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Architectural Detail Experts | A Blog by Worthington Millwork

5 Common Mistakes with DIY House Projects (and How to Avoid Them)

Posted by Worthington Millwork on 2/26/19 6:00 AM

08e853b9-c681-41f0-9fdc-a7f3b0768407-upload-68BF600B-278D-4270-88FD-5CEE53A6569AMany house projects are pretty straightforward and can be handled by competent do-it-yourselfers. Some homeowners need to take Dirty Harry's advice: "A man's got to know his limitations." However, for those inclined to press on with their house projects, here is a list of common mistakes with DIY house projects and how to avoid them.


Inadequate Safety

Accidents and injuries are pretty common among professional contractors, but the risks increase when tools and equipment are in the hands of amateurs. Though you might not prevent them entirely, you can limit the risk as well as limit their impact. Here's how: 

  • Read instructions and instruction manuals and follow proper procedures when using tools, materials and finishes.
  • Wear the proper clothing and protective gear at all times. Especially avoid clothing with loose ends and improper footwear. Always use properly designed safety glasses, gloves and other protective equipment.
  • Have first aid on hand and know how to use it.
  • Be sure to have a cell phone or other means of contacting emergency help if necessary.
  • Make sure you have adequate health and homeowner's coverage to offset any accidents or injuries that might occur.



Keep in mind that just because you have successfully completed some DIY house projects in the past does not mean that you have become an expert. The point of doing your own house projects is to save money. In some cases, and with some specific tasks, hiring a professional is actually the best way to save money in the end. Rather than being overconfident in your abilities, get someone who knows what they are doing to help you, take a training class or admit to your limitations and hire a pro.


Poor Planning

There are plenty of ill consequences, which raise their ugly heads whenever you fail to properly plan for a remodeling or renovation project. Most carpenters tell you to measure twice and cut once. That applies to planning your project too. Here are some consequences of poor planning and how to avoid them: 

  • Poor cost estimates. Be sure double and triple check your numbers to come up with the most accurate cost estimate possible.
  • Citations and fines for working without the proper permits. Know the local city, county and home owners' association codes before you start work and secure the proper permits for your project.
  • Unexpected surprises in demolition walls. If you are not 100 percent sure what is inside or behind that wall, as well as how you are going to deal with it, you better leave it alone. You can cause significant damage, which can cost a bundle to repair if you tear something up during demolition.
  • Waiting for materials and equipment to arrive after you have started. Never have necessary materials or equipment on back order or assume that they will arrive in time before you start your project. Order early and have it all ready before you get started.


Inadequate Preparation

Failure to prepare properly is an extension of poor planning, but deals more directly with project execution. Here are some common preparation mistakes and ways to prevent them: 

  • Failure to prepare a proper construction path. Floor, wall, ceiling, furniture and fixture damage from bringing equipment and materials into your house can add plenty of unexpected costs to your DIY house project. Remove or cover all furnishings in and near the work area, prepare the most direct path to where you will be working by installing protective covering on finished surfaces.
  • Isolate the work area. Do your best to seal off the work area so that dust and debris doesn't get spread all over your house.
  • Inadequate job of surface preparation before installation. Some of the best examples of this are poor taping or lack of it for painting, uneven floor surface for wood or ceramic tile installation, and insufficient blocking for fixture installations. Take your time to do things right before rushing into installation.
  • Not reading and following installation instructions. The easiest way to avoid this is to read the instructions, even if you know what you're doing.


Charging Ahead

Stubborn pride is what charging ahead is all about. There are times when things do not fit right or are not working properly. By charging ahead and forcing it to work, you risk creating damage that will cost you a bundle when you have to calling a professional to fix the problem. If something is not working, admit that you can't get it to work instead of forcing it. Get some professional advice or allow someone who knows what they're doing to help you straighten it out. Pros often know certain tips or tricks that aren't common knowledge. You'll save money by getting help, and you might learn something new in the process.


A DIY house project is meant to save money and provide you with the satisfaction that you were able to do it yourself. If you keep safety first, accurately evaluate your skill level, plan and prepare properly and know when to get some assistance from an expert, you can avoid some of the most common mistakes of DIY house projects.

Topics: Home Restoration, Millwork, remodel

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