You have to start somewhere. And you saved a bundle by not having a plumber come and do it for you.
I've done a ton of large and small projects over the past forty years. Early on, it was DIY or do without. Here's a short list of a few things I've done:
~changed out numerous faucets and drains.
~wired my double garage from scratch and passed inspection on the first try.
~built numerous decks, porches, and steps.
~gutted a bathroom to the studs and did a complete remodel, essentially by myself, which included all new plumbing, wiring, Sheetrock, subfloor, tile work, and lots of other tasks.
~repaired numerous appliances.
~painted lots of stuff.
~repurposed too much stuff to mention.
~installed wall shelf in camper, making the entire camper more efficient to use.
~did many, many modifications to camper that made it all more workable. (I consider our camper a part of our home.)
~built AARs (Add A Rooms) for two previous campers, and have a cabana to alter for the current one come spring.
~refurbished many items to prevent having to replace them or buy other, more expensive items.
~installed windows and doors.
~built a much-needed custom rack for cast iron cookware and other cookware.
~laid various types of flooring.
~cut countertop and installed sink for our kitchen remodel.
~installed cabinets for that job and others.
~built and installed floor to ceiling storage rack in my sewing room and then created a storage system using plastic pails for assorted sewing notions.
~built an 8x5 shelving unit from a couple of old waterbed frames to house my cookbook collection and provide shoe storage.
~customized a stock wall cabinet to use for storage over the toilet.
~opened up the wall above a closet which was just wasted space and added shelving to increase storage. Still need to add a door and finish trim work.
~planned and built framing and skirting for our 64x28 house.
~changed or repaired ceiling lights and fans.
~installed dog doors in walls and doors.
~built a cat door that goes in the patio door leading to our screen porch, using a leftover framework from a waterbed drawer base.
~installed all the screening in the screen porch.
~installed curtain rods of different types in various places.
~removed and adjusted outside door so mice could no longer get in.
~installed new electrical circuits for this and that, such as a dedicated circuit for the microwave.
~installed every water heater we've ever had to replace in the past 40 years except the last one.
I can't look around any room in our place where I haven't done some kind of repair, improvement, organization system, or other work.
I've done all this stuff and lots more, but I'm getting older now and paying to have people do some of this stuff has become very appealing. I have a bathroom vanity sitting here waiting for installation, and I plan to hire someone. I have nothing to prove and plenty else to do, so I'll be happy to pay a plumber.
I actually like doing stuff like this and have always loved the challenge, and that's why I've done it for so many years, even though we can afford to hire people now.
Everyone loves that rack, especially my fellow cast iron aficionados. It was actually quite simple to build and only cost me about $35. I plan to rebuild it at some point, as my needs have changed and that bottom shelf with the Corningware on it was never meant for that purpose, and it's not quite the right height. Still, it works.
I've already informed Husby that if/when we move out of this place, I will not buy a house that doesn't have a space for a pot rack. It's way too convenient not to have to move a big stack of heavy iron off a cabinet shelf to get the bottom one, not to mention the space all that hardware would take up in cabinets.
My husband isn't handy either, so I figured way back when that one of us had to be. He's a great assistant though and very willing to help when I need it, and if something calls for brute force, he's my go-to!
Talk to me about vinyl planks. Have they held up well for you? Are they waterproof? I'm looking for something for bathrooms and the kitchen, and it has to stand up to all the grit that gets tracked in here and also be able to tolerate the snow and stuff that gets tracked in and also water from stepping out of the shower and pet mistakes and stuff like that. I'd like something that looks like plank flooring but is easy to install.
Thanks, Winkie. That's a beautiful floor. I know all about the domestic disputes! LOL. But all's well that ends well and I'm glad you're still married.
You're a lot like me, Russ. I figure if something's already broken, I don't have much to lose by trying to fix it. If I manage to fix it, it's money in the bank. If I end up having to call someone else to fix it, I'd have had to do that anyway so no loss there. My grandma, who was born in 1888 and taught me there wasn't men's work or women's work, there's just work, taught me that.
When we have hired contractors over the years, I've been all up in their business the whole time they were working for us. I can't begin to quantify the excellent education I've gotten from them. I learned so much about construction and wiring especially, just watching people work for me and asking all sorts of questions. It drove some of them nuts. Most of them were happy to help. One of our contractors even came out on a Saturday on his own time to help me learn how to frame a deck, and then refused to accept any payment because he said he enjoyed teaching people.
It's been the same for me over the years, Brat, not being able to have the things we needed unless I could DIY them. Even now that we have more money, a lot of what I want can't be bought anywhere, so I still DIY to get what I want.
A big part of doing all this stuff in my case is because I believe in an ancient concept called equality through reciprocity. If I didn't do all the fixing and building I do, our cost of living would be much higher, and/or we would simply have to do without things we really need or enjoy, like the big deck I designed and we built ourselves. And the $4,000 or so we saved in labor can then be applied directly to the new roof we had to hire a crew to do last year. If I had a low-paying job which is what's available where we live, I would have had to earn at least $6,000 to pay for someone to build that deck (plus materials) because taxes and SSI would have been taken from my earnings, whereas the gain from not hiring contractors is non-taxable. It's a big fat win all the away around.
I also save big by being able to buy things on the cheap, or salvage them, and then fix them into something nice instead of buying them. One thing I've done recently is buy an antique sewing machine cabinet for $5 at a garage sale. It was in pretty bad shape but I knew I could rehab it into the plant stand I needed for my office. So I did. Here's the before and after. I like it a lot, and I'm happy to have something unique and interesting rather than some cheapo particle board thing from a big box store. What could I have bought for $5 anyway? This started out as a mess, peeling veneer, broken front tip-out, lots of water damage. And it was filthy.
Here's the improved version, some of the ruined veneer peeled off, the rest of the peeling veneer reglued, tip-out repaired, new paint, and a crackle finish. And massive amounts of cleaning on the steel frame.
Stuff like that isn't a home repair, but for me it's all part of the same package and more frugal habits learned over a lifetime.
I'm not always successful when I try to rehab or repair something or build it from scratch. But I'd say I'm successful at least 98% of the time, and IMO that's a pretty good average. It might not be done quickly and it might not be pretty when it's done, but I can almost always do something serviceable and visually acceptable.
Brat, what you said, and I would add "repurpose" to that list. I'm always using something for what it was never intended to be used for. Love that.
TDN, that's very lucky to have your husband's skills. No doubt he learned a lot from his dad, including the most important thing any DIYer can have, the confidence to try. I think a lot of people, like my husband, could do a lot of DIY stuff but weren't raised with anyone believing they were capable of figuring things out.
I hesitate to post pics on this thread because most of them would be stuff I've already posted. And most of them would also not be home repairs, but repurposes and smaller projects. I'm sure people are sick of seeing the same stuff from me.
We almost bought a second house last winter and knew we'd want a microwave for it. But we didn't want to pay for one. It occurred to me a lot of people don't know microwaves have fuses in them and when the fuses blow, they are dead. But the hardware store sells replacement fuses. We can salvage things from our local recycling place so we picked out the two newest micros we could find in the pile. Then we stopped at the hardware store on the way home and bought a two-pack of fuses for $4. The first micro was really dead, so we re-recycled that (free). The second one came right back on and has been working great ever since. It was barely dirty so I cleaned that up and sanitized it in about fifteen minutes. We estimated we saved about $100 because it's a nice micro.
I don't DIY everything, either, Ayanka. I'm looking for an electrician to finish a job that another electrician started and then went out of business before the job was finished. It's tough because no one wants to mess with something someone else started. I'll admit I tried to finish it but they did something with the light switches I don't understand at all, and the master electrician who came to look at it said she didn't understand it, either. That made me feel better but not as good as if the job had gotten done.
A forum community dedicated to the frugal lifestyle and the enthusiasts. Come join the discussion about simple and green living, cost effective tips, life hacks, debt reduction, recycling, gardening, other homesteading techniques, and more!