5 Household Fixes You Should Stop Paying Others For

By Chris Birk on 18 February 2011 (Updated 20 August 2013) 11 comments
Photo: Alassea

Spring is right around the corner, and with it comes the season for cleaning, fixing, and repairing things around the house. The problem is that many people simply open their wallets and pay for work that they could probably handle themselves, from leaky faucets and downed tree branches to pest control.

You don't have to be a professional handyman to take care of common hiccups. In fact, a little bit of patience and diligence can eliminate repair and maintenance costs and help heal your bottom line. (See also: DIY Home Improvement: 10 Free Options for Training and Advice)

Given that, here’s a look at five household fixes and chores you can probably handle solo:

Landscaping

Hiring somebody to rake your leaves, mow your lawn, fertilize, and mulch your shrubbery isn't always worth the cost. Instead of getting an itemized list of tasks done by a lawn service, you’ll get physical activity and money to put in your savings. Plus landscaping your yard gives you the freedom to do whatever you want creatively with the peace of mind that it’ll be done to your specifications. (See also: The 6 Best Lawn Mowers)

Vehicle Maintenance

Minor car maintenance and repairs don’t require a new skill set. Changing your oil, replacing a dead battery, and installing new headlight bulbs all take a few minutes to learn but can save hundreds of dollars in the long run. Beyond repairs, clean your cars at home. Washing your cars inside and out lets you scrub every nook and cranny. Now there won’t be anybody to blame if crumbs litter your passenger seat, except your messy passengers.

Plumbing Repairs

Leaks and clogged drains happen. They’re inevitable. But don’t call a plumber who solves the problem in 10 minutes and charges you for an hour. O-rings, plumbing tape, and clog-removing chemicals easily save you a bundle of money. If trying to fix simple plumbing problems sounds intimidating, at least give it a try before diving for the phone. Worst case scenario, you have to call a professional. At the same time, avoid exacerbating problems by taking on projects beyond your means. There's no shame in knowing your limitations.

Pest Control

Pesticide sells for less than $15 at hardware stores and comes with spraying mechanisms. Pay close attention to the directions and clear areas you plan to spray beforehand. Be sure to mind the pets, too. Killing the insects yourself keeps the pesky ones away, but you still need a hired hand to take out termites. Don’t let a termite bond lapse, and keep a pest-control company under contract for termite extermination if termites are prevalent in your area.

Mending Walls

It’s common for drywall nails to pop out, be an eyesore, and ensnare clothes. Use a nail set to hammer obtrusive nails back into the stud. Then, about two inches above or below the loose nail, tap in another nail flush with the wall. Spackle the dents, let dry, and sand smooth. Paint as necessary.

These are just a handful of do-it-yourself fixes. Please feel free to share your tips below.

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Guest's picture
Leah

I generally agree. However, I do have someone mow my lawn, although I do all the rest of the landscaping (sometimes extensive stuff). I mowed enough when I was a kid and I hate, hate, hate it.

I also have my dealer do oil and other fluid changes on my car. They're competitively priced, give my car a complete wash/vac, and aren't pushy. Also I don't have to dispose (properly) of the old fluids.

Everything else, though, it's 1000% cheaper and faster even to DIY

Guest's picture
Abe

On vehicle mechanical, plumbing, and pest control: Do them right and you'll save a few pennies. Do them wrong, and you can be in a heap of trouble many times worse than if you didn't use a pro in the beginning.

Guest's picture

Okay, I'm gonna be a complete girl with this one, but I am not doing the whole bug thing. I happily pay someone to do the whole pest control thing and I don't regret it. Everything else is game though.

Guest's picture

Great article. I agree completely, especially with pest control. DEFINITELY make sure to shop around. I recently had quotes vary $100. All I had to do was call 5 and pick the best deal. Keep up the good posts!

Guest's picture

The other advantage of DIY is that often its great exercise- you can drop your gym membership! I'm not kidding! I was out move cinder block bricks the other day (I feel like we move them from one spot to the next....and the next) and skipped my workout with my girlfriend. She gave me such crap for it until I informed her I was doing my weight bearing exercise in my own front yard!

Guest's picture

What about painting as well? Especially if the walls and ceilings are the same colour, so don't involve cutting in.

Guest's picture

As far as car maintenance goes, it pays to invest in a workshop manual. Sometimes they're only a few pounds (or dollars) on ebay. When something needs attention, you can have a look at the workshop manual and decide if it's something you can handle yourself or whether you need a mechanic with special tools.

Guest's picture
Guest

That is a GREAT idea!

Guest's picture
Sonya

When I saw this post i smiled, because i've the excat same thing. I've done a few repairs myself as a girl i'm very proud of that fact.

Guest's picture
Sean H

I have recently bought a new car and had a friend to teach me to change the oil, transmission stuff, battery replacements, etc. and it has saved me a lot already. I did not realize changing oil was so easy and much cheaper.

Guest's picture
CharlesGuest

You still have to be careful with Jacks..You are underneath a lot of weight..Make sure nothing is going to slip on you.