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DIY Done Wrong – The Biggest Mistakes

There’s a certain type of lifestyle TV show that goes a long way towards convincing an accountant who has never picked up a hammer in his life that he’s a Do It Yourself genius, who is fully capable of repairing his own roof before quickly building six new dining room chairs. These TV shows make it look so easy! A personable host chats to the camera as they casually and nimbly assemble a perfect looking garden bench. It’s all so quick and easy that of course you think, “I can do that!” Of course sometimes, we overestimate our abilities, and that DIY project quickly becomes a total DIY disaster. What are some of the most common mistakes, and how do we avoid them?

Have You Got the Right Tools for the Job?

Most of us keep a hammer and a variety of screwdrivers around the house, but before embarking on any DIY project, ensure that you have all the necessary tools that will get the job done. A must have for any kind of interior project is to use a wire and pipe detector, because even hammering in a hook to hang a picture can have disastrous results if you hammer through a pipe. It’s going to take a heck of a lot of DIY to fix that water damage!

Don’t Trust Yourself with Everything

It can be all too easy to “think” the job will be completed as you’ve imagined. You trust your own judgement, and that shelf sure looked straight when you put it up! However, this thought won’t make you feel any better when your expensive glassware slides off and shatters on the floor. There are some things that the human eye is not capable of, and while a seasoned carpenter can be rather accurate at guessing measurements, for those of us who are less gifted, always use a leveling tool and a measuring tape, and double check all measurements. As the old saying goes: measure twice, cut once!

Your Home Isn’t Always Your Castle

If you’re the ambitious type, you may even be able to do one of the ultimate DIY projects: an extension to your home; or a new shed or garage. This is not for an amateur to consider, since there’s real danger to you and your loved ones  (and your possessions) if the project isn’t done properly. After all, you don’t want your new garage to collapse on top of your car! Major additions to your home can alter your home insurance rates, so always make sure your policy reflects any changes to your property. It’s also very important to make sure you’re actually allowed to build your ambitious project, because it would be horrible to proudly finish a magnificent new shed, only to receive a letter from the city pointing out that you didn’t have permission to build, and so all your hard work will have to be torn down.

There are a lot of easy DIY projects that most of us can do quite well with a bit of effort, but be wary of those shows that make it look amazingly easy- after all, you shouldn’t believe everything you see on TV.

This is a guest post.

Lisa Peteres is a freelance writer and DIY enthusiast – feel free to drop her a comment if you have any questions about the topics she’s writing about.

11 Comments

  • Mer

    Very helpful! I’ve definitely had some major DIY fails (usually crafty, so at least the only danger is if someone sees the hideous project I’ve created!) when something that looks so easy on pinterest turns out very wrong. It’s so important to really do your research and be realistic about your skill level.

  • Larisa Kudisheva

    I think right about anything will look easy and effortless when you see a professional do it and I am not talking just about TV shows.

  • md kennedy

    Oh, I SO agree! My husband INSISTED on doing our new bathroom himself – which three weeks into the project was still not even close to being finished. We ended up paying more than we would have o finish it because the contractor we brought in had to start all over. DIY-er beware!

  • Sandy Cain

    Thanks, there’s a lot of useful info here. I am too embarrassed to share the DIY disasters I’ve perpetrated – this is my new mantra” MEASURE TWICE, CUT ONCE!

  • Jennifer Ali

    Very helpful and a lot of interesting information that I’ll definitely be using! Thank you for all the info..

  • Karen H in NC

    Good information for the weekend warriors. I don’t do things myself anymore…I am happy to find a handyman to do the work for me!

  • Maria Iemma

    I am afraid I am not a DIY person since I am a klutz and can never see myself building or fixing anything. It is a good thing my older son is handy!

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