7 Deadly Sins of DIY home improvement

Jan 29, 2013 at 4:00 p.m. ET

Making improvements to your home yourself can save you tons of cash and be extremely rewarding. But these Seven Deadly Sins of DIY can send you straight to homeowner hell.

Upset woman painting home

We all love it when our friends are astounded we did a spectacular job on a project. But sometimes it's best to think twice and cut once... to paraphrase a common DIY mantra.



Sometimes it pays to pay more. If you're buying some products, spending more can ensure you get a product that lasts for years, saves you money on your energy bill or just makes you happier in the long run.

But sometimes our dreams are unrealistic. Do you need to spend $600 on that chandelier you saw in a magazine? Probably not. Look on home improvement sites for lower-cost options that are similar and just as spectacular.



Especially when you've just moved into a new house, it's tempting to want to tackle everything at once. Before you start a lot of home improvements, make sure you answer some important questions.

How long will you be in the house?

If you can't take it with you, it should add value for the average home buyer (or add enough value to your life while you're there) to justify adding it. Otherwise, you may eventually lose money.

Do you have a permit?

You'll cause yourself a big issue when you go to sell if you don't. You can also face legal penalties.

Have you checked the homeowner's association guidelines and local restrictions?

They can ask you to undo all your work for a violation. You may even face fines or other penalties.



Greed can come in two forms. There's the Veruca Salt-style greed where "you want it now!" This usually leads to spending extra cash on things you may not really need. If the "I want it now" mood strikes you, take some time to discuss how it will really fit into your life with your spouse (and even any older children).

There's also the Ebenezer Scrooge-style greed where you try too hard to hold onto your money or get a good deal. This could lead to buying inferior products or things you don't really like — essentially, you're slum-lording yourself just to save a buck, and it may decrease the value of your home when you sell.

Don't fall for the sales trap. You do not need enough hardwood to do your living room three times over.



If you put off necessary home improvements, you'll find yourself in dire straights when procrastination causes other problems, too.

Also, don't cut corners. It can lead to issues later. If you don't feel like doing it right, hire a pro.



Resist the urge to go off the deep end when things don't go as expected. You had no way of knowing the lazy people before you (see Sloth above) had another layer of laminate under the one you were replacing. Take a deep breath and reassess the situation. (Or stand in the appropriate aisle at Home Depot until someone you think is a contractor shows up... They give great advice — and business cards in case you get stuck.)



Love your friend's gorgeous new pedestal sinks? Liking what they have doesn't mean you need it. Before you jump on your smartphone to order them, think about how it would fit into your routine. Maybe you should just invest in some cool new accents to give your existing sinks some extra pizzazz.



Sometimes, you have to know when to ask for help. Maybe you need someone to help you install a fan because you're not quite tall enough to do it without standing on the forbidden last tier of the ladder. There's no shame in needing a man's help (especially when he's 6-foot-5).

But sometimes, you need to hire pros. Faulty wiring, for example, can cause house fires.

If you've never done something before, ask a friend who's a DIY guru to teach you how, or research the how-to sites well. If it seems out of your league, maybe you should hire a pro.

More DIY home-improvement tips

DIY to-do's: Expert tips for your outdoor project
10 Safety tips for amateur DIY home projects
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