You may have heard of the carpenter’s motto “measure twice cut once.” This is the best advice I have received as a builder. I would like to give you some equally good advice along the same lines. That is, to plan out the project, then check your plan, then plan some more.

I remember the first home my wife and I purchased. It was a turn of the century house that had been poorly remodeled several times. One night I was in the kitchen thinking how it would be so much better if a certain wall was gone. Being the young man that I was, I picked up a hammer and tore the wall down that night.

After three long years, we had turned a 5 bedroom, one bath home into a three bedroom, 2 bath home. When we sold it we made a little money and that was the problem. We only made a little money and it took us three years to complete. We lived in construction dust for the entire time. I had a table saw set up in the living room for more than a year. And all of this we did with four kids running around.

My problem was I had no set path or plan. I contemplate that adventure and think how I could have done such a better job in about 40% of the time. If only I have taken the time to plan and have an experienced friend or advisor review my plan; and then plan some more.

Whatever project you are interested in; fixing a hole in drywall, building a shed or building your own home, the key to success is proper planning. Each building project is different but you can have success by following these simple principles.

Give yourself time to research the process. Figure out the depth of knowledge involved and the general “how-to’s” of the project.
Determine the right tools needed for the job. This doesn’t mean you should buy every specialty tool needed for your project. That is where the planning comes in. No one has unlimited income so the goal is to find tools of good value that will still last a long time. Projects can still be completed efficiently and with high quality using a cheaper tools. If none are available, it may make sense to rent the tool instead. Also that might mean you need to pass on a “deal” for a higher priced tool.
Plan your materials. Everyone’s process might be different but I take a piece of paper and build the project by hand. This helps trigger my thought process and I jot down all the materials needed. I generally review this several times and I always add 10-20% for mistakes and waste.
Plan your time and double it. The first time you do a specific project its will usually take you about twice as long as you think. Then if you build the exact same project again it will take you less than half the time the first project took. So find a neighbor who wants the project you want and help him build it. This bit of service will save you time and money.
There are all kinds of things that could go wrong in a building project. The key to minimizing these issues is to plan ahead and build the project in your mind through whatever medium you choose. Remember to measure twice and cut once, always plan out the project ahead of time, then recheck your work, then plan some more.