3 DIY Projects Worth Doing Yourself


They say time is money for a reason: Time is as much of a commodity as cash, so if you find yourself working on your sink all weekend, you should reevaluate whether it's actually worth your time to do the fix yourself.

There's also the potential expense of fixing your non-handyman mistakes to consider as well. If you’re under that sink and rip out the wrong pipe, flood damages can run into the high four figures.

As a rule, ask yourself "if I take the project, will I hurt myself and my bank account?” If the answer is yes, or even "possibly", you may be wiser to hire a professional. Considering the risks and rewards of such projects, here are some household tasks you probably should not tackle on your own:

  • Anything that involves complicated electrical wiring.
  • Any project that has you under a car or a house.
  • Any roof work. Such a task can lead to injury or even death.
  • Any home project that puts you on a scaffold.
  • Extensive plumbing work.
  • Snow shoveling, especially if you’re up in age or have heart problems.

That said, there are some tasks people pay professionals for that can easily be done on your own. Here are a few, along with some tips to get the job done:

  • Seeding your own lawn – Homeowners love a plush, green lawn, but often pay hundreds of dollars to have theirs professionally seeded. The truth is, anyone can do it. The key is buying the right seed  - ask for shade-loving seed at your local lawn and garden store. It helps to “loosen” the soil by raking it beforehand, making sure to rid your lawn of any rocks and weeds that might disrupt good lawn growth. You can also rent a roto-tiller to really loosen up the soil. It can cost $200 or so to have a landscaper seed a 2,000 square-foot lawn, so you can save a lot of money by doing it yourself.
  • Painting your home's interior – Professional painters charge top dollar to paint your home. That’s fine for outside the house – you don’t want to be 35 feet up a ladder if you’re not used to working like that. But inside is a different story. For $25 or $30, you can buy a good can of paint to give a room a bright new life. Get going at your local home improvement store with some samples, then bring them home for a patch test. Be sure to examine them at different times of day to see how they look in varying light conditions. Opt for a lighter shade than you may like, because paint looks darker once it goes on a wall. Cover your floor with canvas so you don’t spill any paint on the rug or on a hardwood floor, then turn on your favorite radio station or put a ball game on in the background and get to work.
  • Clean your own carpets – Families with kids know how easy it is for carpets to take a severe soiling from dirty sneakers, spilled bowls of Spaghetti O’s, or the odd cup of orange juice tipped over on your floor. No worries, you can clean your home’s carpeting yourself and save plenty of dough in the process. Your first step is to get down to your favorite home store and rent your own power cleaner. Home Depot (Stock Quote: HD) has them for $25 a day. If you haven’t used a power cleaner before, they’re not as bulky as you might think. Most are lightweight and easy to move around. Get some help moving heavy furniture though – you don’t want to pull a muscle by lifting a couch on your own.

Not all home jobs should be handled by the average homeowner. For help with more complicated and potentially dangerous projects, hire a professional.

Don't worry about people thinking you have no handyman (or -woman) skills - just tell them you've done a risk-reward analysis and concluded that your time is better spent reading the newspaper or taking your kids to soccer practice. You may lose some handyman cred, but you will surely gain respect for your financial savvy.

—For the best rates on loans, bank accounts and credit cards, enter your ZIP code at BankingMyWay.com.

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