5 Do-It-Yourself (DIY) Goals for Homeowners in the New Year

by on Jan 2 2014 - 34 Comments

Painting HomeAs a relatively new homeowner I am constantly prioritizing what home projects need my attention. Can working on the guest bedroom be put off while I work on landscaping? Can adding new outdoor lighting be put off while I invest the money in new flooring? There are constantly trade-offs with every decision homeowners face.

With that being said, today I want to share five Do It Yourself (DIY) goals that you might want to tackle as a homeowner. They can save you money because you don’t have to hire contractors and some, such as the first suggestion I have for you, can save you time down the road.

1) Map your circuits

When I first bought my house I had a number of upgrades to make including installing new light switches, outlets, and changing a couple of light fixtures. One thing that would have been helpful was a map of the circuits in my house. While some had obvious labels, such as ‘Washer’ or ‘Refrigerator’, most others were generic or had no labels at all. Since I was working on so many areas of the house it became easier to know which circuits related to which rooms/lights/outlets in the house, but I (stupidly) did not make a detailed list or map of what outlets and fixtures align with circuits.

I regret not mapping my circuits when I was initially working on projects as I have a fixture to replace and a few outlets left to swap out this year. I will definitely be mapping them this year.

Be EXTRA careful when working with electricity and be sure to double and triple check to make sure that fixtures and outlets are not ‘hot’, or in other words receiving electricity, before working on them. Also, leave the big jobs up to the professionals!

2) Install New Blinds and Drapes

Another story from our home purchase a little over a year ago: we got rid of ALL the blinds/drapes. “Disgusting” is pretty much the only word I have for them other than “outdated.” I took them all down and put in new blinds. The blinds I chose were pretty much the least expensive ones you can find. You’d be shocked at just how inexpensive blinds are at Walmart. I also bought some of them at Home Depot which were also reasonably priced, though slightly higher than Walmart. All you have to do is measure the window, order them, pick them up or have them shipped to your house, and spend some time installing them. You can potentially do an entire house for $100 or less.

I prefer to go a bit cheaper on blinds and spend a bit more on drapes, since drapes add a lot more to a room than blinds. I like the drapes that Ikea sells and would recommend them. They were easy to install but weren’t necessarily the cheapest options. Nevertheless having new drapes can really change a room and are definitely a DIY project versus something more expensive that would require contractors.

3) Paint

Paint can make a huge difference in any room. It’s a relatively inexpensive project that typically requires only a few hours of work, but a fresh coat of paint can transform a room. If you’ve watched House Hunters or other shows where people are looking for new homes you probably have noticed how distracted potential buyers get by the color of paint in a room. If there is a room in your house that you aren’t particularly fond of, consider changing it up by choosing a new paint color. I’m a big fan of neutral grays and browns.

4) Install New Light Fixtures

Yes, I know some leave all the electrical projects to professionals and that is absolutely fine. With that being said, installing new light fixtures can be a DIY project that immediately brightens up your space (no pun intended!). The nice thing about light fixtures is that the hard work is already done; when you add a new one where there previously was no fixture you have to run wires, install a box, etc. Replacing old light fixtures with new ones is easier than you’d think because the wires are already in place.

There is a wide range on quality and cost, so if you want a stunning $300 light fixture for your kitchen you absolutely can find one. On the other hand, light fixtures can be relatively affordable. I found some very reasonably priced ones at Ikea and Home Depot.

See safety warning under #1!

5) Install New Doorknobs

Another story from our home: when we moved in we had old-school doorknobs that likely had never been replaced in the 40 years that our home has been standing. I found installing new doorknobs to be a very easy DIY project and it definitely makes the home feel a bit newer and updated. Updating doorknobs are not the cheapest DIY project, though, as the cost quickly rises depending on the number of doors in your home. Expect to pay at least $50 for a deadbolt+doorknob combo and about $15-$40 for other doors, with keyed doorknobs being more expensive.

What DIY projects have you done for your home or do you hope to do for your home in the future?
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Photo by Karin Dalziel

34 comments
SavvyFinLatina
SavvyFinLatina

My dad came over Christmas break and installed new fixtures and lights. House looks way better. 

Tahnya Kristina
Tahnya Kristina

Oh I am sooooo not a DIY kind of girl.  I'm also only 5 feet tall so painting is out of the question.  I like to be ambitious but it usually doesn't work out.  Last year my biggest DIY step was learning to cook and I think I made some significant improvements - Does cooking qualify as DIY?

MoiAndMoney
MoiAndMoney

We've got a lot of projects, starting with tearing out bathrooms and putting them all back together.  We recently bought some $27 light bulbs for our "can" lights in our kitchen.  They're LED, so we're trying it out. 

PlungedinDebt
PlungedinDebt

We've done a lot of DIY stuff, everything from paint to full wet-bar install. I love a good challenge :)

Charles@gettingarichlife
Charles@gettingarichlife

We had older cabinets in a rental and replaced the door and painted the whole thing that made it look new. That's the extent of my home renovations as I'm not too handy.  Electrical things I definitely stay away from.

DonebyForty
DonebyForty

We put in a new sliding glass door in our living room when we moved in, and it has been begging for a new set of drapes in front for a while now. Thanks for the reminder!

fitisthenewpoor
fitisthenewpoor

I LOVE to paint. I cannot wait to find an apartment that allows us to paint, but we've been unlucky in that department. 

ImpersonalFinance
ImpersonalFinance

Great tips DC.  It's crazy how a couple hundred bucks on things like new doorknobs and light fixtures can really breathe new life into the look of a home, and make it feel much nicer.

BudgetforMore
BudgetforMore

What we would really like to do is a bathroom remodel for our upstairs bathroom. That would probably cost us around 10k to do the whole thing. Right now, student loan payback takes priority. Maybe next year.

Kyle James
Kyle James

All really good DIY projects DC. My latest DIY project was putting in an attic access ladder and plywood for storage in our attic. Made getting in and out of the attic a breeze and the extra storage is AWESOME!

Monicaonmoney
Monicaonmoney

This is perfect timing for me, DC! We just spent a few days painting my condo before starting a DIY stairs project and flooring installations! I literally just posted an article too, I guess we're both thinking about DIY projectis for this year! Good luck with yours :)

Practical Cents
Practical Cents

We did all of these except mapping the circuits. We mapped some but still have others that were not done.  I had  family members help out with installing light fixtures and doorknobs.  We had to replace all of them in our house.  I am pretty good at painting and installing drapes and blinds.  Like you said it can add up quickly so it's always good to shop around.  I went to a local discount store for my drapes and blinds and got some good deals. 

brokeandbeau
brokeandbeau

Paint is totally doable for me.  The others I would need to watch some you tube how-tos to complete.

Matt @ Mom and Dad Money
Matt @ Mom and Dad Money

Never owned a home but these seem pretty doable, even for someone as un-handy as I am. I've been in some places with some pretty GROSS blinds, so that one seems like a good place to start.

blonde_finance
blonde_finance

I think these are all great and "do-able" projects even for someone who is not handy like me. The great thing too, is that they can be done in stages so you can break down the costs over the year. I personally like the mapping the circuits project. Every time we have moved, that was my husband's number one task after moving in. It is free and saves you SO much time down the road when issues arise.

Holly at ClubThrifty
Holly at ClubThrifty

We get possession of our new house on Monday and the first thing we're going to do is paint the entire interior.  We aren't super huge on DIY but painting is one thing that is well within my ability range.

FrugalRules
FrugalRules

We've been putting off doing #4 for a while and just need to get around to doing it now. When our house was built apparently everyone liked cheap looking gold..we'', we don't. :) We've done the doorknobs as well and that is very easy to do. Painting is another great thing to do and relatively simple - we've got to do a bit of that ourselves once we get our master bath finished next month.

DebtChronicles
DebtChronicles

Installing new doorknobs is on my list for our exterior doors....the one leading to our garage is busted - and since they all have the same lock/key combination it would be nice to keep that consistency.  

I also hope to learn how to actually put the comforter back into the duvet without cursing and calling my wife for help.

DC @ Young Adult Money
DC @ Young Adult Money moderator

@PlungedinDebt You HAVE to blog about your wet bar!  Part of our basement used to be a hair salon so there is already plumbing set up for a wet bar ;)

DC @ Young Adult Money
DC @ Young Adult Money moderator

@Charles@gettingarichlife Hmmm I'm definitely intrigued about the cabinet project.  We have older cabinets that we might refinish, but we also don't really like the cabinets to begin with because they aren't created in the most accessible way (in our opinion).  But for a couple in debt from student loans and looking to save/invest more, it may be the best option for us.

DC @ Young Adult Money
DC @ Young Adult Money moderator

@DonebyFortyI'd kill to have two new sliding glass doors in my house.  We have two older ones that let out a lot of heat.  Another thing to add to the list, I suppose ;)

DC @ Young Adult Money
DC @ Young Adult Money moderator

@fitisthenewpoorOur first apartment let us paint and we painted the whole thing.  It looked really nice, but unfortunately we ended up only spending a year there.  Painting it back was not fun!

DC @ Young Adult Money
DC @ Young Adult Money moderator

@ImpersonalFinanceYeah I really like what the new doorknobs did for our house. Most things in the house haven't been updated since the house was built, so adding doorknobs alone gave it a more updated feel.

DC @ Young Adult Money
DC @ Young Adult Money moderator

@BudgetforMore I'm in the same boat. I would love to redo our bathroom, but it's hard to justify when we need new cars, have student loans, etc.  I think we might bite the bullet and at least re-tile and re-finish the bath tub/shower area, or even look for some less expensive DIY options.

DC @ Young Adult Money
DC @ Young Adult Money moderator

@RatherBeShoppingThat does sound pretty awesome.  Our attic access is TERRIBLE.  It's a tiny opening at the top of my closet.  I literally will have to take everything off the top two shelves and cover stuff that's hung up to protect from insulation.  I definitely want to move the access one of these days.

DC @ Young Adult Money
DC @ Young Adult Money moderator

@Raquel@Practical Cents Yeah we spent a lot of money just on the few projects I listed on here.  I did go the cheap route for some light fixtures that I wish I had spent more money on now.  I will probably have to replace them again soon, unfortunately.

DC @ Young Adult Money
DC @ Young Adult Money moderator

@brokeandbeauI'm not gonna lie, I had to watch a couple videos before changing the doorknobs.  Once I did a couple, though, it was a piece of cake!

DC @ Young Adult Money
DC @ Young Adult Money moderator

@Matt @ Mom and Dad MoneyBlinds seem to get dirty really quick so it's nice that there are cheap replacement options.  With that being said, some of the more expensive blinds seem to make a room/house look more upscale.

DC @ Young Adult Money
DC @ Young Adult Money moderator

@blonde_financeI'm still kicking myself for not mapping the circuits when I was doing work on the electrical when we first moved in.  I could have saved myself a couple of hours of work, but instead I'll be spending one of these weekends mapping them out.

DC @ Young Adult Money
DC @ Young Adult Money moderator

@Holly at ClubThriftyPainting is something my wife and I have done quite a bit of, and it's a good thing to DIY unless you are so insanely busy that you need to outsource it.  I have a couple more rooms to paint in our house but I've been putting it off...mainly because one requires taking down wallpaper!

DC @ Young Adult Money
DC @ Young Adult Money moderator

@FrugalRulesI did a whole bunch of this stuff when we first moved in but have done pretty much nothing since Summer.  It's very easy to put things off unless you really 'need' to do them.  My next project is ripping all the wallpaper off the walls in our third bedroom. Then we can finally have a guest bedroom!

DonebyForty
DonebyForty

@DC @ Young Adult Money @DonebyForty Yeah, that list always grows. We had old ones, too and would have left them, except the door actually started falling apart when opening. Replacing was not as cheap as we thought it would be, but were able to negotiate a good discount (sweetened by paying cash).