Many homeowners dream about having special projects done around the home but can't afford the cost of having a professional do it for them. For instance, having a new door lock installed can cost $75 in handyman rates and the costs get higher for jobs such as repairing steps, painting or putting in laminate flooring. Even with these costs hanging over their heads they couldn't conceive of a do-it-yourself approach.
The real truth is that many people do not think that they are handy enough to attempt even the simplest of jobs. When they walk through a home store they are baffled by the hundreds of different building materials and tools. So they go home and spend hours pouring over home magazines and dreaming of the day when they can have the money to hire a professional.
One of the reasons for this dilemma is that people tend to look too hard at the big picture and miss the components. There is an old saying:
In other words, by breaking down a large project, or a series of needed repairs, into smaller parts any homeowner can tackle a job. In many business circles this is called "chunking" because a project is broken up into chunks for easier handling. However, this process only works when there is a plan in place, one that contains a series of steps.
Plan to Do-It-Yourself
1. What Do You Want to Do?
The key to a successful project is to make a list of things you want to do around the home. Start with the items that need the most attention. If the jobs require messing with plumbing or electrical wiring you will probably will need a professional. However, depending upon how much background research is done changing out a faucet washer or installing a ceiling fan can be a do-it-yourself job. The key is to get your do-it-yourself plans down on paper so you can make a qualified decision. Otherwise these projects are just thoughts flitting around in your head and driving you crazy.
As with many things in our life the more we learn about an unfamiliar process the aura of complexity begins to disappear. This works for do-it-yourself home repair projects too. With a bit of discovery many jobs will unravel into logical parts. For example, if you watch a locksmith change out a door lock from a distance it seems like a "dark art," but if the person lets you see the process then it suddenly becomes a series of moves that can be completed with a Phillips screwdriver. This simple knowledge will save you from $40 to $70 in locksmith fees or handyman prices for the next time you need to change out a lock.
One of the great things about most building supply and home stores is that they offer free courses in everything from installing tile to replacing a toilet. In addition, local libraries have instructional videos that are available free of charge. And if that is inconvenient then there are do-it-yourself websites with the same information.
Another great way to get information is to ask at the building supply store. Many of the people who work there are retired tradespeople and have a lifetime of experience in just the jobs you want to tackle.
Seemingly-difficult jobs can also be de-mystified by using the proper tools. By purchasing a simple tool set you can be on your way to doing your own small projects:
1. Hammer2. Screwdriver with various bits3. Electrical pliers with cutting edge4. Adjustable wrench5. 1" chisel6. Socket wrench set7. Level8. Keyhole saw
If you catch the right sales the total price of this kit can be as low as $25. The best way to get a tools set is to go to a hardware or home store and ask for a complete kit. These tools usually come in a carrying case and include many other optional tools. Once you have a basic tool kit you can add more tools as other jobs come up: cordless drill, miter saw.
From your research on your project you can begin to figure out the basic materials. However, always check with a few people at the building supply stores first. They are up-to-date on building materials and can help you figure out what you need. Of course, you have to shop around and watch for sales.
Fear is the biggest motivator for not beginning a project. There are a lot of levels of fear but the main one is that you might mess up. So, like everything else in life you need to have a few practice runs. If you are installing laminate flooring start in a closets or in a place that won't be seen. This goes for faux painting where you need to perfect strokes for the continuity of the pattern. So, go paint on a wall in a storage area that is never seen by anyone but you. Practicing builds confidence and pushes aside procrastination.
Another great way to get jobs done rather than pay handyman prices is to ask a friend or neighbor for help in exchange for helping them do something. Many of the people around you are very handy at things like installing a door or building shelving. If they can't put in time for the whole project, like laying tile, they probably can get you started and give you tips on how to proceed.
For more information consult our Contractor Directory or place your project online and have a handyman or contractor contact you.
Key Hiring Tips
From large to small projects, before you select any contractor be sure to take the time to properly screen them. The time it takes now to screen a contractor will help ensure success for your home improvement project and avoid problems down the road.