Home Improvement Projects - Time Management

Things you need to know:

Home Improvement - paint roller

Handling your own home improvement projects seems like a good way of saving money and keeping control of the project from start to finish. However, before you embark on your home improvement project, there are some things you need to know.

Home improvement projects: the time management problem

Parkinson's Law says that “work expands to fill the time available ", but that's actually a rather rosy view of how most home improvement projects turn out. In reality, your do-it-yourself work will take up all the time you have and then some. When you're planning your project, you need to be brutally honest, perhaps even pessimistic, about the amount of time you need. Assume that each task will not be as easy as you expect and will take you at least double the time you think it will. Even if you don't believe this, allow double the time anyway.

When you're planning time management, don't just think about the time the project will take; think about the time you're prepared to give. It's not realistic to plan two hours of home improvement work every evening as well as eight hours a day at the weekend. If you and your partner are both working full-time, you will need the evenings and some time at the weekend to recharge your batteries.

You should also consider the blocks of time you're devoting to home improvement projects. Give up large chunks of time once a week rather than smaller, daily chunks. This goes against the advice you're given when studying, but home improvements are not like studying. It will take you a certain amount of "dead time" just to find the equipment you need, put down dustsheets and prepare for the task, so small chunks of time are less effective. Having said that, don't try to work for too long without stopping. Take a break every couple of hours to keep morale high.

Home improvement projects: do-it-yourself perils

One of the problems with doing a home improvement project yourself is that you may not have the necessary skills for the task, and even the most talented learner will have difficulty picking up a practical skill from books. You need to know before you start that misreading the diagrams in Plumbing for Beginners might mean that you flood one of the rooms in your house. Doing potentially dangerous projects, such as working with electricity, is an even worse idea if you're untrained. It's not worth compromising your safety just to save cash.

Another advantage of using a professional is that you have some comeback if things go wrong. Contractors are bound by state law to deliver a certain standard of work, and your contract with them is a document you can produce in a court of law. You should also get a written estimate on work and an agreement on how to deal with any overspend. This means that you're more likely to get compensation if a shoddy job causes problems and less likely to end up in court if the project ends up costing far more than expected. If you did a bad job yourself, or didn't manage your own budget properly, you have to pick up the pieces yourself.

Home improvement projects: the dreaded nine-tenths

Nine-tenths is an important proportion in human experience, and it's one that finds its way into many famous sayings and concepts. For example, some scientists believe that nine-tenths of our brainpower is untapped. And we've all been told that " possession is nine-tenths of the law ". It's also an important proportion in the world of home improvement projects. Nine-tenths is roughly the amount of your project you'll get done before life gets in the way. Despite your bet intentions it's easy to just loose steam so be prepared to find that last tenth more difficult to achieve than the rest of the project.

However, if you're aware of all the pitfalls and you still want to go ahead and do your own home improvement project, you've made a brave decision. Forewarned is forearmed, so knowledge of all the potential problems will stop you feeling overwhelmed once the project is underway. But that doesn't mean the project will be any easier to finish.


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