As a part of my project-planning build-up, I research my idea to death. My degree is in Sociology (a very research-heavy field), so I get sort of a twisted enjoyment out of searching out information, comparing sources and methods, and divising my own conclusions about the subject at hand. This is no more true than when dealing with my home renovations.
And while the internet is obviously one of the quickest, easiest, and most expansive research tools there is, you have to proceed with caution. Just because a website says adding to existing plumbing is as easy as 1-2-3, doesn’t mean really anything without the experience to back it up.
So here are a few tips on properly researching your next DIY project:
1. Check your information
Is the site you’re looking at a well-respected site (like the one you’re reading here)? Or is it just a Yahoo Questions page where any Joe Schmo can throw in their five cents? Make sure that when you’re pulling from the Internet that some sort of expert or tradesperson is at least consulted on the project you’re looking at.
2. Reference multiple sources
Just because one source says all you need is a caulk gun and a flat-head screwdriver doesn’t mean it’s the gospel. Cross-reference multiple trusted sites to see if that’s actually the general consenus on the proper method, or if in your vain hope of a simple project you end up MacGuyvering something that’ll end up costing you more time and money to fix than it should have.
3. Don’t forget the library!
In our digital age, it’s easy to forget sometimes that there are these concrete places, full of books of information that you can borrow for free for a limited time. It’s kind of fantastic. You can get all kinds of verified resources (including those fancy DIY books they sell at the big box retailers) to peruse at your leisure — and if you’re lucky, those books will have pictures and possibly even directions on how to tackle your project properly.
4. Talk to a real person
Not sure if you can handle your project on your own? See if you can get a licensed professional to give you a free consultation. Make sure you do your research first, though, just so you don’t get taken as a novice. After hearing how a pro would do it, and what it might entail, you’ll be able to make a better decision on how to go about your idea.
5. Attend a workshop or beginner’s class
Many home improvement stores offer weekend classes handling basic DIY projects, and sometimes they’re even free. Or check with your local library or community center to see if they offer any kind of workshop. Giving it a go in a supervised setting, or at least being shown the basics involved in your project should help you when it comes time to get your hands dirty — or it’ll illustrate that perhaps your heart’s desire is best left to a pro with more experience.
After looking at those plumbing books above to figure out how hard it would be to add a master bathroom to our existing plumbing, I found that what I want to do is possible, but probably far beyond my skill set. So before I started hacking into pipes, I took the time to make sure I wasn’t getting in over my head, saving myself and my family a whole lot of heartache and money in the meantime.
What about you — how do you prep for your big DIY project? Any pointers you could share in the comments?