10 tips for handling a household project

When embarking on home maintenance projects, a positive, can-do attitude will save you money, time, frustration — even possibly injury. Bear these points in mind before you begin.

10 tips for handling a household project

1. Household items to have on hand

They surely don't count as tools, but the following household items are key to keeping your abode clean and well-maintained. Gather them up or purchase them now so you're ready for any job later:

  •  Vacuum cleaner
  • Brooms (indoor and outdoor)
  • Mops
  • Sponges
  • Plastic spray bottles
  • Scissors
  • Pencils
  • Wire coat hangers
  • Powerful flashlight (and backup batteries)
  • Bucket
  • Rope
  • Clean rags
  • Whisk broom
  • Steam iron (for such tasks as softening vinyl flooring or reviving a carpet)
  • Scrap wood (remnants and shims)

2. Be upbeat

  • Don't let wrinkles in the plan upset you. Negativity leads to defeatism. Keep your sense of humour even when you're mired in a mess.

3. Be calm

  • Having nervous energy and rushing through a job usually lead to mistakes or injuries.

4. Be prepared

  • Read all instructions carefully. Follow them to the letter.
  • Collect all tools and gear that you need before you embark on your project.

5. Be aware of the details

  • If you're replacing a shingle, you'll want to note how it fits into place. Take a photo or draw a diagram. When you put in the new piece you want it to fit just right.
  • If you're replacing a faucet, for example, notice the order in which the washers, screws and other small parts are assembled and disassembled.

6. Be creative

  • If you don't have the tools or materials called for, find substitutes. If you're replacing a brick, for example, and don't have a brick jointer to shape the fresh mortar, use an ice cream stick or a spoon.
  • In most cases, the world won't come to an end if you don't have just the right tool.

7. Be flexible

  • Sometimes one problem masks another, and you have to stop in the middle of a job to fix the underlying problem.
  • If you're patching a hole in a wall and discover a leaky pipe, fix the leak first, then return to the original job. You'll save yourself a lot of headaches later!

8. Be safe

  •  Most accidents occur when people are tired or in a hurry. Take your time, wear the proper safety equipment, know when to stop and do the job right.

9. Be realistic

  •  Many jobs require more time, money and skill than homeowners plan for. Leave yourself a cushion in all three areas and you'll sidestep a lot of frustration.

10. Finish what you start

  •  As long as the tools and materials are out, finish up. Otherwise you'll be looking at that unpainted window trim a year from now!
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