Planning DIY Projects

Posted on Aug 31 2012 - 7:22pm by Tim Eyre


Whether you are settling into a new home, planning to move or just doing a little routine maintenance, planning is key to successful DIY projects. Taking an hour or two to select your projects and budget the time and money for them can remove a lot of stress.

Here are some tips for making DIY plans. . .and sticking to them:

Choose and Prioritize Your Project(s)

The most obvious step in choosing a DIY project is taking a look around your house and yard. Make a list of things that need repair, replacing or improving.  If you are unsure about what needs to be done, consider hiring a professional home inspector. He or she can point out problems that you might not be able to detect on your own.  The American Society of Home Inspectors can refer you to a home inspector in your area.

If you identify many different projects, it can be hard to prioritize them. Here are some ideas for deciding which to tackle first:

  • Consider Compliance: Make sure your property complies with all state and local building codes as well as homeowner association rules.  Failure to comply with these rules/laws can cost you a lot of money in fines.

Hint: Review the codes and rules for your area once or twice a year, ideally around the time(s) that you normally plan your home repairs.

  • Consider the season: If you expect a significant climate change with each new season, prioritize projects that protect your home and keep you comfortable.

Example: If you live in an area where it rains or snows a lot in the winter, move roof-related projects to the top of your list

  • Consider Finances:  Some DIY repairs can save you a lot of money. If finances are a concern, prioritize repairs that will cut your costs.

Example: If you think that your home’s air leaks are driving up your utility bills, do some DIY air leak sealing right away.

  • Consider Aesthetics: The appearance of your home matters to you, your guests and your neighbors. It also matters to potential homebuyers, so if you are thinking of selling, get some advice from your real estate agent for sprucing up the interior or exterior of your home.

Example: If your puce-colored living room walls are giving you fits, paint them, already!


Figure Your Budget and Go Shopping

Once you’ve got a list of projects, do some research on costs. Print out or copy instructions and supply lists for your projects and start pricing the cost of materials. Do your comparisons online, but also have a look at the advertising circulars in your Sunday newspaper to find out if there are any local sales going on.

Hint: Unsure about doing a particular DIY project? Get a few estimates from professionals.  If things don’t go as planned, you may have to call in a pro to finish a job or correct your mistakes. By knowing what the job costs, you are in a better position to decide whether you want to take on the project yourself or let someone else do it.


Get to Work

More than a few people have a basement or garage full of paint, tools and other supplies purchased for DIY projects that were never completed. To keep this from happening, schedule your shopping trip so that you can get to work as soon as you return home. If you start while you are still excited about the project and have just made an investment in it, you are more likely to finish the job

Hint: Do a work exchange. Call your friend and offer to work on their DIY projects in exchange for help with yours. Working together is fun, shortens the job and keeps you motivated.

What are your best tips for doing DIY work around your home?


Tim Eyre