So, you want to become one of those “DIY” people: You want to be the person who fixes their own leaks, remodels and improves their own space, or perhaps even the person who neighbors call in for help on their own repairs. That’s great! Before you get started, though, we have a bit of advice: Mastering the art and science of DIY projects is a lifelong pursuit, but you’ll have a better time if you focus on a few key things from the start:
Read a lot of blogs
You’ll find DIY project guides and tips all over the place, including in books and in the course of conversation with your fellow hobbyists. One of the most powerful resources is a relatively new one: the internet! There are a ton of great DIY blogs and message boards out there, and becoming a regular reader can help you progress toward your DIY dreams a whole lot faster.
Get a mentor
You’re not the only person who loves DIY projects! You can and should network with other DIY hobbyists online and in person. And if you find a kind person who is a bit further along in their DIY journey than you are, then you may have found something important: a mentor!
A mentor can be a huge help. Asking a knowledgeable person to help you with a project in person or answer a few questions over email can help you avoid disastrous mistakes. Plus, this will help you progress with a more naturally rapid pace as a DIY hobbyist.
Know when to hire a professional
Becoming a DIYer means spending some money. You’re sure to mess up a project sooner or later, and fixing mistakes (or hiring someone else to fix them) can be very pricey. Remember to slow down and assess your own skills objectively before starting a project that’s above your DIY weight class.
With that said, you can limit your losses if you make sure that your eyes aren’t bigger than your toolkit. If you’ve never built a deck before and don’t have a mentor around to help, maybe just hire that composite deck installer and focus on something simpler. At the end of the day, you can always learn by watching the professional expert doing the project for you.
Build up your toolkit slowly
Tools can be very, very expensive. As you get started in DIY, you may very well find that some projects actually cost more to do yourself after you factor in the price of the new tools you’ll need to buy.
Fortunately, the tools that you buy for such projects will still be in your toolbox after the project is finished — and you just might be able to use them on your next project. Because of this (and your increasing skill), you’ll be less and less likely to spend more on DIY projects than you would on professionals as your DIY ability progresses.
To maximize your value, focus on projects that use common tools that you’re sure to use again. Build up your arsenal slowly, and focus on quality as you acquire your tools. Pacing yourself will help you stick to your budget while still buying tools that will last for many projects to come.
Know what to rent and what to buy
Even as you build a larger and larger toolkit, there will still be tools that you’ll never have to buy. If you’re using a power washer more than a couple of times a year, for instance, you can feel free to buy one. However, if you’re not, then you’re probably going to be better off renting that sort of equipment.
Remember to do the math each time you come across a project that requires a serious piece of equipment or a pricey power tool. You’ll probably want to invest in certain things. For instance, a pickup truck is a DIY essential in the eyes of many. In cases like this, you’ll want to focus on value and find ways to save money on the pricey purchase. Online truck auctions are a great place to snag a superior deal, and getting good financing rates there will be a big help.
For other projects, renting will be the way to do. When this happens, just get a decent price on the rental and forget about it. As fun as acquiring new equipment can be, it’s not always economical.