don’t be afraid to get started even if you’re not 100 percent confident. Sometimes the biggest hurdle to a project is getting started. If you get in over your head, you can always call in a pro. Once you start, finish the project before moving on to the next. Finish it right down to the last brush stoke of paint. Otherwise an unfinished project can linger for years and only serve to discourage you from tackling the next project.
- Ask neighbors about pros. Unless you’re in the home construction trade, you’ll come across projects that are beyond you capability such as adding an addition. These are projects that you should put off for a year or more. Take the time to get to know your neighbors. Learn which ones have used local contractors in the past and get recommendations about who is most qualified to take on the bigger projects.
DIY projects will turn your new home into the dream home you envisioned when you bought it. You’ll get the best results when you have a step-by-step plan and follow it.
Please leave a comment about your own DIY projects and experiences or if you have questions/comments about this article.
Author bio: Brian Kline has been investing in real estate for more than 35 years and writing about real estate investing for 10 years. He also draws upon 30 plus years of business experience including 12 years as a manager at Boeing Aircraft Company. Brian currently lives at Lake Cushman, Washington. A vacation destination, a few short miles from a national forest. With the Pacific Ocean a couple of miles in the opposite direction.