Five Tips for Home Improvement Success

When toying with the idea of updating your bathroom, modernizing the kitchen or extending the living room, remember that doing the work yourself will be a lot friendlier to your budget. When it comes to electricity and plumbing, it's advisable to contact a professional -- but you can easily do many other tasks yourself. Before starting any project, though, it is important to keep these five tips for home improvement success in mind.

Prepare yourself

Before starting any project, think it through. Acting impulsively where home improvements are concerned is a mistake. You need to weigh the pros and the cons, calculate the materials needed, and figure out how much time and money the project will take.

When the project is clear in your head, put something on paper. Whether it's a plan, a list of materials or a cost quote, it's always a good idea to see the details of home improvements in black and white.

Don't overestimate your skills

Most home improvement projects cost more than anticipated. Little things always pop up that blow your budget out the window. When looking at your budget for a particular project, take extra costs into consideration. If you feel the budget is too tight, it might be better to wait a while before starting.

Don't overestimate your abilities, either. Home improvement success may seem simple on TV or in a book, but doing a project yourself is quite different. Unless you have experience in home improvement, it might be a good idea to enlist the help of a professional or at least a helper with experience.

Be careful who you trust to take on the job. Family and friends may have good intentions but could end up slowing you down. Strangers might be out to make a quick buck. Before hiring anyone, check out their credentials and get what they promise in writing.

Safety measures

We all know that accidents happen, and most accidents happen at home. Protecting yourself means more than keeping your fingers and thumb out of the way when driving a nail into a wall. Protect your eyes with safety glasses; protect your ears with a noise blockers; when doing dusty work, protect your lungs by wearing a mask; and when handling hazardous materials, read the labels.

Keep little hands of the way. Children may get caught up in the excitement and might want to help. Unless you are 100 percent sure that they can make a useful contribution and that you have safety gear for them, send them out of the room.

Protect your house, too. When handling paint or power tools, splatters or debris might end up where you don't want them. Cover floors, carpets and furniture to avoid damage.

Don't cut corners

Trying to save a few dollars may seem like a good idea when grocery shopping, but it's not when you're shopping for home improvement tools. It is always best to choose quality materials. When faced with screwdrivers for $2 and $10, don't even give the $2 tool a second glance. If you need to use expensive electrical power tools and can't afford to buy them, rent or borrow them.

Finish the job

Even before starting a project, you should set a finishing date for yourself. Home improvements are usually messy, and nothing will be more frustrating for you and those around you than living in disarray. Knowing when life will return to normal will help keep your and your family's sanity.

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