If you’re going to own property, it’s a good idea to develop your DIY-skills. Professional contractors make a lot of money for a good reason. They offer a service that enhances the value, allure, safety and functionality of your property. Actually thinking you should put a price on that contradicts the idea you want your property to last long, be beautiful and to grow in value.
What really gives us thought is how many jobs we give to painters, plumbers, electricians and other craftsmen that we can do ourselves. There are many repairs we hand over to others that do not necessarily require special skill or expensive equipment. And doing it ourselves not only encourages us to develop and improve our skills, doing it ourselves gives us greater reason to enjoy our homes as we invest our personal time and effort into its upkeep.
The following are some DIY projects you probably didn’t know you could easily do yourself, saving money, and adding value and pride to your home.
Replacing Shutoff Valves (Plumbing)
Nothing keeps plumbers busier than leaks. Unexplained running water is a mystery to many homeowners. But seals and moving parts do wear out. One thing we can tell you is if leaks continue even after the main shutoff valve is closed, it may be time to replace the valve. Remove coupling on the water meter’s downstream side and locate the oiled leather sealing washer. Get a replacement leather washer online or at a shop. If you have a gate-style valve, get a threaded ball valve replacement.
You may need to replace flanges with your pipework. If this is the case, use a flange table to gauge sizes.
Replacing an Outlet or Light Switch (Electrical)
The wise layman should be leery of working on electrical systems. But a switch or outlet can be swapped out with a little foreknowledge, a screwdriver, tester, common sense and a new switch or outlet. The first step is to turn power off at the main box, shutting power surging down and eliminating the possibility of shock. That’s the common sense part.
You can find plenty of sensible videos for replacing a light switch, but for the record, here’s the basic breakdown: Find the circuit box and shut off the switch for the section of the house you will be working in, or shut off the entire house. Make sure all occupants know what you’re doing and to not turn power back on. Remove the outlet face plate. Use the tester to ensure power is not running. Remove screws and pull out the outlet or switch. For peace of mind, take a picture of the wiring or mark wires with tape for easy identification. Loosen screws holding wires. Detach and discard damaged switch or outlet. Using the photo or wire labels, attach wires to new outlet or switch. Replace the screws and reinstall face plate. Turn power on and try the new device.
Replacing Windows (Renovation)
This is a two person operation. With a crowbar, take out the entire window casing, including sill plate and trim. You may have to adjust the frame if the new window doesn’t perfectly match. You can add new boards or remove parts of the exterior siding. Keep a one-quarter inch gap all around for insulation and other potential adjustments. Install the new window from outside, pushing the window up until it is flush with the frame. Screw the window in place, anchoring it to a solid piece of wood. Windows need to be square and plum. Once in the the correct position, use screws or nails to secure placement. Add an additional layer of window wrap around the fins, overlapping wrap and covering surfaces without letting wrap fold or crinkle. Insulate with expanding foam sealant in the gap between window and casing. Be careful to not add too much foam. Cover edges with painter’s tape to protect surfaces. After foam dries, scrape excess with a knife. You can now install the interior casing and any trim as needed.
Every DIY project increases the appraised value of the home. More importantly, stepping back, knowing you did the job yourself and probably saved hundreds of dollars will make you appreciate the home more.