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5 key phases to any DIY project

September 15, 20224 min read

There are 5 key phases to any DIY project, and they are as follows.


  1. Pre-planning

  2. Rough-in

  3. Cover

  4. Installation

  5. Close out


Each one is singularly not more important than the other however, I stand firm in my belief that the phase with the most impact is the Pre-planning phase.  




My belief on the importance of this phase is because this is the only time to save money on your project.  The pre-planning phase answers all the questions and sets your project up for success.  Pre-planning answers the most pertinent questions; the who’s, the how’s, the what’s and the when’s.  I didn’t address the Why’s simply because that is for you to determine.  The “who” is your team that will actually perform the work.  The “how” determines the process of your project.  The “what” is the product for your project and the “when” is the schedule.  


A properly laid out pre-planning phase will also set up the DIY contractor for success and respect with their chosen team.  I know this is redundant, yet I must stress that this phase is the only time to save money on your project. 


Rough In


Now that you have your plan and have communicated it to your team, the time has come to set the plan into action.  You will begin with the rough-in phase.  I have seen all the fun videos of swinging a sledgehammer and knocking things down or digging a big hole with fun machinery.  Truth be told I have had some fun with that myself.  Yet, rough-in is way more than demolition.  This is where you will prepare your site for the other trades to execute their part of your plan and have all work inspected for functionality and proper operation.  This is the point that all of the unseen items are put in place for final operation.  This could be drip lines for freshly planted landscaping and gardens or new wiring and plumbing for new lighting and faucets.  The main takeaway should be to start with the end in mind and respectfully prepare your site.



The cover phase is simply getting your project to what I like to call a fresh canvas.  If you are renovating interior space this will be arriving to painted drywall or fresh topsoil in preparation for landscaping.  Of course, there is more to this phase than simply drywall, paint or dirt.  You will also need to prepare your site for your next phase.




The installation phase or as I like to call it the “Big Show” is very straight forward. Now is the time to install your new product.  This could be cabinets or flooring or various plantings.  All of your product (your “what’s”) will now begin to reveal what has been inside your head as a vision or on your 2D paper.  I have seen so much excitement during this phase and although I agree this is a very cool time, you owe it to your dream and your project to embrace that excitement and see it through to the final phase.  




I believe that the project close-out phase is too easy to lose focus.  You are so close you can feel it, breathe deep and time for the final push.  Get your punch list in order for each and every trade (your “who”) and make sure to button up all loose ends.  This will prevent that annoying feeling of something undone that in time simply gets lost or forgotten. 

I am a builder and am guilty of this myself.  I did an interior renovation on a home I lived in and for 15 years I looked at 6 missing pieces of trim for all of those 15 years.  When I decided to sell that home, I went to my garage and out of my saved trim pile I spent a grand total of 1.5 hours getting tools out, moving furniture and finishing the unfinished task including putting tools away.  I am still annoyed with myself that I didn’t complete it sooner, I always said “Does a mailman want to go home and take a walk?”  I know, cheesy analogy and a weak excuse.  My point is to finish what you started so you can kick back with pride and enjoy your successful project.

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5 key phases to any DIY project

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