Do it yourself is all the rage as people try to save money. Most of us try to do things when we're young, because we've got more time than money. My husband and I made furniture for our first house. He built the chairs using carpentry skills he started to hone when he built a boat at age 12, and I made the cushions with sewing skills I'd developed making figure skating outfits.
There are lots of things we can do ourselves but they take time to master. Do you remember learning to read, write or cook. These skills that you take for granted today, didn't come overnight. You've got to learn how to hold tools the right way, how to buy the right materials, when to take action and when to wait … like waiting 2 days before you stain a wood deck.
Learning Do It Yourself Skills Requires a Teacher
Learning do it yourself is much easier today with all the videos available. However the best do it yourself video won't answer questions, and many videos aren't correct or more often complete so it's difficult to know when you've got all the information you need.
For example, when looking for garbage disposal repair videos, it took three to explain all the steps required. And that doesn't include problems like a frayed electrical wire or a leak. It really happens and one Christmas eve around 5pm, we agreed that Mike would stop by on his way home because the older gentleman who hadn't been able to wash dishes for a week. We got the new garbage disposal installed but it took a lot longer than an hour.
So here are the ways to learn do it yourself skills, so you can do more things around your house.
- Yes, you can start by watching videos and reading books.
- Even better is watching (helping) a skilled contractor make repairs on your house. You'll want to find contractors that like explaining what they're doing and answering questions, as not everyone will be comfortable.
- Volunteer to help someone else on a project – a friend with great homeowner skills that needs help, or join a Habitat for Humanity, Women Build event in your local area.
If you're in southern NH or within an hour drive of Manchester,
come learn how to install wood flooring (click to learn more).
Do It Yourself Homeowner Skills Require Practice
Now that you've found the teacher(s) you need to guide your learning, it's time to practice. The ideal way to practice new do it yourself skills is with someone to show you how to do things, answer your questions and help address problems as quickly as they occur.
So the different jobs you'll do mean using different tools and working with different materials. Everyone should learn how to paint their home, at least the interior (outside painting from ladders is better done by home professionals). But painting isn't as easy as you think when you consider:
- Picking the right paint colors, paint finishes and paint brushes.
- Prepping surfaces as painting won't hide most imperfections in drywall or wood trim.
- Painting to get the best coverage, using the right amount of paint … with a minimum of drops and spills. Simple tricks like taking a full paint roller and spreading paint in a random, W shape to spread paint evenly isn't something you'll find in a video but it's important.
- Cleaning paint brushes so you can use them for years (learn how from a painting pro).
Invest in Homeowner Skills You'll Use Many Times
Ready to manage your home? Before you invest in a lot of tools, you'll want to think about the skills you can use year after year. The most important skill you'll want to develop is how to inspect your home and find problems early. That's because the repairs will be smaller, so they'll require less time and money.
- Shutting off the water (learn how here) – at sinks, the toilet and where it enters the house.
- Resetting electrical power – at GFI switches in the kitchen and bathrooms, and breakers or fuses at the electrical panel.
- Replacing filters wherever they're used – furnace, air conditioners, dehumidifiers, kitchen faucets, refrigerators, etc. You also need to clean dryer vents, although there's no filter involved.
- Inspecting for water problems – under sinks, around the toilet, bathtubs and showers.
- Caulking – buying it, removing old caulk and applying new caulk inside and outside.
- Painting the right way – from prepping the walls, to learning which paint is best for different rooms, buying quality paint and brushes, to using the right tools and … gosh, painting!
- Using screwdrivers (slotted, Phillips and hex) – to quickly tighten things that are lose before wood filler or bigger screws are needed, or worse, someone gets hurt.
- Replacing screen fabric – on windows and screen doors.
- Keeping your home comfortable – with weatherstripping on doors, windows and around window air conditioners, changing the direction of fans for summer/winter.
- Cleaning floors thoroughly and consistently – to extend the life of your floors from hardwood to carpeting.
Maybe this wasn't the list you were expecting? These things seem obvious but do you have a schedule for completing them on a regular basis? They're what's called preventive home maintenance, to lower your monthly utility bills and homeowner repair costs.