One of today's biggest challenge is finding enough time to do everything on our to do lists. This means homeowners have to prioritize and it's natural to start with tasks you like doing, ones you can complete quickly and ones that can't be ignored because everyone sees it every day. The reality is not every homeowner inherits the handyman genes, meaning every homeowner shouldn't engage in do it yourself.
That's why it's important to pick projects, ones you can do it yourself safely, and delegate other routine home maintenance and repairs with ease. It might be fun tackling projects as new homeowners, learning through trial and error. But trust me, you'll soon discover your do it yourself strengths and weaknesses.
Picking the Right Homeowner Do It Yourself Projects
So here are simple recommendations for which handyman chores you want to learn to do yourself, and when it makes more sense to hire a handyman or specialty contractor.
- Are the do it yourself skills you need to learn, ones you'll use over and over, for as long as you own a house?
- Are you able to invest in quality tools that you can hold, e.g. not too heavy, and/or use safely?
- Are the do it yourself projects ones you can complete in 4 to 8 hours, so they don't drag on for weeks?
- For larger projects, can you live without that room for the number of weekends you'll need to complete the job? For example, when my handyman business remodeled bathrooms, we'do promise to make the new shower/bathtub available within 24 hours.
- Do you have the skills and physical fitness to handle these projects safely? For example, young people might find it easy to work on a ladder but this ability drops with age and my handyman business had to build too many wheel chair ramps to not ask this question.
Outdoor Do It Yourself Safety Tips
Working outdoors has both plus and minuses. You're able to enjoy the fresh air but you may put yourself into awkward positions that aren't comfortable, and therefore aren't safe. When you're young and agile with good balance, you may be comfortable working from a ladder. But older people get into trouble doing things they might have done for many years, but they're no longer capable of working safely from a ladder.
My handyman business got multiple calls to finish jobs after the homeowner got hurt. One accident came over Thanksgiving weekend from the wife, who needed a wheelchair ramp built in 3 days so she could take her husband to his first doctor appointment. In his mid'60s, the man fell from a ladder and was lucky the chain saw he was using to trim tree branches, didn't touch him as they both fell to the ground.
- Stay off the roof unless you've worked on a roof in the past. You don't have the instincts to work safely and it's easy to make mistakes and/or damage the roof further.
- Practice ladder safety or let someone else take care of cleaning gutters, trimming tree branches, fixing roofing problems, etc. The American Ladder Institute offers more complete ladder safety tips.
- Take time to learn how to use tools correctly
- Don't operate power tools without their safety guards and don't buy tools without them.
- Use the correct blades (different for soft and hard woods, composites, concrete, etc) for power tools or they can cause accidents.
- Always unplug power tools when you leave the work area.
- Keep kids and pets away from the work area. With young children have someone on had to supervise them to avoid getting distracted.
Indoor Homeowner Do It Yourself Safety Tips
Indoors you don't have as many issues with height and ladder. Many homeowners used to call my handyman business to paint their stairwells and/or exceptionally high ceilings requiring scaffolding to paint … and that's a smart move as my technicians work off ladders every week, so it's second nature for them.
- Plan projects so you're able to cleanup the work site each night, one that is safe for family members. When necessary, place safety tape around areas you want people to stay out of.
- Unplug and put tools away or at least out of reach of children, when not being used.
- Read labels, follow directions and handle chemicals with care while stored in your home, and where/how you dispose of leftover materials.
- Use drop cloths and other safety equipment to minimize debris from do it yourself repairs. And this isn't easy, especially with airborne debris like drywall dust when you're spackling and sanding walls in prep for painting.
Sign up for our Savvy Homeowner Newsletter, published bi-weekly, to get more homeowner safety tips.