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Home Projects: Should I DIY?

Does the phrase “do it yourself” get you excited about tackling jobs at home? Maybe you’re really handy and one step away from completing your own power tool set. Or maybe you like taking on DIY projects, but you still need a little help every now and then.  

So what sorts of projects should you do yourself? And which ones are best left to the experts? Charge up your batteries and fetch the safety goggles, because you’re about to find out!

What Is DIY?

DIY (which stands for “do it yourself”) is about doing a job around the home without calling in a professional for help. It could be anything from making a repair, decorating, or building something from scratch. Whatever you’re working on, you’re the star of your own DIY show!

What Should I DIY?

Here’s the big question: What should you do yourself? You should only take on jobs that you feel confident about. Maybe it’s a simple fix like replacing the washer in a leaky faucet or assembling furniture. Or maybe it’s something more complex like painting the kitchen or installing built-ins to increase your home’s value. 

It all depends on how good you feel about taking it on and how much time you have to do it. And the really great thing about DIY (along with being able to say, “Yeah, I did that!”) is that you’ll probably save money by not paying someone else to do it.

But before you start a DIY job, take a step back to decide which tasks need attention first so your home stays in tip-top shape—even if those fixes aren’t that exciting.

Here’s the big question: What should you do yourself? You should only take on jobs that you feel confident about.

Transforming a boring living room wall into the feature wall of your dreams may rank high in the excitement factor, but you should also set aside some time to fix the weather stripping that’s peeling around the windows in there, too. When you’re thinking about DIY, consider the entire project.

10 Easy DIY Home Improvement Projects

Here are just a few basic DIY jobs to get excited about. They’re not too scary, and they could make a big impact around your home.

1. Paint or apply wallpaper

Putting a fresh coat of paint on walls and ceilings can bring new life to your home. And wallpaper designs are no longer just the chintzy kind you remember from visits to your grandparents’ house. Some designs make bold style statements. Just remember to prime the surfaces first to get the best finish!

2. Do some landscaping

Creating a new flowerbed or veggie patch or just replacing old shrubs can be a fun DIY project if you like being outside and want to give your yard a new look.

3. Hang shelves or build storage solutions

Getting creative with floating shelves can display (or hide) all your clutter.

4. Replace cabinet doors, handles and faucets

Making these small changes in your kitchen or bathrooms can modernize those areas.

5. Update countertops

This is actually pretty “DIY-able” these days. There are options that overlay right on top of your existing countertops or vanity units.

6. Replace light fixtures

Adding new light fixtures can be an imaginative way to change the look of a room. Remember to make sure the voltage requirements of your new lights are suitable for the ones you’re replacing.

7. Strip floors

If you’re more ambitious, rent the equipment you’ll need to sand and restore old floors. It’ll give them another chance to shine!  

8. Apply caulking and weather stripping in and around the home

Okay, so this isn’t very glamorous, but it’s important if you want to protect your home from the elements or simply want to spruce up your bath and shower area.

9. Replace baseboards and crown molding

Installing new baseboards and crown molding can add an elegant touch to any room. There are plenty of videos you can watch online to help you along the way. 

10. Upgrade your appliances

Sleek new appliances don’t just look good, but many come with energy-saving modes to help with those utility bills.

How to Save Money on DIY Projects

If you’re ready to tackle DIY projects to make improvements to your home or boost its value, first make a plan and do some research about the costs and time involved. Here are some tips:

  • Use sites like HomeAdvisor, Angie’s List and Thumbtack to find out how much a professional would charge to do the job.
  • You can find unique items, cheaper materials and bargains at lumberyards, salvage stores and Re-Use centers.
  • Rent or borrow tools and big equipment you’ll only need to use once.
  • If you opt for help from an expert, buy the materials separately and do some of the prep work yourself to save money. Let’s say you’re remodeling your bathroom. You could pull up the flooring and remove cabinets before bringing in experts to do the plumbing and electricity. Tip: Ask around before buying goods, however, as some professionals prefer certain brands or may not allow donated materials.

If you opt for help from an expert, buy the materials separately and do some of the prep work yourself.

Reasons to Consider Hiring a Professional

Some jobs call for a professional—even if you could do it yourself. When you’re looking to start a project, consider whether or not it makes more sense to hire an expert. Here are some reasons you might not want to DIY:

It’s just not worth your time.

Find out how long it’ll take to finish that project you want to start—whether it’s retiling the bathroom or building a new deck. If it means you’ll spend every weekend for the next month working on it, then is it really worth it? Or would you be better off hiring a contractor who could do it in half the time?

You’re not skilled enough to do the job.

Unless you’re a certified electrician or a professional plumber, you should hire an expert when doing any DIY jobs that involve complex plumbing, electrical or gas line work. Not only are those tasks dangerous (Hello, electric shocks!), but you could do serious damage to your home.

You need special permits.

Thinking about knocking down that load-bearing wall? Hang on before you get happy with the sledgehammer! You might need a permit if you remove load-bearing walls, make structural changes to your roof, or convert your garage.

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