Whether you’re getting ready to sell your house or just need to do routine repairs and maintenance, you can save a lot of money by doing the repairs yourself. But there are times you need an experienced repair person. Not having the right tools and not having the right experience are the two biggest reasons why people don’t make timely repairs and perform maintenance. That leads to the even bigger problem of allowing the worklist to become dauntingly overwhelming and for a home to fall into disrepair.
You and your family live in your house full-time. You shower, you cook, you open and close doors and windows, and it rains and freezes the exterior of your home. At some time, almost every part of your home wears out, breaks, or needs maintenance. Many homeowners who work all week try to make a habit of spending a couple of hours on Saturday mornings doing a little upkeep around the house. That’s a good habit to have.
Everyone should at least have a basic toolbox. If you’re starting to think about the upcoming holidays, basic toolboxes make great Christmas presents for people that don’t even think they need a toolbox. I made a present of a basic toolbox to my stepdaughter the year she went away to college. Same thing for my niece. When my sister got divorced, I bought her a toolbox. When my father passed away, most of his tools were worn out so I bought my mother a new basic toolbox. All of these women told me they didn’t know how to use tools. I told them that when a friend came around their place who did know how to use tools at least they would have tools to make simple repairs. Eventually, they thanked me and said that they had learned to use basic tools. I’m not picking on women. It’s just a fact of life in my family.
You can buy a basic toolbox at any hardware store for less than $100. It should be on your necessities list when buying your first home. After that, you can slowly add to it. The first time you repair your deck, you might need to purchase a circular saw and a chalk line. But you will already have the hammer and you then have a saw for every carpentry job for many years to come. The first time you have a leaky faucet, you might need to buy a specialty basin wrench. But when you gain the confidence to replace a bathroom vanity, you’ll still have that basin wrench.
You’ll be surprised how many home repairs can be done with little or no experience. YouTube is a great teacher. There isn’t a home repair you’ll ever need to make that doesn’t have several online videos to show you how to do it and what tools you’ll need. Watch three or four of these to find one that is most appropriate for the task you’re trying to accomplish. The first time I did a major roof repair, I checked it out online so that I wouldn’t make a dumb mistake.
Always be sure to do research on anything you don't understand, particularly if you're dealing with electricity, which can be extremely hazardous. While water isn’t as dangerous as electricity, it can do a lot of damage if you don’t do it correctly. Make sure you know how to turn off the main water supply to your home before you open an interior waterline.
There will probably be some tasks needing to be done that requires more experience than you’ve acquired or you simply might not have the time or you might not want to purchase an expensive specialty tool. Keep in mind that you can rent expensive specialty tools. Still, there will likely be a time when you want someone else with experience to do the job.
You seldom need a general contractor unless you’re doing a remodel. Hiring a handyman can be an economical choice because most only charge for hours worked. Plus, they keep their rates low with less overhead and by not having to pay other workers. A handyman is more likely to have the specialty tool you don’t have, or he/she knows where to rent it.
Most handyman work is relatively simple. It can be simple carpentry work or painting. It doesn't typically involve major construction or expansion of the home. When you’re planning to do more extensive work, you should consider a contractor. Contractors supervise specialized tradespeople such as plumbers, electricians, and craftsmen. Handymen are Jacks-Of-All-Trades.
Before you hire a handyman or a contractor, make a list of the jobs you need to have done. If your list is composed mostly of repairs and some updating like painting, a handyman should suit your needs.
What you don't want to do is leave small repairs undone. Your “To Do List” will become intimidatingly long. Or if you’re preparing to sell, home buyers notice when maintenance has been ignored. They may conclude the home needs more repairs than it actually does. I once considered purchasing a house at full price that needed a new furnace, but the seller refused to make the repair. I assumed he refused to do other repairs. It cost him the sale.
Please comment below with your DIY and handyman experiences.