Tips for doing DIY home projects alone

DIY jobs aren’t easy, but they can be especially tricky to do alone.

Many DIY success stories involve couples clubbing together, but if you’re living alone the project can take twice as long.

There are also more things to consider when you’re doing the work solo – from safety considerations to smarter forward planning.

These are some ways to make the work easier – which can be incredibly rewarding once complete:

Plan your finances

If the budget is entirely down to you, get clear on it before you begin.

Mandy St John Davey, a DIY expert, says: ‘Firstly, make a list of all the tools and materials you will need for the job and get them to hand before you start the project. 

‘Many common mistakes and DIY disasters are down to having incorrect tools for the job at hand. 

‘Always have a contingency fund to fall back on as many projects can go over budget if they are not properly managed. 

‘Consider that materials have increased considerably since Brexit and the pandemic.’

Figure out where you’ll need help

Emma Downer, a DIY expert who has experience working solo, tells us planning ahead is key.

She says: ‘Plan ahead for jobs that are tricky for one person to do, for example if you are putting up plasterboard on a ceiling – that is large and heavy and will need two people to do it safely.

‘You can do helper days with your friends where you help them for a few hours on something they need and vice versa this way you can get all the two person jobs done at once and you feel good about helping a friend with something they are stuck on.’

She suggests joining DIY Facebook groups you can post questions in if you ever need a second eye – that way you have a community at your finger tips.

Safety first

You shouldn’t roll your eyes at this one.

Emma says: ‘If you are doing anything that poses any danger let someone know what you are up to so they can check in on you periodically – we get hurt when we least expect it.’

There are simple way to maximise your safety on smaller jobs too.

Mandy says: ‘Always wear the correct gear when working on DIY projects. 

‘For example, don’t use flip flops or slippers to work in. 

‘Ensure if you are sanding or breaking up any compound to wear safety glasses/googles.  

‘A mask should also be considered if you are spraying anything that is harmful or has an odour hazard. Ensure you are working in well ventilated areas.’

Other no-nos include climbing furniture if something is out of reach – which may be tempting if you’re working alone.

‘Don’t take chances balancing or overreaching,’ Mandy adds.

Accept your limits

DIY when done alone will take longer – and it’s okay to do a project slowly or enlist help.

Emma says: ‘It’s totally normal if things take a while to do when there is just one person, keep cracking on at your own pace and the job will eventually get done.

‘If there is a job that you find especially tricky or boring, consider contracting these ones out to keep up your spirits, DIY is supposed to be fun and it’s okay to decide not to do some jobs that you don’t like or take you a long time to do.’

Mandy also says it’s important to be realistic and not overestimate your skill – it will only compromise your safety and the quality of the result.

She adds: ‘I would strongly advise to get a qualified trade for anything electrical or gas and never be attempted to just “dabble” with these services. 

‘Many home fires and explosions have occurred with simple arching of wires or incorrectly installed cookers, hobs and boilers.’

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