September 24, 2020

When D-I-Y Costs Less Than P-R-O

Despite what you may hear to the contrary, our modern society has a proliferation of homes in all types of colors, sizes, and arrangements. In fact, there are more well-built, modern, and comfortable homes now than there ever have been before in human history. Our antiquated ancestors never had access to an electric hot water heater, nor did they enjoy delivery to their well-manicured doorstep from apps on their smartphone while they listened to streaming music at a comfortable 72 degrees Fahrenheit. But unlike today, whenever they got tired of one area, exhausted the food supply or the seasons changed, they could move on at the drop of a hat. When you own very little, this is easy to do. When you own a house and all the possessions that tend to come with it, not so much. Owning a home is nice, but still requires responsibility that tends to be combined with elbow grease.

The maintenance and care that comes with a home can seem daunting to the person who has only ever lived in managed housing like apartments or condominiums. In the latter cases, you likely never had to worry about replacing the oval ductwork fittings in your central A/C unit or trash compactor in the kitchen. These were simply things that your landlord or property manager regularly inspected and maintained in order to keep you happy and paying the maximum amount of rent possible without moving to another residence. So now that you’re a homeowner (or thinking becoming one), the task of tackling simple home projects probably seems like a daunting one.

Instead of worrying about whether you’re going to mess up and blow your new dwelling to kingdom come, take a deep breath and rest assured that many people throughout history have had far fewer resources than you and have done much more. With the internet, books, podcasts, and more to educate you about maintaining your castle you should have nothing to worry about and everything to gain.

Simple Home Projects Even You Can Do

You’ve finally moved into your new home, completed the inspection, and signed the papers with your new real estate agent friend. As you’re moving in and arranging things just so (for your own personal feel), you notice that a lot of the electrical outlets seem to be worn out and old. Many even feel loose when you plug them in, and a couple of stray sparks make you wonder whether you’ve just purchased a tinder box instead of a ranch house.

Before you call an electrician (and spend perhaps hundreds of dollars) or receive medical treatment for shocks and burns, realize something: replacing electrical outlets is not that difficult if you simply take the time to understand what they are. A cursory bit of research indicates that electrical outlets are not the major remodeling project that people make them out to be, they are simply a bit of maintenance that attaches to the electrical system. Take the precautions of wearing protective clothing, turning off the power to the room where the outlets are located and then follow an instructional video/manual to replace them yourself. With a screwdriver, a bit of grit, and about 10 minutes of dedicated time, you might be wondering if you’re destined for a more “electric” type of job!

In a similar vein to electrical outlets, AC¬†installation can either be a huge fuss (better suited for a professional) or a breeze that will eventually have you sipping cool drinks in the shade. Again, it is one of the simple home projects that most people can master with a bit of basic research and determination. Of course, this depends on the type of A/C that you’d like to have installed in a room or area of the house. For centralized A/C that requires duct work and multiple vents, you should probably call a professional so that you don’t go crazy trying to cool your master bedroom down. But for a room or certain area of the house that is not experiencing the optimal temperature you want it to, installing a window or floor air conditioner should be a literal breeze that soon will be flowing freely on your exhausted brow. HVAC maintenance, on the other hand, should be left to the pros.

First, you should measure the window or area that you intend the A/C unit to be in. There’s nothing worse than picking out your perfect air conditioner at the hardware store, only to find that you can’t actually use it. Once you have the measurements, decide if you’d like a window unit (they fit in the actual window of a room) or a floor unit (they sit on the floor, usually on an elevated surface) and determine the level of cool/heat that you need by reading detailed reviews and descriptions of units within your price range. When you’ve finally bought your unit, follow the instructions provided to either mount it in a window or have it sit pretty in your room. Plug it in, turn it on, and like magic you will have a climate controlled room within a couple of hours.

Last, but not least, painting and tiling can also be done by you at the mere cost of materials and your time. From a distance, both of these activities look difficult and like they should be left to professionals, but they are simply acquired skills that require a time investment. And while some people may not like the repetitive behaviors of painting or laying mortar for tile, they are both simple home projects that can take on a zen-like meditate quality once you learn to perfect them. A bonus of having a time investment is that you can use the passing minutes and hours to learn even more skills, like listening to an introductory podcast on a subject you’ve always been interested in, or even find more recommended simple home projects from experts and amateurs alike. Whether you paint your room orange or finally give your master bathroom that faux wooden tile for an extra chic look, it will probably end up being time very well spent and enjoyed.

Not So Simple: When To Leave It To The Pros

Lots of things you can improve around your home truly are simple home projects that can be learned from videos, books, and even your kindly craftsman neighbor. But there are some things that really are just better left to professionals who have the insurance, licensing, and experience to get the job done correctly without mucking it up or causing harm to themselves or somebody else. In the same way that you’re better off trusting your car to a qualified mechanic when you need auto body repair done, there are many jobs in which it is worth paying someone to take the load off of your mind, hands, and back.

Repairing your roof can be a pain and is not one of those simple home projects that can be done in an hour. Because the roof of your house is a major part of the structure and architecture of the building, you are going to want to make sure it is done right. Without qualified and experienced personnel working on it, you are basically setting yourself up for leaks not to be fixed, heating/cooling problems, and possible pest infestations of truly epic proportions. Whether you are replacing shingles, building a new roof, or putting on silicone roof coatings, you will most definitely want a professional who is highly reviewed and brings their own team of specialized roofers and craftsman to come and finish the job with style and grace. Not only will they actually be able to get up on that roof and work, but they should also be able to recommend materials, guarantee your roof for a certain number of years, and give you a scheduled list of what maintenance needs to be done and at what approximate cost. When you entrust in a reviewed and insured roofer, you shouldn’t have much to fear.

Like your roof, the driveway portion of your property (even if it is a small area) can be a difficult place to maintain, especially depending on the weather in your local area and how long it has been since the last service. Since driveways are also made out of different materials (asphalt, brick, stone, etc) you may even have to call in a specialist who knows that material. Specifically, if yours is made out of asphalt, you will need to call a company or individual who has experience in paving and grading in order to recoat, seal, or re-do the driveway. It can be such a nightmare to invest your time, energy, and money into making sure your driveway is in order that it is best never put on a list of “simple home projects” by anyone who knows what they’re talking about. The potential problems are numerous and you certainly don’t want to have any terrible accidents like getting run over by a steamroller, burning a body part on hot tar, or accidentally dropping large rocks or bricks somewhere they don’t belong. Do yourself a favor and make this project a professional one.

Part Of Your Home, But Not Attached

So far in this article, we’ve talked about parts of your home that are actually part of your home. As in, connected by walls and hallways and rooms. There are many simple home projects you can do inside, but what about outside? Thankfully it doesn’t get too incredibly complicated once you step outside your front door, and there are both garden equipment and outdoor tips that can help you make the most of whatever you’re trying to do. If you’re willing to roll up your sleeves and put in the effort required, you can even become a master gardener and creative landscaper just like the pros.

Maintaining your yard is not as difficult as the landscaping companies would like you to believe. In fact, it is probably one of the most simple home projects you can do, because there’s really no wrong answer. Want to put flowers in a peace sign symbol on your front lawn? Go to your favorite local nursery and get to work. Have a hankering for apples, but don’t like buying them? Fruit trees are widely available and easy to plant with a shovel and about an hour’s time. Unless you are limited by neighborhood covenants or an HOA, you are mostly free to do what you want with your yard and exercise your creative muscles. Just be wary that if you paint mow “land here” on your lawn you could receive an unidentified visit from friends in another galaxy aboard their personal UFO.

Just like your yard, the outside of your house occasionally needs some sprucing up and a little bit of TLC. Mold, paint, and debris can all accumulate near the bottom of your house or in well-trafficked areas and make your home look like a hovel. Consider renting a pressure washer from your local hardware store and either receiving some training on how to use it or consulting the instruction manual that comes with it. These handy devices are powerful enough to wash away year’s worth of grit, grime, and dirt while still preserving precious wood stains and the wonderful hardy material underneath. They usually plug straight into your home’s electrical outlets and receive hose water as their main input.

Make sure to be careful that you avoid trying to “wash” any of the windows of your home with this device, as it is powerful enough to break glass and cause more of a mess than you’d like. Also avoid aiming it at people, pets, or sensitive things like cars. Pressure washers have a specific use, and unfortunately playfully jousting them like a common garden hose is not one. Be smart and you’ll find it an extremely useful tool in completing one of the easiest simple home projects: cleaning the outside of your house.

A Job Well Done Isn’t The Only Reward

When you learn how to DIY on simple home projects in your own residence, one would hope that you feel a sense of accomplishment. Perhaps even a sense of giddy glee, like you’re moving on up in the world and will soon be on to better things. A lot more can come from learning new skills than simply accomplishing a project. It can give you a confidence boost that soon translates to other areas of your life and improves the world as a whole, radiating outward like some sort of positive energy comet destined for a galaxy of personal fulfillment and wonder.

Who knows? You might just be well on your way to buying a home in Florida and taking it easy for the rest of your days. There are certainly worse things to complain about than sipping coconut drinks with little straws on the beach. Simple home projects are not one of them, and you’ll rest easy in your partially DIY-repaired house knowing that if anything should happen to go wrong, you’re more than capable. In fact, you’re knowledgable, reliant, and downright experienced!

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