How many times have you watched a home improvement show and thought, “I can totally do that?” We know we have, but if we’re honest, we know our ambition exceeds our ability when it comes to more complicated projects like installing/refinishing wood floors, installing tile and certain plumbing projects.

Before you decide to tackle a home improvement project on your own, it’s important to be honest about not just your capabilities, but also what your time and the materials will realistically cost. There is an enormous amount of pride and satisfaction knowing every time you look at your beautiful wood floor that you did it, but if it took you three times as long as it would have taken a professional, was that really time well spent?

HouseLogic.com compiled a list of DIY lessons some homeowners wish they’d known before they decided to tackle their projects on their own:

1. No compromise! Instead of the white kitchen of her dreams, Kelly from View Along the Way ended up with a cream-and-brown color scheme that leaves her feeling “meh” instead of “marvelous.” Instead of sticking with what she knew she wanted, she allowed a designer to convince her that white cabinets would not go with a dark wood floor.

2. If you have the room for a little extra elbow room in the shower, take it. Pam Kueber from Retro Renovation went with a 34-inch wide shower stall when she really should have gone with a 36-inch. Kueber also said that had she been aware of the availability of an enameled-covered cast iron shower base, she would have chosen that over the solid surface base she installed.

3. Don’t belabor the point of refinishing a wood floor yourself if renting the sander, buying the sandpaper, and risking damage plus the time it takes to travel the learning curve is going to be as much as or more than hiring a professional. Curbly Publisher Bruno Bornsztein learned that lesson the hard way when he attempted to refinish the wood floor of his enclosed porch.

What DIY lessons have you learned?

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