What to know before doing it yourself

January 25, 2012 2:04:38 PM PST
The long winter months have a lot of homeowners taking stock of home improvement projects.

The lingering recession has people turning themselves into D-I-Yers.

But before you "do it yourself" follow some guidelines before it ends up costing you more in the long run.

The first rule for ambitious do-it-yourselfers - any project involving electricity or gas should also involve a professional.

"We've created tv shows and magazine all about DIY, but a lot of times what people don't realize is there are tricks pros know about these projects that we as novice consumer may not know," Angie Hicks said.

Hicks is the "Angie " behind Angie's List, which is the mammoth word-of-mouth online review site for local service companies in more than 400 categories from contractors to chiropractors.

She hears from thousands of homeowners about real life debacles trying to tackle projects on their own.

"One member sent in photos. They had actually shot themselves through the hand with a nailgun and this was an experienced DIYer," Hicks said.

Before getting into a D-I-Y that turns disastrous Angie recommends asking yourself three questions.

First, do you have the skill level? It's easy to get in over your head quickly if you don't know the basics of carpentry, plumbing or whatever it is you're trying to do.

Start with a small project, with a low skill level and before starting you should also assess.

Second, do you really have the free time to finish a project once you start?

"You know a project that might take a contractor a couple of days to finish might take us a string of weekend to get completed. And then do you have the tools?" she said.

If you don't own the right equipment, buying or renting the right tools is where you face escalating costs way above your budget.

Keep in mind even simple projects can wind up doing major damage.

"One example was the member actually hanging a flat screen tv. A simple project. They got their stud finder out. They thought they found the stud, hung the tv. Months later they found out they had not found the stud, but the water pipe," Angie explained.

You could end up calling in a contractor, and a good place to start is Angie's List or your state consumer affairs website. You can find a reputable licensed contractor to get the job done within your budget on either one.


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