Before You Do-It-Yourself


Years ago most home repairs were either performed by the homeowner, or were done by a handy friend or neighbour. Roofing, windows, chimney cleaning, concrete pouring and other jobs were shared by the community rather than the homeowner going through the expense of hiring a professional.

Today people are busier, and for many the thought of even changing a door lock or other do-it-yourself home repair seems like a daunting task. However, the first order of business in doing anything that seems difficult is to learn everything you can about it and the second is to break the project up into small pieces. Some of those smaller jobs you can learn to tackle yourself, and for others you may need a professional. The key is to separate these parts out and get them into an orderly process.

For example, a homeowner wants to remove a wall between an old galley kitchen and the dining room. He or she may do the work of removing the old drywall from the wall and then hire professionals to remove the wiring, strengthened headers, remove the wall studs and drywall the ceiling. The homeowner may then do the flooring in the new, larger area and provide the painting. Even these small jobs can cut the cost of the project by over $1,000, and they are skills that are easily learned.

Planing to Do It Yourself

  • Define the Project

The problem with many household projects is that they can escalate into even bigger and more costly jobs. In the middle of putting tile on the bathroom floor you may hear yourself say, "Well, since we're already making a mess we might as well put in a new vanity . . ." By thinking this way your expenses begin to get out of control.

What you should do is take a close look at the whole bathroom and write down what you can afford to do in both time and money. Forget the floor for now and spend a couple of months saving for the vanity. Now you can do the whole project because you have the money to pay for both the vanity and flooring, and also the professional to install the plumbing. Another option is to save for the vanity and, while you are waiting, learn how to hook up the plumbing yourself. The main idea is to plan so you will have options.

  • Educate Yourself

Almost anything can be learned given the right amount of time. There are jobs like replacing a door entry lock mechanism that may seem out of your realm until you have someone explain it to you. There are many ways to get knowledge:

  • Library videos

  • Seminars at building supply stores

  • Online videos and articles on handyman sites

  • Learning from someone who knows how to do it.

Another great way to gain knowledge is to pick the brains of the staff at business supply stores. Many of these sales people are retired and have a wealth of knowledge they don't mind sharing. For a few hours invested in interviewing these handy people you can save from $70 to $100 in handyman prices by replacing your own door locks or extending the ABS drain under your vanity.

  • Proper Tools

To be an efficient do-it-yourselfer you need the right tools. However, you shouldn't go out and buy half the bargains in the weekend flyer. Just buy what you need for the job. For example, you can buy a starter tool kit for under $30 that includes:

  • Hammer

  • Screwdriver with various bits

  • Electrical pliers with cutting edge

  • Adjustable wrench

  • Basic socket wrench set

  • Level

  • Keyhole saw

  • Chisel

As each job comes up you can buy more tools, but be frugal and only get what you need. Later, when you become more enlightened, you can get a cordless drill and miter saw but these are only when the jobs get larger.

  • Building Supplies

When purchasing building materials buy only what you need not what you'll think you will need. The last thing that you want is hundreds of dollars of items sitting around in the garage waiting for what you "might do." Unless they are items like small nails, that are cheap and that you will use in almost every small job, this is a waste of money and space.

  • Get Experience

The only way to learn is to "do." So practice. If you want to do faux painting, which takes practice to get a nice effect, start in a closet or dabble on the wall of a storage room. The main idea is to get going and mess up in an area that is not noticeable. Good results are contagious.

  • Shared Experience

Another way to have a successful do-it-yourself job done around your home is to get someone wiser than you to help. Many of your friends and neighbours are quite handy so impose on them to help you. If they don't have the time then impose on them to help get you started. In return they may need your skills in the garden or some other place where you excel.

For more information consult our Contractors Directory or post your project at and have a handyman or contractor contact you.

Posted by: TrustedPros
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