You’d love to get props for your upholstered headboard/family room built-ins/kitchen pendant lights, but the truth is you’re too busy outsourcing to even reach for the toolbox. Your carpenter’s thumb is itching for some action, but your instinct is to listen to the critic within. The one who remembers the DIY disasters even better than the baby’s milestones.
Try, try again.
We wrote this renovation CRUNCH a few weeks ago where we mentioned our handy dandy Engineering backgrounds. Yup, we saw the eye-rolls and heard the tongue-clicks from those of you who maybe didn’t spend a combined ten years and hundred grand so that one day you’d be able to DIY a money-saving chunk of a major reno. But before you stop reading and start searching for your next plumber/mechanic/Handy Manny, we want to let you in on a little secret: we have no idea what we’re doing. Time and money well spent, no?
Here’s some of the projects we’ve tackled over the last decade or so of home ownership:
- Painting. Walls, furniture, floors, bathtubs… you name it, we’ve painted it.
- Upgrading light fixtures. With an existing electrical box this typically means three wires, some screws, and maybe half an hour of “work”.
- Sewing roman shades and curtains for ALL of the windows in our first home. Yup, it was a little painful to leave them behind. But it helped that our new home came with windows dressed à la Pottery Barn drapery.
- Plumbing biz like changing out a shower head and taking apart a clogged drain. Gunky and gross but so, so easy.
- A deck. A fence. A tree fort for the kiddos. Wood can be addictive.
- Backsplashing up the kitchen. Booyah cooking splatters!
- Garage grease-monkeying like oil changes and popping out our own dents. Let’s just say that one of us doesn’t always have the best judgment when parking our car and the bumper’s had more than a few crunches of its own.
Do you notice how none of those things has anything to do with our technical backgrounds? But you know what they all have in common? They’re not difficult, but they can be time consuming and they cost a ridiculous amount of money when you pay someone else to do them for you.
There are four things you need to DIY like a pro:
- Tools. It definitely makes any job MUCH easier if you have the right tool. This doesn’t mean you have to go hand over your wallet every time you want to break out beyond your standard screwdriver, simply that you need to figure out which neighbours don’t mind sharing (and, ya know, return the favour).
- Knowledge. It’s power peeps. We typically have no idea what we’re getting into at the start, but we don’t dive in headfirst without a clue. It’s all about research and then trial and error. Our dishwasher, which has pretty much been a lemon since day one, totally ticked us off recently when we opened it up post-run and discovered a few inches of water sitting on the bottom. We fiddled around with the food trap and the buttons… no dice. Since an “expert” wanted to charge two hundred bucks to take a look (a look, mind you, not even a fix), we turned to our fave researching tool: Google. Which led us to YouTube, a clogged drain hose, and a fully-functioning dishwasher. Yay! If Google hadn’t delivered (and, really, when does it not?) we would have asked around and someone we know would have helped. Most people love feeling like pros, so don’t be afraid to ask someone who’s been tinkering a little longer than yourself.
- Common sense. And by this, we mean, stay safe. Turn off the fuses/water/gas and definitely don’t let the baby crawl around your construction zone.
- Confidence. What’s the worst that can happen? If we couldn’t fix the dishwasher, we would have wasted some time, but we’d still be in the same boat. Even if we messed it up even more, the worst case would be we have to buy a new one. So yeah, that would kinda suck. But paying that expert to fix it every time the hose clogs would add up to the cost of a new dishwasher soon enough. Did we mention it’s only two years old?
We toyed with the idea of finishing our basement ourselves once it’s dug out. But, let’s keep it real guys, right now it looks like this:
And we’d like to get back to doing some more of this:
Preferably before winter. Or at least before our munchkins are teenagers (which is about when we’d finally wrap it up if we were the ones installing the drywall/floors/bathroom). Hiring a contractor, here we come!
Choosing to do it yourself when it makes sense can save you tons of moolah and give you a healthy dose of self-confidence. Which is handy when you’re spending all your moolah on your kiddos and they’re totally draining your self-confidence. The best way to gain knowledge is through experience, so go ahead and test out your skilsaw skillz if you feel trigger happy. Just make sure you measure twice to cut once and maybe start in a spot that won’t be too visible after you’re done.
Email us if you want to know our dishwasher faux pas… it was kinda ironic considering it was the day of a major storm and our basement did not get flooded. No biggie though, all’s well that ends well!