Home improvement can be a bit of a pain, a pain in the neck and a pain in the checkbook. It typically involves long hours, patience, and a good amount of money. If this wasn't enough, home improving your house is also often wrought with mistakes, mistakes that can cause longer hours, more patience, and even more money. For this reason, it's important to avoid as many mistakes as you can, and improve your chances at a pleasurable home improvement experience.


Don't Buy Cheap Materials: Inexpensive materials may seem like a great idea (why buy limber for a hundred dollars when you can get it for fifty dollars), but home improvement is one area where the mantra "you get what you pay for" holds very true. It's easy for others (neighbors, friends, and potential home buyers) to notice when someone has tried to beat the system by applying only one layer of paint, placing new linoleum over existing tile, or using duct tape instead of a decent adhesive. Instead of buying cheap materials, splurge on expensive ones: there is no point in engaging in home improvement if it's not actually going to improve your home.


Don't Forget to Make a Plan: You might have the urge to dive right in, thinking that home improvement is just a long name for home improv. But, engaging in any form of home improvement without a plan is like going on road trip without directions. Avoid frustration and potential mistakes by preparing a written plan ahead of time. Make sure your plan reflects that certain things will take longer than you think, certain things must be done in order (such as sanding a deck before you can seal it) and that certain things must be given adequate time to set and dry. It's also a good idea to include some flexibility in your plan: remember that in home improvement some things can suddenly come up, such as the floor.


Don't Interview Just one Contractor: Contractors are like mechanics: some are honest and some are greasy. For these reasons, it's important that you audition several contractors for the job at hand. Make sure the contractor you hire has a good reputation, a license and proof of insurance – don't be afraid to ask for actual documentation. And, if you are having a hard time finding a contractor you trust (if every one you've interviewed reminds you of a politician) ask for a referral from people you know. Your friends, your family, or the butcher at your local market may all know of a great contractor. Take your time in hiring help: it's better to be safe than scammed.


Don't Do Things Yourself that You Can't Do Yourself: Home improvement, for some people, is a time when pride comes out: it gives self-proclaimed handyman a chance to prove their handiness. For this reason, people often tackle jobs for which they aren't really qualified. If you know nothing about installing a sink, don't install one yourself: hire a plumber. If you know nothing about pre-wiring a ceiling fan, consult an electrician. If your legs shake each time you climb a ladder, have someone else fix the roof. Don't put yourself or the quality of your home improvement at risk by being too prideful to ask for help: hire a contractor, then just tell everyone that you did it yourself.


Home improvement can surely test your patience. Everything seems a little more expensive, turns out to be a little harder to do, and takes a little longer to fix than you thought. But, in the end, you might just find that it was well worth it: your home improvement may just lead to much more home enjoyment.