In honor of National DIY Day, which was this past Saturday April 2nd…
I love my husband. But he is not a handyman. If something breaks around the house his inclination is to make a phone call, whereas mine is to take a stab at fixing it ourselves. Growing up, my Mom and Dad did home improvement projects themselves, each having a set of skills that, when combined, covered most home repair issues. My mom painted, tackled electrical issues and fixed appliances, and my dad built decks, tiled, and remodeled bathrooms.
So, as a somewhat newish homeowner, when something breaks or goes wrong I choose to throw a little elbow grease at it before calling in reinforcements. In the last few years, I’ve successfully replaced busted hoses on my washer, switched out light fixtures, fixed a leaking toilet, replaced a heating element and re-installed a garbage disposal (it having been done incorrectly by the plumber before we moved in). I’ve learned to not be afraid to DIY, but also to not be stupid. Here are a few simple tips to help with the DIY process–even if it is just determining whether it is right for you.
1. The internet is your friend
There are a ton of resources at your fingertips nowadays. Home improvement stores have Q&A sections on their websites where you can post questions about projects that employees can help answer. There are a lot of reliable home improvement blogs and even Youtube has a huge selection of videos showing how to complete some basic projects. Doing a quick search can gain you a wealth of knowledge on any given topic to help you get started.
2. Utilize home improvement stores
Not only do they have online help, but they have in store employees as well. In any given trip to my local store I’ve found (1) that I can never find everything I need without asking for help and (2) while the average employee is teenaged and not super helpful, there’s also usually one or two, shall we say, more experienced folk who the teenagers usually turn to when they can’t help. These hidden gems generally impart a wealth of knowledge with just the simple question of “Where can I find X?” It’s almost like having your handyman right there in the store with you. I’ve found they can show you not only where to find the items you’re looking for, but also whether your list is complete, if anything is unnecessary, if there is a better substitute for something and talk you through what you’ll do with everything once you’re home on your own.
3. Bring in help
Don’t be afraid to admit if you are in over your head. Whether it’s bringing in an expert, recruiting another more-experienced DIY’er, or even just getting someone to help with the heavy lifting, it’s better to postpone a project or pause in the middle than create an even bigger issue than you started with. I wish I had waited a few hours to have my husband help hold up the crazy heavy garbage disposal while I mounted it in place. The satisfaction I felt in doing the job myself was quickly diminished by the weekend of back pain that resulted from my under-the-sink acrobatics. And I’ve made multiple calls to my mother, father, grandfather, multiple trips back to talk to my new home improvement store friend and researched dozen of blogs/videos on any given project–sometimes ultimately to have someone else take over.
There are countless projects around the home that someone with average knowledge (sometimes supplemented with a bit of someone else’s) and skills can tackle. It can save you time, save you money or just give you the satisfaction that you can take on more than you ever thought possible. Three days after installing my garbage disposal a plumber dropped a flyer at our door–$265 for garbage disposal installation vs. my $27 home improvement store supplies. Just knowing I’d completed a task many have to hire out and saving so much money in the process, was the ultimate pat on my (still sore) back. Just be smart–do your research, be safe and always stop if you are at all unsure.