The recessionista’s guide to: Do-it-yourself
10 simple do-it-yourself projects that are sure ways to save in style.
As any recessionista can tell you, when times get tough, smart cookies save money by tackling basic repairs, home maintenance and improvements themselves. Remember though: the flipside of this is knowing your limitations and acknowledging that sometimes (when plumbing repairs or electric issues come up, for instance) it’s better to have a pro do the job right the first time ’round.
Here are 10 recession-busting DIYs that even the most basic to intermediate DIYers can put on their to-do lists. Save money now and improve your home’s property value for the future!
1 Install a closet organizer. First de-clutter and purge; go through your closet and categorize what can be donated, what can be kept, and finally, stained or irrevocably torn items that need to be junked. (Eco tip: tear unwanted cotton garments into cleaning rags.) Next, install a closet organization system that will allow you to see your entire wardrobe at a glance with rods, drawers, hooks and cubbies. Try Lowe’s Closetmaid Closet Designer tool, or if a freestanding wardrobe is your plan, IKEA’s Pax closet planner.
2 Attend a free Home Depot Do-It-Herself clinic. The big-box home improvement retailer offers special in-store workshops geared specifically at women, including topics like installing locks and deadbolts, yard improvement and bathroom projects, among others. Visit diy.homedepot.ca for upcoming workshops.
3 Wash your own windows. Cleaning your living room, dining room and kitchen windows inside and out (including the screens) will give the social areas of your house a cleaner, brighter look. But you don’t have to hire a pro. Learn how to remove the screens and panes and you can get them spic and span with sudsy water, sponges and a squeegee. If your second floor windows need cleaning, hire a pro (carrying window panes down a ladder can be very dangerous) but you’ll have saved yourself a bundle by taking care of the main floor yourself.
4 Swap out your air filters. Furnace and air conditioning filters often suffer neglect because homeowners forget to replace them. That’s a mistake because clean filters help a furnace or air conditioner function more efficiently, saving you money on your energy bill. Clean regular filters and replace disposable filters seasonally, and then monthly during their busy season -- winter for furnaces, summer for air conditioning. That’s especially important if anyone in your home suffers from allergies or asthma, and/or you have furry pets.
5 Patch holes in your walls. If you switched up the artwork on your walls, or inherited a room with lots of old nail holes, patching them up is an easy move, if you’ve got leftover matching wall paint or are planning to repaint the room. Just use a spatula and cover the holes with Poly-Fil. When dry, gently sand, dust off, and either roll over the white spot with leftover wall paint, or start painting if a fresh coat is on the agenda.
6 Install a click-in laminate floor. Professional installation is a smart idea if you’re investing in high-end hardwood floors, wall-to-wall broadloom or quarried stone. But today’s glue-less floating flooring, whether laminate or engineered hardwood, is literally a snap to install. Best part? Install it once and you know what to do next time. After all, if you move house you can pack it up and reinstall it later in your new home.
7 Lay down a stair runner. A basic straight runner on your stairs can be installed by a novice (with a buddy). Check out the step-by-step instructions here.
8 Nurture and repair your lawn. Warm-season curb appeal includes having a lush lawn. If yours is looking lackluster, give it some TLC. This article from Canadian Gardening provides the lowdown on eco-friendly natural lawn care.
9 Tackle a porch makeover. If selling your house is on your to-do list, a makeover’s essential. You want to distinguish your home right from the get-go and curb appeal is one sure way to do it. Even if you aren’t selling, it’s a great home improvement to do now rather than later. Repaint your door or, for an old-fashioned natural wood door, apply a new coat of protective paste wax. Install a new mailbox or slot, door hardware (knocker, kick plate, doorbell, etc) house numbers and porch light. Wash down or repaint the porch, et voilà: facelift!
10 Pressure wash your home’s exterior. Who says guys get to have all the fun? Rent a power washer and watch a winter’s worth of dirt and grime disappear from your front walk, driveway, porch and deck. (A pressure washer can damage wood, so read the operating instructions carefully and take extra care on wood decking, porches or steps.)
Once you’ve decided on a solution and put it into place, you’ll find you’re better able to “shop your own wardrobe,” making your DIY efforts pay off with fashion savings too. No more going to the mall in search of a white blouse you already have!