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5 Important DIY Tips Every Homeowner Should Know

5 Important DIY Tips Every Homeowner Should Know

Every good homeowner should always be looking for ways to fix and improve his home. Small projects can improve the value of your home, give it a more personal touch, and give you a sense of accomplishment as you look at your improved living space. Even small improvements such as replacing the faucet can make your home look more modern and give it more value.

But for every smart fixer-upper, there is another person who trashes his home and loses thousands of dollars when he is forced to call a repairman to fix his mistakes. If you want to do things yourself, here are some key tips to consider before just jumping into any project that interests you.

1. Over-budget and Over-prepare

You cannot just wing DIY projects and hope for the best. Something is always going to go wrong. It may be that you need additional supplies or that your planned exterior renovations do not look quite right, but if you find yourself caught flatfooted in the middle of a project, it is difficult to either slog on or go back to the way things were.

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So plan, plan, and plan some more. The Wanderlust Kitchen has a great guide on steps which you should be thinking if you intend to completely remodel your home, and notes the importance of making a plan now as well as determining what can be done first and put off until later. Even if your home renovation plans are not that ambitious, always assume that any project will take more time and money than you would think.

2. Get bang for your buck

A lot of homeowners hope that by renovating their home, they may be able to make up the costs by increasing its resale value. But most DIY projects are not going to be able to recoup themselves and treating your home like an investment instead of a home is not a great idea.

Nevertheless, some home improvement projects offer a better return than others. “Green” improvements such as double-paned windows or adding storm doors are very popular as is remodeling your kitchen. By contrast, adding a pool may be enjoyable but are a major turnoff for homeowners who would rather have a yard. If you are looking to improve your home’s value, make sure to do renovations which you know people years from now will value as opposed to something trendy.

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3. Know when to fold them

There are far too many stories when some brave, foolish soul attempts a DIY project because he does not want to shame himself by calling a professional and ruins his house as a result. While you can do some projects yourself if you know what you are doing, do not hesitate to call a professional if you feel intimidated.

In particular, use a professional if you plan on making any changes to your home’s wiring, plumbing, or floors. This especially applies to the first two, as a mistake there can either kill you or see your home destroyed through a broken pipe. But if you intend to embark on a DIY project, do your research and do not start until you feel sure that you are ready to handle things.

4. Vet your handyman

If you intend to use a professional to fix up your home, then you need to hire someone you can trust. If you are careful, you can waste thousands of dollars on a contractor who will do shoddy work if not outright scam you.

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The best way to find a reliable contractor is to ask friends and family if they know anyone who they trusted to fix their homes. This is a strategy I used when looking for custom home builders in Maryland, back in 2008. The contractor my brother had recommended also came well reviewed on Yelp and other review sites, which should be your second source. Once you have a name, call the contractor and ask for a face to face interview before the two of you start working. Do not forget to ask for a reference and discuss in detail what plans he might recommend for your particular renovation and how he might do things differently. An expert opinion should be always welcome.

5. Stick to your decision

You have drawn up the plans for your home renovation, picked a contractor, and started working. But when you are partially finished, you think about other renovations which would make your home look even better and consider switching to another project. Or perhaps you think that there is a better way to do your original project.

Avoid those lines of thinking. There is nothing worse in home renovation than a half-finished project. And if you try to change your project to accommodate your new interests, the end result will be a bizarre amalgamation which will appeal to no one. Make a plan, stick to the plan, and do not get distracted by other potential renovation plans until you are finished with the first project.

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Featured photo credit: Mike Seyfang via flic.kr

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Last Updated on March 13, 2019

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

1. Work on the small tasks.

When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

2. Take a break from your work desk.

Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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3. Upgrade yourself

Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

4. Talk to a friend.

Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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6. Paint a vision to work towards.

If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

7. Read a book (or blog).

The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

8. Have a quick nap.

If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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9. Remember why you are doing this.

Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

10. Find some competition.

Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

11. Go exercise.

Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

12. Take a good break.

Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

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Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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