A recent post on Wisebread asked readers what kind of DIY projects they have done in the past and I found the comments intriguing.
Everyone has their own line when it comes to deciding whether to tackle a job themselves or call in a professional to get the job done. A project I’d have no problem doing myself would scare the heck out of some people, but on the other hand there are other projects I wouldn’t go near while others wouldn’t think twice about them.
Obviously one of the main benefits of a DIY project is that you can save a good deal of money. Since you’ll be doing the labor yourself (or hopefully you have a buddy to help you out) all you have to pay for are the supplies. Of course, if you bite off more than you can chew you might end up having to call in a pro to undo the mess you made. In that case you could actually end up spending more than you would have if you had just called the pro to begin with!
Some DIY Projects I’ve Done Myself
- Unclogging drains. Between my wife and our two daughters it’s not surprising we’ve had our share of drains clogged with long hair. Liquid drain cleaners are a waste of time, I just whip out my snake and power drill and I can make quick work of most clogs. That doesn’t even include the time my son tried to flush away a miniature plush soccer ball. That time I needed to use an auger like the one used in this video.
- More plumbing adventures. I’m not a big fan of plumbing projects. They can get very messy and you always end up twisted into some crazy position trying to get into a tight spot. But when we bought our first house the bathroom sink was absolutely disgusting. I ripped the entire thing out and installed a whole new vanity, sink, faucet, water lines, and trap. It looked a thousand times better when I was done.
- Painting. I painted every room in our old house at least once. I’ve painted most of the rooms in our new house too. Plus I’ve helped friends and family paint too. But painting is a lot harder than most people realize. You need to take your time and be very detailed if you want it to look right. I’ve gotten better at spackling and sanding cracks but I still have room for improvement. My wife says my drywall repairs look fine but I’m never happy with them.
- New kitchen floor. With the help of my buddy Jim, I laid down new vinyl tile on my kitchen floor. The old floor was not exactly perfect so we had to lay down a fine coat of self-leveling underlayment before we could put down the tile. I was very proud of the way that floor came out.
- Doors and windows. No, I haven’t actually installed a new door or window yet since my house doesn’t need them. But I have installed dozens of venetian blinds as well as door knobs, a dead bolt, and a peephole. The dead bolt was especially tricky since it involved a lot of drilling and chiseling.
- Minor electrical. I confidently swap out light switches, receptacles, and light fixtures. Electricians charge a fortune for simple jobs that can be done in under 15 minutes!
- Cement step repair. This one I’m not too proud of. There was a crumbling concrete step in our backyard and I thought it would be a piece of cake to fix it. Let’s just say that trying to smooth and level the cement before it dries is a lot harder than you would think.
When I Called in the Professionals
While being able to do small and mid-sized jobs yourself is great, you have to recognize your limits and be prepared to call in a pro if a job is just too much for you to handle. Here are a few examples of where I needed to get some professional assistance…
- New Driveway. Yea, I don’t have access to a dump truck or paver so I skipped this job. In addition to laying down new asphalt in our driveway we had them lay down new paver stones in front of the house. I would try doing a paver walkway myself but it is a lot of work and I decided to just leave it to the pros.
- New roof. Obviously this is a huge job and since I’m not a big fan of heights doing it myself was not even a consideration.
- Major electrical. I don’t mind minor electrical jobs where you’re basically just removing wires from one fixture and screwing them to a new one. But if it involves accessing the main circuit panel or running a new electrical line I call an electrician.
- New hot water heater. When our old hot water heater died it was time for a new one. It seems like a simple enough job and I could probably do it myself but the thought of screwing something up and flooding the house scared me so I wisely left it to the pros to install.
As you can see I manage to complete quite a few jobs around the house myself, but I recognize there are times when I need to call in an expert.
What about you? What kind of projects have you done around your house? How did they come out?