Are DIY Projects great fun or the pathway to disaster?

What is DIY?

Do It Yourself or DIY is the latest craze for making or repairing anything and everything.  DIY projects are a set of instructions, guidelines, steps, tasks, and so on,  for anything you want to do.  We are always looking to save time and money, and being able to do it yourself will let us get it done faster and cheaper.  From crafts and home improvement, to baking a cake, wiring your house and re-doing your plumbing, there are DIY projects readily available for just about anything.   Go ahead and Google it, you’ll see what I mean.

DIY Projects Opportunities are Everywhere

Last summer my townhouse condo in Canada needed the front decks painted and we couldn’t find a painting company that could do it before the Fall.  I’m on the Board and tried to help by going around to the paint shops asking them if they knew any available painters.  One shop told me that I should do it myself.  He said it was easy as pie.  “Just slap that paint on with a brush and Bob’s your Uncle,” he told me.  I did just that, and our condo decks looks amazing.  But best of all, it was done when we wanted it done, and at a fraction of the cost.

A friend just sent me a DIY video on how to change a flat tire.  It only took me a few seconds into the video to see a major problem.  They made it look so easy to take the spare out of the truck by easily unscrewing the bolt holding the tire in place.  No way!  My tire is in so tight I need a strong set of hands to unscrew it.  I didn’t even watch the rest of the video!

How do I know a if DIY Project is right for me?

There are 6 questions to ask yourself before you begin any DIY project.  Honestly answering these questions will help you decide which DIY project is right for you, which will definitely help make your DIY project a success.

  1.  Is this something you really want to do?  A Yes should be your quick response.  It’s something you want to do, something you want to use or have in your home.  Something you’ll enjoying making and having.  If you answered no, then you really need to reconsider this project.  If it’s something you don’t really want, then why do it?  There are other ways to pass the time that are much easier.
  2. Are the instructions reasonable and easy to follow?  Have a look over the instructions.  Make sure you can access them, especially it they involve multiple files, possibly some videos.  And then briefly review them to see if they are easy to follow, logical and easily understood.  If they are complicated or present you with file open challenges, you need to think about doing another project.  If you haven’t even begun and the instructions are not extremely clear and accessible, your project will not be successful.  It is possible that the project hasn’t been properly tested to make sure it works.
  3. Are you comfortable with both the estimated time and cost of the project?  All DIY projects provide estimates for time and cost.  Often they will include timeframes for both the experienced and inexperienced.  You have to take heed of these estimates, and understand that they could be very generous, meaning it could take you 20+% longer.  If you expected a weekend project, are you okay with it spanning 2 weekends?  Costing is a similar consideration.  Where you buy the materials may be more expensive than what was costed.  As well, the items, could be fragile and break during your build and need replacement.  You may have to bend something and it cracks.  Or you may have to mix a few things together in a specific order and you mistakenly reverse the order.  Also you may find you want a different colour or texture, or possibly a more expensive finish.  All of this has to be taken into account when you consider your comfort level for cost and time.  If you are not comfortable with these estimates, this project is not for you.
  4. Will you be able to perform the tasks?  Video makes it all look so easy showing that in 3 minutes, you can make a widget, and in 5 minutes, you can make a double sided, standing one.  But do you need specific tools, specific skills?  Are you strong enough to do the tasks?  Do you need special protection, magnified eye-sight, superb balancing, or maybe the ability to be bent or hunched over for a long period of time?  The steps in the project may be easy to follow, but if you can’t as easily perform them, the project should be scrapped.
  5. Do you have the space to do the project?  Some DIY projects require a large amount of space for things to be assembled, to dry, or even to lay out all the components.  Make sure you have a location where you can do the project without having to accommodate other things going on.  If you are using your kitchen, will you be able to make your meals and not disturb the project?  Trying to build something in a confined space may be extremely challenging and impact your ability to do it properly.
  6. Will you be okay with a ‘wonky’ looking finished item?  Once you are finished the project you could end up with an item that isn’t perfect.  This is a serious consideration that shouldn’t be taken lightly.  If you end up heading to the Mall to buy the item, the DIY project was not successful.  If you are a perfectionist, or only like quality, you need to be truthful when you answer this question. Your closet or store room shouldn’t be the end result of your project.

If you answered ‘No’ to any of these questions you should seriously reconsider this project.  If you answered ‘No’ to 2 or more questions, this DIY project is really not for you, it is a pathway to disaster.

There are so many DIY Projects to pick from, even for making the same thing, that you will never be at a loss for a project.  Do some more research and find a DIY project that passes the ‘Yes Test’.

On the other hand, if you answered a resounding Yes, to all 6 questions, you should definitely do it.  This does not guarantee that the project will be successful, but it does mean that there is a good chance it will be.

Check out the Sixty and Me YouTube Channel for a huge assortment of projects to pick from.

It’s all good!

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This article was first published, in July 2016, on the Sixty and Me Website.  Click this link to go to the Sixty and Me publication of my article.

It’s all good!



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