DIY remodeling newbie? How do you start?

Posted by Iris Price ~ December 19, 2014

Some people think DIY remodeling -- do-it-yourself -- is fun. Others think it builds character. Still others just look at TV, youtube, and pictures of completed DIY projects on Pinterest and wonder: What's it like to do that without hiring a professional or buying something already made?

Like camping, if you've never done it, you may envy everyone who does, but until you pitch your tent and sleep in it, you just don't know how much -- or how little -- you like it, do you?

How to begin DIY remodeling

Let's say you've found a project to DIY.

It looks easy enough. If you came across it on the web -- through Pinterest, or one of the many blogs and remodeling websites that feature DIY projects and videos -- it could be a bit like getting the recipe for a dish you like at your favorite restaurant. The chef always leaves out some key ingredient or step. After all, if they gave away all their secrets, you'd never come back for what they're selling.

Be prepared to find out after you're fully engaged in your DIY project that there is a vital piece of information you need that you will have to figure out for yourself. If you're good at solving puzzles or have the mind of an engineer or other creative type, you'll manage, and your project can turn out at least passable, even spectacular. Keep in mind, however, if it's wiring, plumbing, or structural, that's a bit more serious. Seek professional input or involvement.

Tools of the trade

Every project can require specialty equipment and supplies, but here are the basic tools you need for most remodeling jobs:

  • ladders
  • claw hammer
  • demolition bars
  • drill and drill bits
  • selection of pliers
  • tarp and drop cloths
  • heavy duty extension cords
  • duct tape and masking tape
  • measuring tape, straight edge, and level
  • marking implements like Sharpies and pencils
  • shop vacuum, exterior-grade push broom, dust pan
  • safety goggles, dust mask, and/or cartridge respirator
  • electric saws (circular, jigsaw, and reciprocating) and blades

If this is your first foray into DIY, you might want to rent whatever you can until you're sure it's going to become habit-forming.

Expert advice

For those who are willing to take advice from the experts, or who have tried, failed, and want to try again, sign up and attend how-to classes offered by such retailers as The Home Depot, university extension services, or continuing education offered locally. If you're just too embarrassed to admit your lack of expertise, the Internet has plenty of blogs and forums where beginners and seasoned pros alike share their stories, both pitfalls to avoid and best practices to employ. Just google "DIY blog," "DIY remodeling classes," or "DIY remodeling forum."

Take lessons, take your time, and take safety precautions. Soldier on. Even first time campers who forget the insect repellent or can't figure out how to open the tent have been known to go on to have more satisfying adventures. Everyone has to start someplace.

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