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DO-IT-YOURSELF

Best-Laid Plans Lead to Well-Executed Projects

August 10, 1996|From Associated Press

You'll save time, money and a lot of frustration if you think a project through and plan each step before beginning.

For almost any undertaking, you'll benefit by putting your plans on paper. A good set of plans lets you see what tools you'll need and aids in estimating the amount and cost of materials. It also helps you see the complexity of the entire job, so that you can decide whether you'll need professional help.

When planning a large project, break it down into a series of small, manageable projects. This allows you to make timely purchases, organize your time and spot any work that requires a professional.

Begin by making a sketch or diagram of the project. It needn't be elaborate or artistic--simply clear enough to illustrate what you mean to do, showing all the parts and indicating the materials you plan to use. You can make simple outlines of the parts and use heavy dots or X's for the nails, screws or bolts.

Then, to ensure accurate results, transfer the sketch to graph paper, letting each square on the paper equal 1 foot or some other clear-cut measurement.

For large projects, if you don't want to draw your own plans, you can alter existing ones. Purchase ready-drawn plans at home centers, or copy plans from books or magazines. If your project is elaborate, you might want to use the personalized computer planning that some home centers offer.

Once the plans for the project are drawn up, think the whole job through and make a list of the major steps. Put the steps in order, break them down into sub-steps, and number the steps and sub-steps.

Checking through the steps, make a list of all the tools you will want to have on hand. Then examine the steps and plans to determine the amount of materials you will need, including fasteners and hardware.

Line up helpers if the job is going to require working with materials that are heavy or awkward to handle. Also, set up a space for working on the project and storing the materials.

If there will be a lot of waste material, decide how you will recycle or dispose of it. Remember that materials such as oils, paints, lacquers, varnishes, thinners, strippers and other solvents are flammable or toxic. Some are hazardous to the environment.

Follow label directions for disposal. Or contact your local government to learn how to dispose of them properly.

Before finalizing any building or renovation plans, review them with your local building inspector, so that you are familiar with any related codes, restrictions or requirements and have complied with the law if a permit is necessary.

Get a permit if you need one, and schedule inspections. Permits are usually required for major renovations, such as turning a garage into a guest room. But they also may be required for small jobs such as walling in a patio, building a barbecue with a high chimney or breaking through a curb to install a driveway as well as many plumbing and electrical jobs.

When working on a project that requires excavating, such as putting in a sidewalk, ask your local utility and cable companies to mark underground cables or pipelines before you start digging. You can do this by calling one number: (800) 227-2600.

This will protect you from possible injury, liability and disruption of service.

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