According to the contractors we contacted, the biggest mistake homeowners make when doing their own projects was entering a project without the knowledge to complete it properly. No matter what kind of project we discussed, our contacts had no problem telling us that the DIY mistakes they saw could generally have been avoided by doing more research and getting a little practice before beginning the job. It's not that homeowners shouldn't attempt their own projects, it's that they often underestimate the knowledge and skill required to get professional results.
Tips for Installing Drywall
Mud issues topped the list when Jerry Henley at JC Drywall in Olathe, Kansas was asked about the most common DIY drywall mistakes. Drywall "no-no's" you should be aware of include: "Using a fiberglass tape and not using a quick-set mud?Not using an all-purpose mud when taping joints?[and] not getting enough mud behind the tape to eliminate blisters." Jerry also let us know that in several of the flubbed drywall projects he's seen the homeowner was, "Using too small of a knife; [he or she] should use a 10-inch knife when filling and finishing."
Landscaping Tips for DIYs
Matt Hughes of Natural Care Inc. in Albany, New York told us that some of the biggest mistakes he sees "time after time" involve DIY weed control and fertilizing. "?They over-fertilize their lawn or do not overlap patterns correctly and their lawns look zebra-striped." Matt also points out that "pruning trees at the wrong time of year" is a common problem in his area, and leaves apple or pear trees literally fruitless in the fall. Once again, these problems could have been avoided with a little research or some advice from a professional.
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DIY Painting Tips
Probably the most common DIY project, painting is also one of the most frequently fraught with mistakes. Dave Tingle of Tingle Painting in Orient, Ohio tells us that, "? since most do-it-yourselfers are painting in their spare time, they tend to hurry. Taking the necessary time is important." Speeding through this type of project can lead to many problems like drips, inadequate coverage, and, of course, a job that looks shoddy.
In addition to "having the proper tools" (something that many DIY painters lack in a big way), Dave has also noticed that homeowners doing their own interiors also tend to get less than professional results because they try to paint around the elements of a room instead of moving them out of the way. "People try to paint without messing up their homes. They need to realize that if they are going to paint a bedroom today, that room is going to be shifted around and disorganized a bit. There is no way around it."
The Bottom Line
The fact is, professionals have the time, materials, equipment, and experience to do a job quickly and effectively. Homeowners doing their own projects begin at a disadvantage because they are often lacking in one or more of these areas. DIY jobs are often set back even more because homeowners do not account for this disparity and expect their projects to be completed just as quickly as a professional can do it. This leads to cutting corners, which in turn leads to less than professional results. If you are planning a DIY project, it is in your best interests to take your time and be realistic about your goals. You might not be as fast as the pros, but with the proper planning and the right preparation, you can produce great results, too!