What no one tells you about those do-it-yourself projects

Wednesday August 11 2021

Get right materials beforehand. PHOTO/Jasmin shreiber/unsplash.com

By Joan Salmon

We have watched ‘before’ and ‘after’ moments of people working on their houses or producing a piece of furniture that amazes them. However, what these shows never bring to light is the work and ‘tears’ that go into doing all this work. In fact, many projects never see the light of day because something went wrong and someone is not willing to correct the mess. Others lose sense of direction because they have been trying to make sense of the process and their mind cannot take it anymore.

Taking the curtains off this newly coveted way of beautifying our homes, we share why do-it-yourself projects, famously christened DIYs, are tricky:

Inadequate materials

 Upon watching a DIY video, one will imagine that they have all the materials listed. However, Adrian Nangosha, a contractor, says when they get down to doing it, they realise they are short. “For example, you might be making a mud scraper and one of the requirements is bottle tops. The thought of 20 bottle tops stashed in a drawer might make you feel equipped. However, given the 500cm by 250cm board you are supposed to use, these might be 50 short. The hunt for some of these requirements is frustrating. In this case, unless you are near a bar; which are closed lately, getting those 50 bottle tops might make you fail to complete the project,” Nangosha says.

Substituting materials

 Many people starting out in the DIY world think they can substitute some requirements for one that works similarly. “For example, if you are required to use a glue gun but think that super glue or office glue will do the job, there might be some disappointments. Super glue might be too harsh, burning through that plastic while office glue might not bind well, yet leaving a smudge. In instances where you choose to get the right tool, in the case of the glue gun, if you have never used it before, you may not know that it works hand-in-hand with other items (rods to produce the glue). That will mean that a one-hour project may take some days to finish, which could frustrate some people,” Nangosha explains.


Cost of materials

 When beginning this journey, you will need to buy a few items such as a glasscutter, glue gun, scissors, and glue. Isaac Kitonsa, a DIY addict, says the investment may seem to outweigh the cost of what you desire to make. “That makes the idea tricky. However, when you continue on this journey, the investment will be worth it. Therefore, the determining factor is if you are willing to take the leap and buy some of the requirements that are usually used in these home improvement projects. Thereafter, it is easier to do as many as you desire without the issue of borrowing or substituting requirements,” he shares.

Final outlook

 Nangosha also points out that one might start and finish well but there could be intricate details at the end of the project such as colour that frustrate them. “If you pick the wrong colour, it will make your outcome look horrible. With that, the labour seems to have gone down the drain. For example, if one is making paper decoration DIYs; you may execute it well but the colour choice will be dowdy in comparison to what you saw in the video thus abandon the project,” he shares.

Technical prowess

 Not all DIY projects are simple as some require technical prowess, the lack of which will fail you. “While you may have mastered the art side of the works, if the technical side is wanting, some projects will fail. For example, if you need to work with a mortar which should be working in reverse movement, making it go forward because you are unaware of the need to change terminals will not give you the desired results,” he explains.

Inadequate tools

 Some tools are not sufficient and Kitonsa points out the glasscutter. “There are various glasscutters but the basic ones available in our hardware store cannot cut a wine glass. Therefore, if one has a project that entails cutting a wine bottle, they may have to invest in one that is more costly which spells increased costs and one may abandon the project,” he says.


Some DIY projects are tricky because they require a keen eye, patience and double-checking. “For example, if you are looking at plants where you need a bottle to work as a planter, you need to rinse it before putting in water and then the plant to allow for propagation. However, if you are not keen to ensure you wash out all the detergent used to clean the bottle, rather than develop roots, the plant will wither. Yet if you had been keen and double-checked, the results would have been better,” Nangosha explains.


However, all that negativity will not deter people from doing these projects because they find them interesting and, sometimes, even addictive. Here is why:

The joy of making something beautiful with one’s own hands and with a few products is what spurs many DIY -oriented persons on despite the frustrations. “Ultimately, when the final product comes out as expected, especially as you have seen it in the video, it is very rewarding. We usually get into these projects because we are looking for something, say a wall hanging that is unique and suits our needs,” Lameck Mulwana, a DIY fanatic shares.

The cost of the DIY outcome is sometimes 10 times less than what you would incur were you to buy it from a store. “When it pans out, the joy is undeniable and keeps me coming back to try something else,” Mulwana shares.

Seeing that you can do something you have always wanted to do yet did not have the knowledge makes it all worth it. “Being able to do what seemed impossible in a few steps gets my adrenaline up and gives me the drive to try it out,” Nangosha shares.

Why it is inevitable

Many hands-on people love doing things and if there is a little guidance here and there to achieve their goal, Mulwana says they will not hesitate to do a DIY project. “It is also fun and keeps them busy. You could call it a challenge that keeps their minds at work,” he smiles.

For others, Kitonsa says it is the fact that it is a way around something else that would be costly or hard to get. “DIYs prove to be a quick fix that will allow us get what we need with less hustle,” he says.

Quality of tools

 Sometimes, people fail to achieve what they have seen on a DIY video, which could be due to tool quality differences. “Inasmuch as you may use office glue as directed, if the quality is not as good as the one used in the video, the results will not tally. That happens a lot because of varying product qualities which is frustrating, leaving your labour to fall apart in no time,” Kitonsa explains.