How to Take on a DIY Project as a Couple Without Killing Each Other


If you’ve never done a DIY project with your significant other, I’m sure the title of this post seems over-exaggerated and made you laugh. If you have, you may have let out a sarcastic “Ha!” and muttered “For real” under your breath.

My husband and I are DIYers. We have been for years. We have big ideas but small budgets, so we turn to the internet, HGTV, and the various men and women who work at our local home improvement stores to help talk us through our possibilities. We’ve laid laminate flooring, erected a shed, installed 2 tile patios, and built a half bathroom (with the help of a licensed plumber – sometimes you can’t do it all yourself), to name a few projects we’ve conquered, and we recently painted our kitchen cabinets. My husband and I make a good team, but we’ve also had lots of practice to get to that point. We’re both still alive, and we both still love each other. No easy feat.

Here is a list of tips to reference the next time you and your significant other decide to tackle a new project.

1. Make sure the project is actually a do-it-yourself project. Unless you’re an HVAC specialist, you probably shouldn’t try to install your own central air conditioning in your home. There are just too many variables to consider with a project like that, and one mistake could cost you thousands of dollars or even your home if it’s not wired correctly. Know your limitations. Do your research. Google the project and “DIY” to see what comes up. If there are lots of entries, chances are it’s doable.

2. Read up and take note of the similarities with each entry you read. If 15 out of 16 people did steps 1-4 a certain way, chances are you should make sure you do them that way too. Don’t cut corners on the important stuff. Find entries from professionals and note if their steps coincide with the DIYer’s entries you’ve found. Look at before and afters.

3. Make a list of everything you need. I mean everything, down to drop cloths, newspaper, paper towels, and tape. Gather all needed materials together and check them against your list. Only start when you have everything you need.

4. Have a plan. Have all of your steps handy. Talk through it with the other person doing the project with you. Don’t start until you both agree on what you’re doing from start to finish. Write it down if you have to. Note both what needs to be done, step-by-step, and by whom each step is going to be done. This is important. Before you start, understand each person’s strengths and weaknesses, and plan accordingly. During this last project, I did the taping, roller work, measuring, lists, and research. These are my strong points. My husband did the cut work, setup, removal of all hardware, and building because he’s good at that kind of stuff. We both cleaned. We planned out when two steps could be accomplished at the same time by two different people so time was not wasted.

5. Give each other space. Any steps that can be done when not in the same, small area are gold. It’s easy to get under each other’s skin, so having away time is a good thing. When you do have to work in the same area, talk through what each of you are doing so the other knows what to expect.

6. Everybody cleanup. When everything is done, you’re still not done. There are still things to put away. Don’t leave it around. It’ll just aggravate you to see paint tape still sitting on top of the microwave four days after the project is complete. Put everything back where it belongs so you’ll know where to find it for the next project.

7. Enjoy it together. Use the space you’ve just improved upon as soon as you can. That’s your payoff after putting in all that hard work. Talk to each other about the outcome and give the other a pat on the back for all they did to make it happen. A compliment goes a long way.

Here’s a little before and after action of our cabinet makeover. The kitchen is still a work-in-progress, so I’ll make sure to post the end result sometime soon!



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