Buying your first home is an exciting step. Many first-time home buyers also enjoy making their homes their own by remodeling and tackling DIY home improvement projects. The key to updating your home is knowing which projects you can handle and which to leave to the professionals.
1. A Fresh Look - As a first-time homeowner, you’ll want to make your new home reflect your style. One home improvement project that will give your home’s interior a fresh look is painting your walls. If your walls are covered with wallpaper or a wallpaper border, you can remove it yourself without damaging the wall. With patience and time, you can remove wallpaper with a steamer, plain water, or a remover solution. Begin in an inconspicuous area and see what works best. You’ll also need a couple of broad knives, a ladder, a scoring tool, a spray bottle, and a plastic tarp or drop cloth.
Once you’ve removed the wallpaper, or if the walls were painted when you moved in, prepare them for painting. First, inspect walls for dings or holes, use spackle to fill imperfections, and lightly sand the dried patches. Scrape peeling or cracked paint and sand these areas. Clean the walls and dust wooden trim. Fill gaps between walls and trim with paintable caulk. Use painter’s tape to protect wood trim. Then, use a high-quality primer or paint with primer in it to cover stains, old paint, or imperfections.
2. Flooring Upgrades - If you cannot stand to look at your floors anymore, consider DIY flooring upgrades. Several brands make flooring that is quick and easy for just about anyone to install. For example, many first-time homeowners opt for floating floors that glue or snap together and cover nearly any existing floor type, from plywood to ceramic tile. Engineered flooring is more durable today than ever before, and you can install it in a day or two because it does not require any nailing or demolition.
3. Lighting Fixtures - Another way to update your home is installing new lighting fixtures. Perhaps you want a ceiling fan to keep your bedroom cool or to replace the old brass fixtures that were in your home when you purchased it. If you are replacing lighting fixtures, you can handle these updates on your own. Be sure to turn off the power to the fixture at your circuit breaker rather than using the wall switch.
On the other hand, installing brand new electrical switches, outlets, or fixtures would be better left to a professional. Licensed electricians will safely update your home’s switches and outlets or to run wires to a new spot. The last thing you want to do is get shocked or put yourself or your home in danger by attempting a DIY electrical upgrade. HomeAdvisor reports the average price to hire an electrician is $317, and the timeline is dependent on the job. These costs are minimal compared to what you could lose attempting to do electrical work yourself.
4. Plumbing Work - Plumbing is another home improvement project that could be done by you or a professional. You likely can handle replacing a faucet, toilet, or showerhead on your own. These upgrades will save water and make your bathrooms or kitchen fit your style. Be sure to turn off the water supply and assess your comfort with tackling these easier plumbing jobs on your own.
However, if you want to remodel your bathroom, add a sink, or convert your bathtub to a shower, call a professional plumber. These complex jobs require expertise, and you’ll save money by hiring a professional from the get-go. Other plumbing jobs that are best left to the professionals include replacing old pipes, replacing or rerouting sewer pipes, and installing or repairing a septic tank. Any plumbing jobs that are tied to a gas line also should be left to the professionals.
5. Outdoor Living Space - If you love the outdoors and want an area for entertaining or relaxing, add an outdoor living space to your new home. If you have an existing patio or porch, you can update it yourself. But, adding a new porch, outdoor kitchen, or other outdoor design, requires hiring a contractor or landscaper specializing in hardscapes. These professionals understand the permit process and can design and build your outdoor space correctly the first time.
You can make your first home your own with some DIY home improvements and some home remodeling projects done by the professionals. Consider giving your home a fresh look with new paint, updating flooring, replacing or installing lighting fixtures, completing plumbing work, and creating an outdoor living space.
Thanks to Gene Williams for this article. Gene has decades of DIY experience and loves sharing his knowledge with others. Please visit his website for more information or to contact him with your DIY questions.