What home task(s) are worth learning to do yourself?

Questions on how we spend our money and our time - consumer goods and services, home and vehicle, leisure and recreational activities
Post Reply
LandOLakes
Posts: 24
Joined: Tue Feb 16, 2016 11:03 pm

What home task(s) are worth learning to do yourself?

Post by LandOLakes » Sat Aug 12, 2017 3:28 pm

I am probably going to buy a house in the next 6-12 months, and have been thinking about where I want to spend my time in terms of upkeep. I am not very handy but am not completely hopeless. Is there a particular skill or set of skills that you think it's worth investing time and money to learn to do yourself rather than farm out? For example, should I try to learn some basics about plumbing? Carpentry? Car repair? Or should I just keep doing what I do now, which is a combination of Google + (usually) paying an expert.

Just curious what others have found particularly useful or cost effective in their own lives.

livesoft
Posts: 56381
Joined: Thu Mar 01, 2007 8:00 pm

Re: What home task(s) are worth learning to do yourself?

Post by livesoft » Sat Aug 12, 2017 3:36 pm

It probably makes more sense to just learn things as one needs to. For instance, why learn plumbing if you never have a plumbing problem?
This signature message sponsored by sscritic: Learn to fish.

jebmke
Posts: 6669
Joined: Thu Apr 05, 2007 2:44 pm

Re: What home task(s) are worth learning to do yourself?

Post by jebmke » Sat Aug 12, 2017 3:41 pm

I highly recommend knowing where the water shutoff is. This is something you should "learn" even before a problem crops up.

We have two zones in our current house but in one of our prior houses we had more zones so you could shut off part of the house. In a real pinch I can flip the breaker that feeds the well but there would still be enough pressure in the tank to do some real damage.
When you discover that you are riding a dead horse, the best strategy is to dismount.

User avatar
LadyGeek
Site Admin
Posts: 40421
Joined: Sat Dec 20, 2008 5:34 pm
Location: Philadelphia
Contact:

Re: What home task(s) are worth learning to do yourself?

Post by LadyGeek » Sat Aug 12, 2017 3:41 pm

This thread is now in the Personal Consumer Issues forum (tasks).

You'll need tools for those tasks. Is a Home Depot near by? Try attending some of their DIY Workshops. Tools are worthwhile expenses, but you need to understand how to use them correctly.
To some, the glass is half full. To others, the glass is half empty. To an engineer, it's twice the size it needs to be.

denovo
Posts: 3397
Joined: Sun Oct 13, 2013 1:04 pm

Re: What home task(s) are worth learning to do yourself?

Post by denovo » Sat Aug 12, 2017 3:42 pm

jebmke wrote:
Sat Aug 12, 2017 3:41 pm
I highly recommend knowing where the water shutoff is. This is something you should "learn" even before a problem crops up.

+1

runner3081
Posts: 637
Joined: Mon Aug 22, 2016 3:22 pm

Re: What home task(s) are worth learning to do yourself?

Post by runner3081 » Sat Aug 12, 2017 3:59 pm

I will give most anything a try after watching it on Youtube. Basic furnace repair, garage opener repair, etc.

goingup
Posts: 2703
Joined: Tue Jan 26, 2010 1:02 pm

Re: What home task(s) are worth learning to do yourself?

Post by goingup » Sat Aug 12, 2017 4:00 pm

We do our own painting.
Minor plumbing like toilet guts replacement and clearing drains at the elbow joints.
Caulking tubs and showers as required
Regrouting tile
Clearing gutters that don't require getting on the roof
Lawn mowing, minor tree trimming, planting, weeding
Staining sealing decks and outdoor furniture
Replacing light fixtures
Changing HVAC filters

All of the above is pretty routine maintenance. The things I hire out are:
Electrical work
Gas plumbing work
Chimney sweep
Roof work and gutters on 2nd story
Appliance repair
Carpet cleaning
Big tree and hedge trimming
Asphalt sealing
Sump pump install and maintenance

I wouldn't worry too much about learning how to do things ahead of time. Be aware of things that need to be done routinely and youtube can become your best teacher!

tigermilk
Posts: 454
Joined: Thu Aug 15, 2013 9:32 am

Re: What home task(s) are worth learning to do yourself?

Post by tigermilk » Sat Aug 12, 2017 4:06 pm

If I go back over my 23+ years of home ownership as well as being an adult in general, the one thing that has paid myself the most is yard work. I have probably saved at least $25k to $30k by doing that myself. Next would be painting where we have saved $5-$10k. I do a fair amount of minor plumbing, but those issues come up so rarely as do most others. I do a fair amount of my own car work, but fortunately the cars have been pretty trouble free. Oil changes actually cost about the same DIY, but the time savings (10-15 minutes rather than waiting at a shop) is worth; t.

Tamales
Posts: 1151
Joined: Sat Jul 05, 2014 10:47 am

Re: What home task(s) are worth learning to do yourself?

Post by Tamales » Sat Aug 12, 2017 4:59 pm

Just about anything besides pouring concrete, replacing a tile roof, and replacing carpet in large areas is doable as a DIY project. Even drawing and getting plans approved for a room addition is a doable DIY project if you have some good references (person, book, reference plans).

Nearly any smaller project is doable as a DIY. Or at least, I can't think of one off hand that isn't.

Lexi
Posts: 65
Joined: Sat Jan 30, 2016 10:28 am

Re: What home task(s) are worth learning to do yourself?

Post by Lexi » Sat Aug 12, 2017 5:01 pm

Think about what tasks legally require permits and / or may risk liability if something goes wrong. Avoid doing those.

Beyond that it is largely a matter of what are you capable of and what do you want to do.

iamlucky13
Posts: 566
Joined: Sat Mar 04, 2017 5:28 pm

Re: What home task(s) are worth learning to do yourself?

Post by iamlucky13 » Sat Aug 12, 2017 5:16 pm

Learning how to do things as they come up is usually fine.

Except, as mentioned, how to shut off your water. Also familiarize yourself with the electrical panel. I'd go ahead and, if it's not well labeled already, plan to spend an afternoon at somepoint after you buy a home, shutting off breakers one at a time and figuring out what all is connected to it. This way the information is already handy if something comes up.

Personally, I do everything I have time for. I don't recommend it. I do it because I enjoy figuring things out and doing them well. If your leisure time more than working on projects and can afford to hire someone, be sensible and hire the work out. For me, the projects are part of my leisure.

Tamarind
Posts: 605
Joined: Mon Nov 02, 2015 2:38 pm

Re: What home task(s) are worth learning to do yourself?

Post by Tamarind » Sat Aug 12, 2017 5:19 pm

goingup wrote:
Sat Aug 12, 2017 4:00 pm
We do our own painting.
Minor plumbing like toilet guts replacement and clearing drains at the elbow joints.
Caulking tubs and showers as required
Regrouting tile
Clearing gutters that don't require getting on the roof
Lawn mowing, minor tree trimming, planting, weeding
Staining sealing decks and outdoor furniture
Replacing light fixtures
Changing HVAC filters

All of the above is pretty routine maintenance. The things I hire out are:
Electrical work
Gas plumbing work
Chimney sweep
Roof work and gutters on 2nd story
Appliance repair
Carpet cleaning
Big tree and hedge trimming
Asphalt sealing
Sump pump install and maintenance

I wouldn't worry too much about learning how to do things ahead of time. Be aware of things that need to be done routinely and youtube can become your best teacher!
This is a great list. I would pull some appliance repair into the DIY side, especially washers and dryers, which are surprisingly easy to fix with a screwdriver and cheap replacement parts except for the motors themselves, which are usually the last to go. I would also add minor drywall repair.

Goal33
Posts: 469
Joined: Sun Apr 12, 2015 12:30 pm

Re: What home task(s) are worth learning to do yourself?

Post by Goal33 » Sat Aug 12, 2017 5:23 pm

livesoft wrote:
Sat Aug 12, 2017 3:36 pm
It probably makes more sense to just learn things as one needs to. For instance, why learn plumbing if you never have a plumbing problem?
Agreed. Every time there's an issue, you evaluate if you can do it yourself or if you need a professional. The same applies to the car. Sometimes I'm uncertain but then once I get a quote from a professional in the 4 figures I'm usually proud of myself when I can do it myself for 1/10 the cost. If I counted the cost of my labor the math wouldn't work out so well though.
A man with one watch always knows what time it is; a man with two watches is never sure.

adamthesmythe
Posts: 1573
Joined: Mon Sep 22, 2014 4:47 pm

Re: What home task(s) are worth learning to do yourself?

Post by adamthesmythe » Sat Aug 12, 2017 5:27 pm

> why learn plumbing if you never have a plumbing problem?

If you own a house it's not if it's when.

Apart from what has been mentioned- it is particularly valuable to know how things work and therefore to be able to reason and diagnose problems. There is probably more to be saved by knowing WHO to call and WHAT to fix than learning to do it yourself. Of course, being able to fix after diagnosing the problem is even better.

User avatar
whodidntante
Posts: 2098
Joined: Thu Jan 21, 2016 11:11 pm

Re: What home task(s) are worth learning to do yourself?

Post by whodidntante » Sat Aug 12, 2017 5:36 pm

I'm pretty handy and do most maintenance myself for my vehicles and my home. I enjoy it as low grade intellectual stimulation. My work involves solving complex multi-year strategic challenges and it's nice to begin and end something in a day as a change of pace. I don't think you should try to learn it in advance, other than a few common things that you know for sure you need to do. Just learn as you go. It's more useful to learn how to think and to research a problem at hand than to prime your knowledge.

User avatar
sdsailing
Posts: 515
Joined: Thu Feb 27, 2014 4:42 pm
Location: San Diego

Re: What home task(s) are worth learning to do yourself?

Post by sdsailing » Sat Aug 12, 2017 8:42 pm

I think they are ALL worth learning, but this is highly personal. There's no general rule. It also relates to my real estate investing, both now and in the future.

Andyrunner
Posts: 596
Joined: Thu May 03, 2012 9:14 am

Re: What home task(s) are worth learning to do yourself?

Post by Andyrunner » Sat Aug 12, 2017 9:08 pm

I just finished my basement myself. I learned to frame, install electrical wiring, hvac ducts, basic plumbing ( I hired this out but learned a lot), painted, laid flooring, stained and installed trim/ doors and even a small railing.

I knew nothing before this, I asked a lot of people, read books, YouTube a ton, failed inspections (passed after 2nd attempt). Borrowed and bought a ton of tools. I probably saved 20-30k doing this. But the knowledge was priceless. I understand a lot more about trades now and helps in conversation, basic small projects and bonus points to my man-card.

If you have the time and will, learn it. The challenge is fun.

User avatar
Watty
Posts: 11314
Joined: Wed Oct 10, 2007 3:55 pm

Re: What home task(s) are worth learning to do yourself?

Post by Watty » Sat Aug 12, 2017 11:37 pm

LandOLakes wrote:
Sat Aug 12, 2017 3:28 pm
Just curious what others have found particularly useful or cost effective in their own lives.
One thing to consider is how much risk there is in doing the work yourself. Getting up on the roof or a tall ladder might not be a good idea if you don't know what you are doing and don't have the right safety equipment. When I was a teenager I worked at a nursing home during the summer. All the residents were elderly except for one guy that was about 35 and a quadriplegic. He had tried putting his own roof on to save money and had fallen off the roof. Seeing that when you are a teenager kinda sticks with you. I have no problem paying someone who has the experience, skills, and right equipment to do work like that.
runner3081 wrote:
Sat Aug 12, 2017 3:59 pm
I will give most anything a try after watching it on Youtube. Basic furnace repair, garage opener repair, etc.
+1

Even if you decide to not do a project yourself after watching the video you will be in a much better position to talk with a repair person and have a feel as to what is reasonable to pay them.
denovo wrote:
Sat Aug 12, 2017 3:42 pm
jebmke wrote:
Sat Aug 12, 2017 3:41 pm
I highly recommend knowing where the water shutoff is. This is something you should "learn" even before a problem crops up.

+1
Another +1.

I would also add knowing how to shut off the natural gas and electricity.

By the time my son was about 12 I had shown him how to turn off the water and natural gas in case he was home alone and an earthquake hit or there was some other problem. I had an inexpensive wrench that was made for turning off the natural on a hook right above the natural gas meter.

User avatar
FraggleRock
Posts: 135
Joined: Sun Feb 12, 2017 6:50 pm

car?

Post by FraggleRock » Sun Aug 13, 2017 12:21 am

Confused about car.
Do you plan to live in it as your home?
I have a neighbor who lives in his van. He has no other structure to live in. Are you planning to do this?

Jim180
Posts: 314
Joined: Wed Jun 26, 2013 9:47 pm

Re: What home task(s) are worth learning to do yourself?

Post by Jim180 » Sun Aug 13, 2017 12:27 am

Most home repairs can be learned from You Tube videos. I'd study repairs that you know eventually will have to be done. Learning to fix a leaking toilet and replace or fix a leaking faucet are two definite ones.You could learn some appliance repairs but buy a basic multimeter and learn how to use it if you work on appliances. The multimeter will help you pinpoint the problem. Learn something about small engine repair since your mower will probably not start sometime. With car repair learn how to replace the headlight and tail light bulbs since one or more of them will burn out sometime.

Carolina Shagger
Posts: 14
Joined: Mon Aug 10, 2009 5:21 am

Re: What home task(s) are worth learning to do yourself?

Post by Carolina Shagger » Sun Aug 13, 2017 7:31 am

In addition to finding out what electrical breakers feed what outlets, switches, lights, appliances, etc. I would highly recommend determining the location of all GFCI's in the house and all receptacles that are downstream of them. On several occasions I have been called to fix a dead receptacle when the problem was an upstream GFCI that had tripped. And the location of that GFCI was not all that obvious. If the homeowner had know he could have saved himself anexpensive service call.

North Texas Cajun
Posts: 150
Joined: Sun Jul 02, 2017 8:56 am

Re: What home task(s) are worth learning to do yourself?

Post by North Texas Cajun » Sun Aug 13, 2017 7:46 am

I second the comment from Watty. Never do something dangerous. That's easy to say, but it really is smart. You are probably the most important asset for your family. Doing dangerous work to save money puts not just you but also your family's welfare at risk.

mouses
Posts: 2174
Joined: Sat Oct 24, 2015 12:24 am

Re: What home task(s) are worth learning to do yourself?

Post by mouses » Sun Aug 13, 2017 7:48 am

Learn how to shut off the gas.

Learn how to shut off the water.

Learn how to shut off the electricity.

Learn where the circuit breaker box is and how to reset them.

Find out where things like the hot water heater, sump pumps, air conditioning stuff are. If you have chimneys, have them checked out.

When I bought my first house, I did all the yard work (which I like to do), painting, caulking, very minor carpentry and very minor electrical stuff like replacing wall switches with timer wall switches. I did stuff in the garage like putting up pegboard and shelves.

The most ambitious stuff I did was painting the exterior of my house a few times after I saw what a lousy job the painters I hired the first time did. This saves a bundle. I used a long extension ladder to do the walls near the peak of the house. This was perhaps too dangerous, but I was lucky. Also, the house was not too high. Ref the comment above, I would not have done this if I were not a single person.

Plumbing, gas, real electrical stuff, real carpentry, flooring, I leave to professionals. It takes some work and talks with neighbors to find reputable, decent cost, competent workmen.

Other people are more ambitious, but this is my comfort level.

User avatar
FrugalInvestor
Posts: 4421
Joined: Fri Nov 07, 2008 12:20 am

Re: What home task(s) are worth learning to do yourself?

Post by FrugalInvestor » Sun Aug 13, 2017 8:29 am

We have some very reliable handymen in our neighborhood who are trustworthy and will do most jobs for a reasonable price. If I didn't already know how to do many home repair and maintenance tasks (and enjoy doing many of them) I'd probably just hire one of these handymen to do what needs to be done, at least those I didn't really want to do.

However, it's good to know the basics about how things should be done even if you decide to hire them out. Otherwise you can't know whether the person you hire is competent and being honest about what needs to be done. So my recommendation would be to start learning what you have the time and interest to do but also look for someone who is trustworthy and honest to offload the other tasks to. Often times that person can also give you direction on where to go for jobs needing more specialized knowledge or equipment than they possess.
IGNORE the noise! | Our life is frittered away by detail... simplify, simplify. - Henry David Thoreau

BIGal
Posts: 88
Joined: Fri Oct 26, 2012 9:34 pm

Re: What home task(s) are worth learning to do yourself?

Post by BIGal » Sun Aug 13, 2017 12:42 pm

You have an excellent "teacher" right at your fingertips. I use Youtube to show me how to do just about any home project. It doesn't mean that you CAN but it will show you how ..then you decide if you would be comfortable doing it or better served by hiring a professional. Also, I recommend purchasing a label maker to identify key components around the house...not just for your benefit, but for others in case of emergency. Good luck.

azurekep
Posts: 874
Joined: Tue Jun 16, 2015 7:16 pm

Re: What home task(s) are worth learning to do yourself?

Post by azurekep » Sun Aug 13, 2017 3:00 pm

FrugalInvestor wrote:
Sun Aug 13, 2017 8:29 am
We have some very reliable handymen in our neighborhood who are trustworthy and will do most jobs for a reasonable price.
The handymen where I live are expensive and do a subpar job. Our neighborhood has a pact -- if any of us find a good handyman, we pass on that knowledge to the others. So far, none of us have found one.

Case in point:

The house is old and so the closets are old. One door keeps falling off it's track.

A 10-year-old on YouTube showed how to put it back on track in 30 seconds. That worked fine for awhile, but stopped working.

So I cleaned the track thoroughly and that worked for awhile.

Then a handyman was over for some other things. He looked at the closet and said it would be a big job and involve a lot of carpentry. We passed.

Another handyman was over for some other things. He looked at the closet, cleaned the track just like I did, but used a different product. That worked for awhile.

THEN, we happened to mention the closet situation to the housecleaner in casual conversation. She went over to it, figured out what was wrong, bent the metal into a different shape with HER HANDS ( :shock: ) and it's worked ever since.

Moral of the story: Handymen might not be the best option. There's a lot of wisdom in the heads of some of the other people who might work at your house -- gardener, housecleaner, and so on.

YMMV.

User avatar
Watty
Posts: 11314
Joined: Wed Oct 10, 2007 3:55 pm

Re: What home task(s) are worth learning to do yourself?

Post by Watty » Sun Aug 13, 2017 5:06 pm

One more thing. About a year after I had bought my first house was was walking through a store and saw a bunch of furnace air filters on the shelf. The cartoon light bulb went on over my head when I realized, "I probably have some of those in my house." :oops:

I was able to figure out where the air-filter was and change it. About a year later I realized that I actually had two air filters. :D

Many dishwashers and refrigerators also have filters that need to be periodically cleaned or replace too.

If you do not have the manual for something like that you can usually find it on line by Googling the model number.

There will usually be a small metal plate or sticker on appliances with the model number and serial number. This usually will also have a manufacture date which will let you know how old something is and that is a handy thing to check out when you are first looking at a house but have not had it inspected yet. Especially for the furnace, A/C, and water heater. These can sometimes be awkward to read, a simple trick is to take a picture of it with your cell phone then zoom in on the important numbers.

sc9182
Posts: 55
Joined: Wed Aug 17, 2016 7:43 pm

Re: What home task(s) are worth learning to do yourself?

Post by sc9182 » Sun Aug 13, 2017 5:45 pm

Watty wrote:
Sun Aug 13, 2017 5:06 pm
One more thing. About a year after I had bought my first house was was walking through a store and saw a bunch of furnace air filters on the shelf. The cartoon light bulb went on over my head when I realized, "I probably have some of those in my house." :oops:

I was able to figure out where the air-filter was and change it. About a year later I realized that I actually had two air filters. :D

Many dishwashers and refrigerators also have filters that need to be periodically cleaned or replace too.

If you do not have the manual for something like that you can usually find it on line by Googling the model number.

There will usually be a small metal plate or sticker on appliances with the model number and serial number. This usually will also have a manufacture date which will let you know how old something is and that is a handy thing to check out when you are first looking at a house but have not had it inspected yet. Especially for the furnace, A/C, and water heater. These can sometimes be awkward to read, a simple trick is to take a picture of it with your cell phone then zoom in on the important numbers.
Love the wording - making a points flow with ease! I am sure Watty is much more smarter than what seems the simple thought process described!!

Particularly like Watty's point about taking a picture with smartphone and enhance/enlarging it 💡which I've been doing for over 4-5 years extensively!

To add to these items - I catalog (or document in gmail/text file) many items in the house - such as model/serial numbers, filter sizes, replacement parts/orders, recent repairs etc. (One more good point about GFCI points/resets). This in-a-way the CHART of this particular house (as in medical terminology). A small scheduling sheet near sprinkler-conter - regarding lawn's seasonal feed/weed/care schedule. A fresh coat for fence every 3-4 years with semi-transparent deck/fence stain. Occasional replacement of loose/rotting fence posts. Oil garage opener springs, chains.

Fix something simple to do on your own - or else replace with newer/better/smarter/energy-efficient items - when you find'em on sale/discount. Changed leaky/noisy builder dishwasher (with an excellent one on sale for $380), built-in stainless microwave ($180), washer etc on own, with better/highly-rated models. Nest and LED-lighting, and timers for porch lights and couple of other places. Once a smoke alarm battery low-alarm sounds., replace 9V batteries for ALL units if they are 2+ years old.

Life's on cruise-control.

IMO
Posts: 176
Joined: Fri May 05, 2017 6:01 pm

Re: What home task(s) are worth learning to do yourself?

Post by IMO » Sun Aug 13, 2017 5:57 pm

I agree with the thought of learning about things via youtube and online information as necessary.
Some things you'll feel you're okay doing, others you will still want to hire out (i.e. electrical: maybe you're fine replacing outlets/switches after learning, but are you personally comfortable working on the circuit panel itself?).

There is significant value to have an understanding about the problem so that when you do call someone, you demonstrate knowledge about the problem/issue and are probably less likely to be taken advantage of by a less than fully ethical service person.

LandOLakes
Posts: 24
Joined: Tue Feb 16, 2016 11:03 pm

Re: What home task(s) are worth learning to do yourself?

Post by LandOLakes » Sun Aug 13, 2017 7:17 pm

Thanks, everybody. Illuminating and interesting replies as always! Part of me is sort of looking forward to getting a little more capable around the house (a feeling I'm sure will quickly fade once the first big repair jobs pops up).

To the fellow who asked, unless things go very very badly during the housing search I hope not to end up living in my car. I just threw that on there because it's another area where I feel like a bit of rudimentary knowledge could go a long way.

User avatar
F150HD
Posts: 1061
Joined: Fri Sep 18, 2015 7:49 pm

Re: What home task(s) are worth learning to do yourself?

Post by F150HD » Sun Aug 13, 2017 10:37 pm

LandOLakes wrote:
Sat Aug 12, 2017 3:28 pm
should I try to learn some basics about plumbing?
IMO you'll have no choice- replacing a faucet or leaky o-ring, putting in a new light switch etc. most learned as you go.

Plan 'big' projects a year out so you have time to learn the skill and buy items on sale.

(Painting- I did my entire downstairs in July, found all paint I needed 1/2 off just before July 4th in a big 'sale'. )

Replacing fuse boxes or a furnace (w/ gas lines), some things best left to a professional. Simple troubleshooting not an issue, but...

LeeInTN
Posts: 148
Joined: Sun Mar 04, 2007 12:58 pm

Re: What home task(s) are worth learning to do yourself?

Post by LeeInTN » Mon Aug 14, 2017 1:12 pm

We've saved a bundle by obtaining a DIY chimney sweep system. The spinner-thingy that has attachable extensions you attach to your drill. Works great on our 24 foot chimney.

Jonathan
Posts: 350
Joined: Tue Apr 30, 2013 5:36 pm

Re: What home task(s) are worth learning to do yourself?

Post by Jonathan » Mon Aug 14, 2017 1:22 pm

EVERY HOMEOWNER SHOULD KNOW:

1. Gas shutoff.
2. Water shutoff.
3. Electricity shutoff.

Be wary of the mindset by which you learn something fairly, and thus save the cost of outsourcing that job fairly. Really you want to know a little of everything, so that an unscrupulous contractor can't hustle you, and so that you can roughly assess the quality of a job and its value. So, instead of say: "learning plumbing", you might want to learn: "how not to get ripped off over plumbing jobs".

Of course, none of this matters if you have access to excellent, honest contractors. :wink:

pennywise
Posts: 298
Joined: Sat May 31, 2014 6:22 am

Re: What home task(s) are worth learning to do yourself?

Post by pennywise » Mon Aug 14, 2017 2:01 pm

I think painting, especially interior painting, is a good gateway activity to becoming adept at a home task. The risk of harming yourself or screwing up your house badly is low, the positive reinforcement is high since results are very visible and pleasing.

However as others have said it's a very personal decision; some people abhor painting due to the mess, and some (like me) end up loving the zen feeling of quietly covering walls or trim with a coat of paint and seeing a quick and very obvious improvement in one's environment.

User avatar
DaftInvestor
Posts: 2947
Joined: Wed Feb 19, 2014 10:11 am

Re: What home task(s) are worth learning to do yourself?

Post by DaftInvestor » Mon Aug 14, 2017 2:09 pm

In addition to all the maintenance items folks are talking about - there are people who go to the extreme and do almost nothing themselves.
Some people don't like cleaning so hire a cleaning service.
Some people don't like cooking - so order ready-made meals or always eat out.

You need to decide what you are comfortable doing, what you hate doing, what you enjoy doing, how much extra time you feel you have, and how much you feel you can afford and make the trade-offs.

One year I hired a lawn service - it was much cheaper than I thought and saved me 1 to 2 hours a week. But then I hated the way they cut my lawn, realized I didn't mind doing it, so let them go and went back to doing it myself.
We used to do all our own interior and exterior painting. As we got older I became less comfortable with getting up on a ladder up on the house and time became more valuable so started hiring exterior painter (and gutter cleaners) but continued to do the interior painting. But then recently we hired an interior painter as well. Time just became more important than the money to get the job done. One of my neighbors 20 years ago told me he doesn't believe in hiring someone to do things he can do himself. He changed his view after a few years of home-ownership.

User avatar
sunny_socal
Posts: 1178
Joined: Tue Mar 24, 2015 4:22 pm

Re: What home task(s) are worth learning to do yourself?

Post by sunny_socal » Mon Aug 14, 2017 3:10 pm

I'll attempt almost anything, I just ask myself a few questions:
- How much time do I have?
- What's the worst case scenario if I mess up?
- When am I doing this? Is it time sensitive? (Is it the weekend?)
- Does the appearance of the repair/upgrade matter?
- Am I sufficiently fit to do this job? (ie. how much joint pain can I deal with the next morning :| )

I'll only attempt something like soldering a copper water pipe 1st in the morning, thus allowing time to call pro if things go sideways. Electrical work can often done to 95% completion before even touching a live wire and then only the final connection remains. For certain things I'll use a pro although I could technically do it myself (interior drywall mud, pouring concrete, most masonry.)

I'm painting my house right now. I've done a whole house over a weekend before by using a rented paint sprayer. It's fast but it's messy. This time I decided to skip the masking and I'm doing the entire house with a brush & roller. It's taking forever but it looks good. I'm probably saving $5k via DIY.

Landscaping is another are where I do almost everything. I know a landscape designer who helps me pick plants and do high level planning for $100/hr. I'm ok with taking a few years to execute those plans rather than hiring some else to do it, I've saved tens of thousands this way. Landscaping isn't cheap, there's a lot of labor involved. Time == Money.

My pro tip: buy the Home Depot DIY books, they make everything look simple!

psteinx
Posts: 2608
Joined: Tue Mar 13, 2007 2:24 pm

Re: What home task(s) are worth learning to do yourself?

Post by psteinx » Mon Aug 14, 2017 3:50 pm

Like a lot of other tasks, it's personal. Hard to come up with universal rules.

As a comparison: Cooking...
Some people enjoy cooking. Some are good at it. Some are both (or neither). The amount a household cooks, versus using simple packaged options or restaurants (dine-in or carry out) will depend on financial situation AND interest AND skill.

So, you perhaps haven't done much housework before. You'll want to experiment and see where your level of interest and aptitude falls. (Just as many folks have relatively little experience with cooking until circa age 20, then experiment/learn thereafter...)

As others have mentioned, learn how to deal with emergency situations (shutoffs and the like for electricity, plumbing, etc.), and very basic filter replacement and the like.

Then, roughly in order, I would suggest:
* Trying to deal with the yardwork yourself. You'll likely need a lawnmower, maybe some edging tools, etc...
* Some VERY basic carpentry - putting up pictures, fixing loose knobs, etc. You'll need a basic toolset (hammer, screwdrivers, probably a simple drill), and consider a studfinder...
* Painting. You'll need brushes and paint, plus perhaps roller utensils, masking tape and a ladder. I think a lot of folks, including myself, find a moderate amount of painting to be kinda fun and rewarding - it has a large amount of visual payoff to effort invested. Be careful about heights...

From there, you'll get a sense of your interest and ability level, and either grow into more complex tasks, or not...

ddurrett896
Posts: 642
Joined: Wed Nov 05, 2014 3:23 pm

Re: What home task(s) are worth learning to do yourself?

Post by ddurrett896 » Mon Aug 14, 2017 4:28 pm

denovo wrote:
Sat Aug 12, 2017 3:42 pm
jebmke wrote:
Sat Aug 12, 2017 3:41 pm
I highly recommend knowing where the water shutoff is. This is something you should "learn" even before a problem crops up.

+1
Also a tube cutter ($10) and a couple shark bite caps. Having the water off is great, but being able to cap the problem and turn water back on beats waiting on a plumber.

mmarreco
Posts: 159
Joined: Sun Jun 02, 2013 4:54 pm

Re: What home task(s) are worth learning to do yourself?

Post by mmarreco » Mon Aug 14, 2017 6:14 pm

Not sure if it has been mentioned but with a home you will likely have a garage and room to to your own maintenance on your vehicles. That can save you a lot of money - even easy stuff like oil, filter, belt changes, brake jobs accumulate over time plus you save time by not having to drive and wait at shops. Keep an eye for sales and start building a good collection of tools.

bluebolt
Posts: 542
Joined: Sat Jan 14, 2017 9:01 am

Re: What home task(s) are worth learning to do yourself?

Post by bluebolt » Tue Aug 15, 2017 7:36 am

sunny_socal wrote:
Mon Aug 14, 2017 3:10 pm
I'll attempt almost anything, I just ask myself a few questions:
- How much time do I have?
- What's the worst case scenario if I mess up?
- When am I doing this? Is it time sensitive? (Is it the weekend?)
- Does the appearance of the repair/upgrade matter?
- Am I sufficiently fit to do this job? (ie. how much joint pain can I deal with the next morning :| )

I'll only attempt something like soldering a copper water pipe 1st in the morning, thus allowing time to call pro if things go sideways. Electrical work can often done to 95% completion before even touching a live wire and then only the final connection remains. For certain things I'll use a pro although I could technically do it myself (interior drywall mud, pouring concrete, most masonry.)

I'm painting my house right now. I've done a whole house over a weekend before by using a rented paint sprayer. It's fast but it's messy. This time I decided to skip the masking and I'm doing the entire house with a brush & roller. It's taking forever but it looks good. I'm probably saving $5k via DIY.

Landscaping is another are where I do almost everything. I know a landscape designer who helps me pick plants and do high level planning for $100/hr. I'm ok with taking a few years to execute those plans rather than hiring some else to do it, I've saved tens of thousands this way. Landscaping isn't cheap, there's a lot of labor involved. Time == Money.

My pro tip: buy the Home Depot DIY books, they make everything look simple!
This is a good list to evaluate whether to do a job. I would also add:
- Is this something that I want to learn or do I enjoy doing it?

michaeljc70
Posts: 1823
Joined: Thu Oct 15, 2015 3:53 pm

Re: What home task(s) are worth learning to do yourself?

Post by michaeljc70 » Tue Aug 15, 2017 11:59 am

If you have the time, it is good to at least know how to do things. It helps even if you do decide to hire it out in the future so you aren't taken advantage of and know good questions to ask to differentiate between a pro and amateur. You can also look in on the progress to see if things "behind the scenes" are being done properly or corners are being cut. People think hiring it out to a "pro" means the work will always be exceptional, and it isn't.

I've learned through online and just doing stuff pretty much everything. Depending on my time and patience, I still do some stuff myself and hire out on occasion. I recently redid a master bath. I hired out the tiling and drywall repair while doing the demo, electrical, plumbing, new fan, etc.

Another thing is, depending where you live and the size of a project, it isn't always easy getting people at a reasonable price. Most contractors don't want small jobs. Where I live (big city) if you call 5 contractors you are lucky if 3 show up to look at the project and 1 gets back to you with a quote.

As to what to learn, I would try and learn as the projects come up. It is better to learn on a "planned" project (changing out a faucet, installing a new light) vs. an "emergency" project (water shooting out under the sink).

User avatar
Elsebet
Posts: 378
Joined: Mon Feb 08, 2016 2:28 pm
Location: Washington state

Re: What home task(s) are worth learning to do yourself?

Post by Elsebet » Tue Aug 15, 2017 3:00 pm

LeeInTN wrote:
Mon Aug 14, 2017 1:12 pm
We've saved a bundle by obtaining a DIY chimney sweep system. The spinner-thingy that has attachable extensions you attach to your drill. Works great on our 24 foot chimney.
Would you please post a link to which one you purchased? We do our own wood stove chimney sweeping and we just use regular rods/brush and creosote remover regularly. I did google but am interested in which one you specifically purchased since you say it works great.

JBTX
Posts: 1255
Joined: Wed Jul 26, 2017 12:46 pm

Re: What home task(s) are worth learning to do yourself?

Post by JBTX » Wed Aug 16, 2017 12:17 am

I've never been a big DIY guy on home stuff. I do my own mowing and yard work. Mostly for the exercise. Most of the rest of the stuff I contract out unless it is very simple.

One fairly easy and useful task is clean your outside AC coils.

Maya1234
Posts: 41
Joined: Mon Jun 19, 2017 11:10 pm

Re: What home task(s) are worth learning to do yourself?

Post by Maya1234 » Wed Aug 16, 2017 10:40 am

For us. Nothing. I have a good friend who works with contractor /repair people every day and she steers us to the right people to do things for us. Have used same lawn service for 25 years. Same snow plow service for 20. For us, this is what money is for: making our lives easier.

neilpilot
Posts: 940
Joined: Fri Dec 04, 2015 1:46 pm
Location: Memphis area

Re: What home task(s) are worth learning to do yourself?

Post by neilpilot » Wed Aug 16, 2017 8:33 pm

I live in a gated community where few of the residents do their own lawn care. I'm one of the few. Last month my neighbor commented that if he stopped paying for lawn service and did the work himself, he'd likely also get sufficient exercise to drop his gym membership.

JBTX
Posts: 1255
Joined: Wed Jul 26, 2017 12:46 pm

Re: What home task(s) are worth learning to do yourself?

Post by JBTX » Wed Aug 16, 2017 8:51 pm

neilpilot wrote:
Wed Aug 16, 2017 8:33 pm
I live in a gated community where few of the residents do their own lawn care. I'm one of the few. Last month my neighbor commented that if he stopped paying for lawn service and did the work himself, he'd likely also get sufficient exercise to drop his gym membership.
This is main reason I haven't outsourced this. I don't particularly enjoy it, especially in dead of summer. There are times when this is one of the few times a week I get decent exercise. We have a decent size lawn and some inclines.

User avatar
Geneyus
Posts: 201
Joined: Fri Jan 01, 2016 11:49 pm

Re: What home task(s) are worth learning to do yourself?

Post by Geneyus » Sat Aug 19, 2017 9:54 pm

If this is your first home, or you don't know what maintenance a house requires, I would recommend a book like the one below. Doing simple maintenance like changing A/C filters every 3 months and cleaning outside A/C coils with the water hose every season can greatly reduce your longterm costs. Many people don't do basic maintenance on their home, until it becomes a more costly project.

You can find books like this on Amazon. Just read the reviews to see which ones people learned the most from.
Image

Post Reply