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DIY home projects can be fun, help you learn new skills and give your home a new look – all while saving significant money. According to data from the US Census Bureau’s 2019 American Housing Survey, the cost of hiring a professional to renovate and repair homes is at least double, and sometimes triple or even quadruple the cost of doing it yourself. . But where do you start if you’ve never done a DIY project and can’t tell a hawk from a handsaw?
The key is to start small and build trust slowly. Here are five DIY projects for beginners — roughly ranked in order of skill required — that are relatively easy, affordable, and even enjoyable.
Paint a room
- Why it’s ideal for DIY beginners: Painting a room is arguably the easiest and most affordable of all home improvement projects, not to mention the easiest way to give any room a facelift. Unlike some other DIY projects, you can’t go too wrong with paint. If you don’t like the result, just start over.
- What you need: You don’t need too many tools to paint a room, but you do want to invest in a quality brush set, roller and pan, and cleaning equipment. A wall paint kit can be purchased at the department store for as little as $20. Depending on the type and quality of the paint, a gallon can set you back $20 to $100.
- What you save: Painting a room yourself will cost you between $1 and $3 per square foot, which is nearly half the cost of a professional. You will also need a minimum of two gallons of paint; although often recommended, primer is optional if your walls have already been professionally painted and are in reasonably good condition. To save more money, borrow painting tools from friends or neighbors.
- What to pay attention to: A DIY paint job will only work if the walls are in good condition and need no more than a change of color. However, if there are serious stains, corrosion, mold or cracks, hiring a professional may be the wisest step.
Replacing a window screen
- Why it’s ideal for DIY beginners: Whether it’s age, a storm, or a fallen branch, cracked window screens are a common occurrence for any homeowner. But replacing them doesn’t require any specialized skill, or even a lot of strength.
- What you need: A new screen, a flat head screwdriver and a spline roller are all you need to replace a window screen. Plus, these inexpensive tools last forever, so the next time you need to replace another screen, you already have the equipment to hand.
- What you save: Professional window screen replacement or repair costs an average of $306, according to HomeAdvisor. Although labor makes up only about a third of the total tab, it still adds up to more than the $20 to $80 that easy-to-install pre-assembled screens cost.
- What to pay attention to: If your windows are very high and you don’t have the means to reach them safely, or they are an unusual size or shape, consider hiring a professional for the job. Pre-assembled screens only fit standard size windows.
- Why it’s ideal for DIY beginners: Refreshing dirty or moldy-looking seals around the shower, tub or sink requires only a few tools and no super-specialized training – just a steady hand. The main thing you need to do is remove the existing caulk and then use a caulking gun to lay a new line.
- What you need: The tools needed for resealing the bathroom are a caulking gun, putty knife, scraper, caulk remover and sealant with additives to help prevent mold and mildew.
- What you save: Professional rumination by a handyman can cost $100 to $500 per 125 feet, or $0.15 per linear foot, according to Porch. While you do need to purchase supplies, they will last for years and can be used multiple times if stored properly.
- What to pay attention to: If you use silicone caulk, the smell can be overwhelming and cause irritation and even light-headedness. It generally takes a few hours for the smell to disappear. Don’t forget to invest in gloves: never use sealant with bare hands, as it can cause burns and peel off the skin.
Build a shelf
- Why it’s ideal for DIY beginners: Construction is a more advanced category, admittedly, but as woodworking projects go, building a custom shelf is relatively easy – no complex designs – and so good to start with.
- What you need: Plywood, drill, circular saw, wall anchors, nail guns and studs. If the idea of electric saws sounds scary, you can always have the wood supplier or a hardware store cut the planks for you, based on your specifications. Or even buy ready-made.
- What you save: Cabinetry is a fairly labor-intensive project: According to HomeAdvisor, custom shelving by a professional carpenter can cost as much as $4,000, depending on the type of shelf and materials used. On the other hand, if you are doing odd jobs, you only have material and equipment costs. Plywood comes in cabinet grade and construction grade and is priced per sheet or panel. Cost will depend on the thickness and type of wood you choose, but the average range is about $5 to $40 per sheet. A circular saw costs between $50 and $200 and you can buy several blades separately. A nail gun costs an average of $80 to $300.
- What to pay attention to: Measurement is the keyword here. Be sure to measure the planks properly and mark the spots for brackets or anchors before installing them. Also consider the weight of the items the shelves can hold before you begin; you may need to use the wall studs for support.
Change lighting fixtures
- Why it’s ideal for DIY beginners: If you have the time and a little familiarity with wiring, you can save a lot of labor costs by replacing a ceiling or wall light. As electrical jobs go, this is an easier one because you just plug the fixture into existing wiring and don’t install anything new.
- What you need: Pliers, a 4-in-1 screwdriver, needle-nose pliers, a voltage tester, a wire cutter, a ground screw, electrical tape and a ladder are some of the tools needed. All of these can be easily purchased at a hardware store, if you don’t already have them.
- What you save: Electricians are expensive. A professional light fixture installation can cost an average of $80 per hour or $527 per project, according to HomeAdvisor. Small lights can cost less than $100, but complicated fixtures can cost up to a few thousand dollars.
- What to pay attention to: Of course you know to turn off the power before doing anything. However, working with electricity always entails some risk. If the wires look very frayed or damaged in any way as soon as you expose them, do not attempt this. Make sure the new bulb is the same size as the old one; if it doesn’t fit in the space, don’t try this. And never try to install a fixture in a new place where none existed before. These are all jobs for the licensed professionals.
What it comes down to in DIY projects for beginners
Do-it-yourself jobs at home can save you a lot of money and provide a lot of satisfaction. Beginners, of course, always have a learning curve. But while it’s okay to stretch, you need to know your limitations – especially if it’s a power tool or electrical project – and it’s always wise to know where to draw the line and when to do the stretching. professionals should be involved.