4 Tips for Surviving Your First DIY Project as a Couple

how to survive your first diy as a couple

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The house my fiance and I bought together last year isn’t something you’d describe as a “fixer-upper,” but we still had a long list of improvements that we wanted to make to it. After a little research, it appeared that most of the items on our wish list were pretty easy, so we figured How hard could this really be? Of course, we didn’t expect to get a home improvement TV show out of this project–we were simply looking forward to sharing pics of that laminate floor that we laid ourselves and the perfect patio that we created without the pros. We’d probably at least end up Pinterest famous.

In reality, we spent more money and took more trips to Home Depot and Lowe’s in the name of DIY than we ever could have imagined. And while we love our house in part because of the work we’ve put into it, I’d be lying if I said there weren’t times when our old little apartment sounded like a four-star hotel (merging our stuff was so much easier in comparison!). Here’s what I wish I would have known before our DIY project:

1. Read the directions aloud before you get started. Yep, read them out loud together, just like in third grade! I know reading the directions seems obvious, but not everyone does it before starting a project. Worse, some people act like they read them, but in reality only skimmed them. And when you’re in the midst of moving, and are sweaty, dusty and high on paint fumes, the revelation that your partner didn’t read the directions suddenly feels like finding out your partner hasn’t paid taxes in 10 years. (To avoid future meltdowns, I’m going to add a promise to always read the directions into our wedding vows.)

2. Don’t assume your partner knows what he or she is doing. You know the phrase “Fake it till you make it”? Turns out, a lot of people apply this mentality to DIY projects without mentioning to their partner that they actually have no clue what they are doing. (Because faking it is always a good idea in relationships, right?) There were quite a few projects when I assumed that Eric knew what he was doing just because he grabbed the tools confidently…and then discovered the truth when I was struggling to hold up one end of heavy bookshelf we were building or standing in the hill of fire ants where he was–still confidently!–ruining a guest bed with spray paint.

3. Whenever possible, do it together. It’s really easy to split things along stereotypical gender lines or avoid projects you don’t think you can do; this seems like a good idea until one of you goes out of town for a few days and then returns home to a house that is infested with bedbugs and no longer has working plumbing. So do things together so that both of you can learn new skills from the other. If neither of you knows what you’re doing, head to one of the many free classes at home improvement stores or spend an hour watching YouTube videos together. (Forget a fancy dinner out; this is the kind of date night that you’ll find incredibly sexy once you’ve started home improvement projects.)

4. Try not to let your pride get the best of you. Our DIY projects used to take three times as long as they should have because we were bound and determined to do everything ourselves, even when it meant buying tons of new tools or having the finished product look like a second-grade art project. Neither of us wanted to admit defeat, so we kept struggling on because it’s called “DIY,” not DIYWALHFAPWYRYFC (do it yourself with a little help from a professional when you realize you’re freaking clueless), right? But in a lot of cases, it just wasn’t worth it. There can be a lot of ego tied up in DIY home improvement, but there’s no shame in paying a professional to handle it.

Anything to add to my list? Dish below in the comments section!

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