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Home improvement projects are rarely inexpensive. If you're good with your hands, it can be tempting to tackle the job yourself. But for every DIY-success story there is a project-that-ends-in-disaster story. And when something goes wrong, it can go wrong quite spectacularly and expensively.
That's not to say that you should never attempt any DIY. But it's certainly sensible to approach any project with a clear head and to weigh up whether it would be better to hire an expert instead.
So before you fetch your toolbox from the basement, check the following five points to avoid starting something you might wind up regretting:
Plan the Project Properly: As a rule of thumb, you should spend as much time planning your project as you do actually carrying it out. For anything but the smallest of jobs, draw up a detailed plan, including measurements and materials. Leaving a job unfinished because you've run out of time or supplies is a surefire way of producing a shoddy final result.
Also, making a thorough plan could lead to surprising results about how much work is actually involved in the project. It's much better to realize this before you start.
Be Well Equipped: Home improvement professionals spend a fortune on their tools, and there's a good reason for this. Using low-quality or unsuitable tools not only makes the job longer and more difficult, but it can also pose serious safety risks. Never be tempted to improvise with your tools unless you're experienced.
Check the Legal Issues: Putting up a few shelves isn't likely to attract the attention of the authorities, but you may be surprised at which kinds of work require permission or regulation. Typically, you'll need permits for any work requiring construction, and any project that could impact the public is usually regulated. For example, your property's external features may belong to you, but you'll still need to make sure they don't pose a risk to neighbors or the public walking by.
Pay Attention to Safety: Never take any shortcuts where safety is concerned, like climbing wobbly ladders or inexpertly dabbling with electrical wiring. Experienced professionals have seen the terrible things that can happen around power tools and construction sites—and that's why they are serious about safety. Before you begin work, identify any possible safety issues and deal with them before going any further.
Know Your Limitations: You may be an expert at carpentry, for example, but that doesn't mean you can tackle metal or brickwork after a quick search on the web. By all means, try new techniques around things you're familiar with, but also be realistic about your abilities.
Doing it yourself is a great way to save money, and it can also be satisfying and fun. However, it pays to consider your options carefully if you want to avoid disaster. Sometimes hiring an expert really is the best choice, even if it costs a little more.